By Simon Fairbairn
Ingenico Group EMEA
In his 1789 letter to French physicist Jean Baptiste Leroy, Benjamin Franklin, a founding father of the Unites States, declared that in this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes. Well, he was close but, sadly, no cigar for this one anymore. The one he missed, which to be fair was clearly around in his time, is payments.
No matter where you turn or what you try to do in this world, regardless of time zone, continent, culture or creed, payments make the world go round. It might have been conch shells, two goats and a chicken, or a fistful of dollars, but payments and payment processing were, and continue to be, on the go pretty much everywhere. So, add payments to the shortlist of death and taxes.
So why make the point now? Well, in a world where every new day brings a new normal, it is easy to feel a little queasy with what our new world will look like. The doomsayers will have you believe that the world will go to hell in a handcart; the revolutionists declare that everything will change, and that things as we know them will not persist.
In reality, the truth is always somewhere in between. What we do know is that payments will ride the ebb and flow of the situation, dropping in scale as the markets move into lockdown and growing back out as the situation relaxes. This is important, as in a world in flux, it's difficult to know where to place your bets. Right now, payments are an economic necessity and, as such, are probably one of the safest bets. Along with death and taxes, of course.
So how do payments retain their relevance? Quite simple really, by adjusting to what the market needs. So long as people need stuff and are willing to trade to get it, they need a safe, trustworthy mechanism to facilitate the process. The clever bit is the manner in which the evolution takes place to meet the need of the moment.
In a world where infection control has become the new battleground, customers want touch-free experiences at the checkout, coupled with online or mobile shopping options that offer curbside collection or delivery. To facilitate this, providers have responded to the need of merchants and end customers and have been working to support them on four fronts:
So, whatever the ills of the world, the payments industry is here to stay for some time yet. What it looks like or how it operates will undoubtedly change, but I think this will be for the better, adjusting, as always, to the needs of the day.
Simon Fairbairn is head of professional services / Ingenico Group EMEA. Take a look around the new Payments Landscape in this Ingenico white paper with a special focus on the impacts to consumer behaviour: www.ingenico.com/payment-landscape-new-normal. To reach Simon, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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