By Brian Goudie
The holidays are almost here. For most business owners and operators, efforts to prepare are in full swing. While strategies around staffing, merchandise or advertising are typically top-of-mind, many may overlook the importance of payments. Simply put, a business can’t make money if it can’t accept money. Throughout the year, and especially during the rapidly-approaching holiday season, it’s important that the payment experience be efficient, secure, relevant and reliable.
However, driven by consumers’ expectation for personalized access to information and products anytime, using any device—the lines between in-store commerce, e-Commerce and mobile commerce are blurring. Consumers want the best deal in the most convenient and personalized way. They expect a shopping experience that seamlessly crosses online and offline channels. They expect universal commerce. For example, they want be able to make purchases by simply waving their smart phones at the point-of-sale, or order a pizza with the touch of a button on their iPad or smart device. Consumers want to interact, review, compare, manage, transact and buy—whether in a store, at home or on the go.
In this emerging environment, the altered payments ecosystem clearly presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses—and therefore, it’s absolutely crucial to prepare now for the increased store traffic and sales opportunities when the holiday rush hits. Savvy business owners and operators should explore and implement the best approaches to maximize cross-channel sales success, including the following strategies to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.
As a speaker to various merchant PS, I talk about the state of payment systems today and what the future may hold. In the question and answer portion of my talk I often encounter a wide range of opinions from merchants that fall outside what most payment professionals wou1d take into consideration.
At a recent meeting I heard several skeptical comments from merchants about cards with near field communications (NFC) capability. First, they didn’t really understand why NFC was a requirement for credit and debit cards. They didn’t have a problem with EMV and inserting cards into a reader because they grasped that a chip connection would be more secure than the easily readable mag stripe. But their major objection was not as merchants but as cardholders of NFC-enabled cards. Their worry was that the cards could be read from devices held by passersby. They didn’t like the idea very much because they
felt it put their own account data at risk. They didn’t put much stock in the NFC card barriers of encryption, tokenization and other security measures.
That meeting alerted me to what may be a mistake some of us are making in our expectations about public support of new payment methods. We may be putting too much emphasis on the how and what, not enough on the why.
Why should cardholders change what they’re doing? Why should they trust that their account information is not going to get scanned by a passing device? Why should they waive a wallet, when they’re used to taking out a card? So the card is NFC-enabled - so what? Why should they trust that their bank information is secure in a smart phone that can be stolen (and in some neighborhoods, is snatched out of owners’ hands with alarming frequency.) Why change? Does the cardholder or the merchant have any sense of why these things are happening? Are they on board?
I believe an essential missing element in the predicted juggernaut of new mobile payments is trust. Let’s talk about what this means.
Trust is built up slowly over a long period of time. Marry trust with habit and you have a formidable barrier to getting people to change their behavior.