Posted October 30, 2020 by FreedomPay

Payments and the Pandemic: Enabling America’s Economic Recovery

On October 29th 2020, FreedomPay hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with some of the most innovative leaders in payments who are navigating and disrupting the world of commerce. Read some of the great insights provided by our partners at Delaware North, Forter, Grab, HMSHost, Mashgin, Mastercard and Ready.

Restoring consumer confidence

Courtney Kelly Peters, Director of Business Development at FreedomPay acknowledged that restoring consumer confidence has become the focus for both merchants and technology providers. “Whether you’re going to a restaurant, to the airport or to checkout some items, everywhere you turn there is a touchpoint and that touchpoint is commerce. Introducing a way to make it a touchless checkout amidst the pandemic has never been more important.” she said.

Giving consumers choices

For hospitality businesses such as F&B, innovation is more important than ever and merchants need to create a frictionless, safe and secure experience for both customers and employees in order to stay relevant in the emerging and rapidly evolving digital ecosystem.

“Restaurants and retailers that are succeeding are those offering a variety of choices and not forcing every consumer down a single path,” said Jeff Livney, Chief Experience Officer at Grab.

Virtual kiosk is one example of an innovative, next-generation e-commerce platform that provides a safer, easy-to-use and touchless alternative to the traditional hospitality order-and-pay solutions. “When Delaware North and Grab introduced virtual kiosks at Atlanta International Airport in July 2020, 40% of the overall transactions were coming through the virtual kiosk which is an adoption rate we didn’t expect. Also, 90% of the people using that technology were first-time users,” added James Clayton, Payment Solutions Product Owner at Delaware North.

Permanent changes in consumer behavior

Srini Raju, Senior Director of Application Development at HMSHost said: “The trend of customer expectation for clean, zero-contact safe travel and purchases is here to stay and permanent. When the pandemic happened, instead of being a push for technology, it became a pull from the customer side – they were eager to try, they want it, and they want it now.”

A partnership between HMSHost and Mashgin deploying self-checkout technology across airports in the US found that customers in the grab-and-go markets are comfortable with less interaction. QR-based ordering and state-of-the-art touchless self-checkout are available in the market and becoming part of daily life.

“In terms of adoption, we have already had at least 10,000 people go through the self-checkout machines in the Charlotte airport alone within the first few days after installation, so people are ready to adopt this new technology,” added Jack Hogan, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Mashgin.

Emerging threat of digital commerce

With online commerce and transaction volumes growing rapidly since the start of Covid-19, instances of attempted fraud have also grown in numbers. Angela Whiteford, Chief Marketing Officer at Forter said: “New channels are new opportunities for fraudsters and they realized that when such changes come up there is less security there. Buy online, Pick-Up in Store fraud alone has increased by 55%.”

Having strong fraud prevention systems and capabilities in place will protect merchants against fraudsters across the different touchpoints in a buyer’s journey and allow them to process legitimate transactions while providing optimal customer experience. The challenge for merchants is that the existing fraud prevention systems don’t have the data to accurately identify good users from fraudulent ones. This could result in customer drop-off, loss of transaction and loss of a lifetime value of that customer.

A new initiative from FreedomPay and Forter was created to address this very challenge for merchants. They have established the first joint network for online merchants and banks to instantly detect fraud and enable legitimate consumers to operate freely. With an automated fraud prevention system and coalition of merchants, payment providers and banks, FreedomPay and Forter will help merchants be more effective in combatting fraud and build brand loyalty through an optimal user experience.

User controlled experience

Contactless payment has inevitably reshaped the user experience and relationship between merchants and customers. With contactless order and payment, customers can see digital menus, make orders, review, and make payments without using in-store hardware or services. This is all done on a person’s own phone.

Laurent May, Chief Executive Officer at Ready said: “Based on our post-transaction surveys, the overall guest satisfaction increased by 50% because customers have control of their own experience at restaurants. Not only does this bring value and time saving, there are some really interesting opportunities to add value to customers and merchants by adding loyalty features and enabling feedback loops.”

The economic recovery from Covid-19 is going to be a long journey, but the new trend is clear. Customers will expect to be able to control their own experiences and interact with brands and companies the way they want to.  Companies who quickly adjust and open new channels such as enabling QR code and NFC payments are going to recover in the short term and be successful in the long run. 

Digital transformation

During the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a dramatic shift in the role of technology in people’s lives and spending behavior, presenting a substantial opportunity for companies to increase capabilities through digital transformation.

Stephane Wyper, Senior Vice President Retail Innovation at Mastercard outlined three key trends in digital transformation that have been happening and continue to accelerate as a result of Covid-19. These include the contextualization of retail experiences, unified customer experiences and frictionless commerce.

“Frictionless is not a new technology but we have seen a remarkable increase particularly  in the US in terms of contactless adoption and there is a continued drive as NFC-enabled payments continue to expand,” Wyper said.

Data privacy vs ease-of-use

Data  undoubtedly plays an essential part in driving personalization and contextualization of customer experiences. In terms of how merchants and technology providers can responsibly balance data collection with user privacy without sacrificing the user experience, FreedomPay highlighted the importance and value of working with a strategic partner who can centralize data collection and is able to anonymize customer data with tokenization.

Peters added: “Consumer data is extremely valuable for merchants and FreedomPay has the capability to transform that data into actionable insights to help merchants understand their customer trends and factors impacting their sales.”