Businesses of all sizes have noticed that customer expectations have rapidly evolved with increased demand for low touch experiences and no cash payments
The COVID-19 outbreak has overwhelmed livelihoods across the globe. The normal routine of life has ceased and demand patterns have changed swiftly. In payments too, there has been considerable change in consumer behavior concerning preferences. Contactless payments or zero-contact payment modes including QR codes, UPI and SMS pay enable transaction completion without getting in close proximity to any person or surface, which is much-needed in current time. Businesses of all sizes have noticed that customer expectations have rapidly evolved with increased demand for low touch experiences and no cash payments, whether in-store or during home delivery.
For anyone lacking digital know-how or access to good Internet, cash is still the king. However, people—both consumers and merchants—have become hesitant in accepting cash payments or coins as personal hygiene is of paramount importance. In fact, some of the top banks in India revealed that cash is prone to carry infections and spread the virus. The National Payments Corporation of India and WHO recommended contactless payments to avoid the COVID-19 spread. Around 25 per cent cards are contactless and about 15 per cent of the transaction volume is currently coming from contactless cards.
It has also come to light that the most preferred payment option amongst citizens in this new social distancing era is UPI. Besides the UPI payment trend, QR codes are slowly gaining popularity in India due to its user-friendly process and security features. Setting up a process which supports QR code payments at the billing counter allows consumer-facing businesses for smooth transition to digitization of payments, thus ensuring the convenience and safety of both its employees and customers. This would not only facilitate faster checkouts but also keep merchants, their customers and the nation safe from COVID-19.
The Impact is Profound
Businesses across different sectors are coping with their urgent needs and looking ahead to the times by adapting quick fixes and workarounds. The global crisis has made leaders across industries rethink, innovate and introduce contactless delivery via zero contact payments modes such as QR code and VPA-based payment modes like UPI and Bharat QT; SMS pay link-based payment modes and other low touch payment modes such as mobile wallets and payment gateways.
In fact, ‘contactless’ has been one of the novel techniques to ensure thousands of lives are saved through zero-touch transactions, world-wide.
The Future is here
India is moving fast to become a cashless economy ever since the government launched the Digital India campaign. There has been a significant change in the mode of payments preferred by individuals and businesses. To ensure the digitization of payments, businesses currently have both, innovations as well as upgrades. To cope with the current scenario NFC card payments, dynamic/static QR codes, SMS pay links, Bulk SMS are being preferred for the transactions, especially with businesses concentrated in the delivery segment.
The government also made the merchant discount rate (MDR) on UPI nil. Therefore a merchant saves money on UPI payments made by its customers.
During this COVID-19 era, digital payments have not only ensured smooth transactions but also reduced the spread of the pandemic. A cashless economy is all set to grow in tandem with the demand for the new digital infrastructure.
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