How are Retailers Building Connected Experiences Through Omnichannel?Nov 07,2022
As convenience and personalized shopping experiences continuously shape consumer behavior, retailers gravitate towards solidifying omnichannel strategies.
The Covid-19 pandemic has engineered a shift in the way business is carried out. In a drive to maintain the safety and hygiene of both employees and customers, businesses have taken to a contactless mode of operation as far as possible. Perhaps, one of the most important measures that companies have taken in this regard is to adopt contactless payments. Contactless payments not only allow a business to keep functioning but also provides a safe and convenient way for customers to complete their transactions. The online panel discussion, Contactless Payments – The New Normal for Indian Businesses aims to take a closer look at the journey to contactless over the past few months in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
The discussion was moderated by Rahul Sethi, Head of Marketing, Ingenico Payments India.
The emergence of Contactless Payment pre and during Covid-19
Mr Rajesh Ghanshani: In adversity there is opportunity. While the hospitality industry was already transitioning into going almost completely digital, the pandemic has sped up the process. With the sector finally opening after the lockdown there is an undeniable need for safety and hygiene in which contactless technology is playing and will play an important role.
Mr Manish Mohta: The pandemic has seen a drastic shift to moving education online. Despite the pre-Covid-19 trend to show a preference for in-person classes and fee payment, the industry quickly adapted to going online in both these areas.
Before the pandemic students in Bihar who didn’t have their own internet and credit card facilities to pay fees had to make use of a very interesting setup. Outside the competitive examination board rickshaw drivers would turn their vehicles into makeshift payment kiosks where they would have a laptop powered by an Exide battery and a credit card. Students would line up at the rickshaws to use these facilities and pay their fees and fill in their online application forms. The pandemic has put a stop to this system and students have had to look for other alternatives like friends or relatives to complete their application process. Hopefully this is safer than trusting a complete stranger with their entire biodata.
Mr Srivaths Varadharajan: BFSI has had to turn to go contactless in order for businesses to survive. Insurance companies had to find new ways to receive premium payments while the whole industry had to adapt to innovative new solutions like Contactless Payments collections for customers in keeping with the times.
Mr Ramesh Narasimhan: Companies in the e-payment/e-commerce industry have certainly witnessed considerable growth during the pandemic. The world has witnessed a flight to online from which there is no turning back. Even grocery stores and medical stores that previously only accepted cash started switching over to contactless payment modes. During the pandemic, it has been companies like Ingenico that have kept the wheels of ecommerce turning. However, this industry too has had to develop new solutions for their customers as well as effective marketing campaigns for their existing e-payment solutions.
Mr Srivaths Varadharajan: It is brick and mortar companies that have been around for over 20 years that are facing the biggest challenge in the Fintech and BFSI sector. These companies were well established as physical businesses and it is going to take some time for them to move operations online. However, the government and regulators have taken initiatives to help the process along. Companies in this sector not only need to digitise their own presence but that of their entire value chain so as to function as an ecosystem.
Mr Manish Mohta: The main challenge here is a lack of awareness about the security issues with using online modes of payment. This is especially true for tier 3 and tier 4 cities where not everyone has access to the internet. The security paradigm requires a major review in this changed scenario. The success rate of online payments is still relatively low. At times where during a transaction the money gets debited from an account but the payment fails, it could be very unnerving for the person who made the transaction. Especially for larger amounts. A more efficient system and assurance of 100% success is required. This is a gap that needs to be filled from a technological perspective.
Mr Rajesh Ghanshani: Covid has forced people to accept digitalisation. However, the main challenge faced by the hospitality industry is adapting to new technologies, hardware, and good internet connectivity. The industry was already on its way to going contactless even in areas of registration and check-ins, which is why things only promise to move forward.
Mr Ramesh Narasimhan: There is no going back to the way things were before the pandemic because companies have experienced the cost-saving and security benefits of contactless payments. The challenge is to actually get brick and mortar companies to also adopt digital payments. The move towards digitisation involves digitising supply chains and customer channels and adopting newer technologies. They can use software tools that are available on the web to achieve this. The onus of security falls on companies like us or companies that make the software tools.
It was unanimously agreed between the panellists that the Covid-19 crisis had sped up the process of many industrial sectors adopting contactless payments. The main issues highlighted were a lack of awareness and education, underdeveloped infrastructure in some parts of the country, and possible security risks of online payments. These are areas that will take time to resolve. As for the future of contactless payments, there is no turning back as more and more businesses are looking to adopt payment solutions that protect the safety and health of both employees and customers.