The Future of Digital Payments

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The world is increasingly becoming a cashless one. Global cashless payment volumes are forecasted to grow more than 80% by 2025, with over 80% of customers who primarily used cash or checks pre-pandemic, are now planning to use more digital payment tools going forward. As research by PwC and Strategy& points out, the rush to cashless is underpinned by a colossal shift in how consumers both buy goods and services and pay their bills. This is substantiated by the $7.36 trillion worth of transaction value that passed through global digital payments in 2021—the market is projected to be worth $15.27 trillion by 2027.

To keep up with this digital payments evolution, companies in the financial, utilities and real estate sectors will need to differentiate their products and services in two ways, according to Deloitte. First, they will need to offer personalization, which is defined by customers having easy access to different payment options, such as mobile or text, and terms, such as early pay or autopay. Second, they’ll need to generate insights that help them optimize their products and services, such as which payment methods individuals most use. With the right technology, data and partnerships, companies will be well-primed for the future of digital payments.

The rise of super wallets and real-time payments

Digital wallets are one of the biggest contributors to the digital payments market. The digital wallet sector alone is worth around $1 trillion and anticipated to grow to an estimated $7 trillion by 2027. Among digital wallet providers, Apple Pay hovers around 50% of market share depending on the source.

What is it exactly that makes a digital wallet “super?” According to CB Insights, super wallets replace single-function digital banking and payment solutions and encompass almost every financial thing we do in our lives, from paying bills, to investing, to managing insurance. Other digital wallets like PayPal have made inroads here, adding a bill management tool, early paycheck access and even cryptocurrency to its suite of products. But the true super wallets can be found in China—WeChat, which began as a messaging app and then added gaming, shopping and payments to its capabilities, and AliPay.

Another digital payments technology on the horizon is real-time payments (RTP). For many industries, RTPs offer a great way to get paid faster as payments can be initiated and settled almost immediately, streamlining communication from start to finish. Ninety percent of business leaders would consider incorporating real-time digital payments into their business, according to Citizens Bank’s Real-Time Payments Outlook.

Digital payments aren’t the only game in town

It’s important to remember that the rise of digital payments hasn’t completely erased traditional ways in which consumers pay bills, such as credit card, check or bank account. Remember, some 15 percent of consumers still prefer to pay bills by mail. What’s important is offering a choice in how consumers can pay, both in payment and billing method. Partnering with a vendor that can help you easily integrate and implement these various billing options will ensure you offer the personalized experience we mentioned earlier. As a byproduct, you will get paid faster while driving customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.

Harnessing the power of data

Companies need a continuous stream of data about their customers’ bill pay habits to both tailor their experience and offer relevant digital payment and billing methods. They also need this data to educate their customer base about these very options and increase upsell/cross-sell opportunities. 

Given that younger consumers tend to be the ones most likely to try out new digital payment options, it could be helpful to use data to understand the pain points or fears older customers have about trying these tools. A utility company could launch an educational campaign in which they describe each payment type, terms and the pros and cons to assuage the concerns of digital newbies. Financial institutions could use  data to understand the impact of changing customer preferences on their product roadmap. 

If you’re struggling with a lack of data in your own organization, certain vendors let you supplement with their own or third-party billing and payment data to learn more about your customers and their habits.

It pays to partner

As the digital payments revolution continues to unfold, companies will increasingly be evaluated on the choice they offer consumers. For many, integrating digital payment options will fall outside of their core competencies. To get it right, consider partnering with providers who can not only help you set up these new digital payments offerings, but also assist in crafting a personalized communications approach for each customer and extracting meaningful insights from these engagements.