Payments Blog • 4 MIN READ

How COVID-19 is changing payments in Europe

Isaac Sottin

Written by Isaac Sottin

The Coronavirus pandemic has signalled a turning point for the payments industry. In the face of economic disaster, it’s the companies who have invested heavily in digital and mobile technologies who are now forging ahead.

Cash is no longer king

With the mass switch to contactless payments, particularly throughout Europe, countries are being forced to reconsider the use of cash. Since the COVID-19 crisis, with the emphasis on contamination through handling cash, businesses who were previously reluctant to make the transition, are rushing to enable contactless and invisible payments (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Paypal etc.)

In fact, the pandemic has rapidly accelerated changes in consumer behaviour, driving industries to either fully adopt digitization – or be left with the loss of potential revenue. In April, 29 European countries increased their contactless limits, while in some countries, demand for mobile payment services has doubled.

With the invisible payments and payment convergence gaps in the market rapidly being filled, boundaries between previously disconnected industry sectors are disappearing.

These trends have allowed players from various industries, including banking, insurance, transportation, ticketing and commerce to collaborate, co-creating new value and growth opportunities.

How industry convergence is re-shaping payment services

Telecoms and banking: Using their extensive customer bases and mobile device market penetration, telecom businesses are providing mobile banking services for unbanked and underbanked customers.

Retail and social media: In a shift from advertising-based to commerce-based business models, social media platforms are using fully integrated payments functions and transaction data to create personalized offers.

E-commerce and consumer finance: During the online checkout process, buy-now-pay-later options offer the alternative to pay in instalments with just one click.

Transport and travel: A variety of new options are providing convenience and removing complexity - like single payment for multi-modal journeys, pay-as-you-go transport and electronic tolling.

Automotive and telematics: Car manufacturers are building in the ability to make in-car purchases.

Travel and insurance: Instant payment solutions are being offered for situation-based and location-based insurance on-demand.

Some payments companies have looked at innovative ways to maintain or even boost their marketing. For example, Nexi in Italy offered smaller merchants use of its pay-by-link service, where customers can pay for products via email, text or social networks for free. In the UK, Paymentsense launched a dedicated website for taverns and restaurants to take online orders.

Real-time transaction monitoring is vital in the new payments space

With the growth in eCommerce transactions, increasing payments methods, complex new technologies and the blinding speed with which they’re being implemented, there is a greater potential for things to go wrong. Payment analytics and real-time monitoring has never been more important.

Transaction monitoring in real-time will give you a clear, concise picture of what’s happening in your payments ecosystem. Transaction analytics can track anomalies and recognize trends, as well as detect fraud.

With real-time monitoring you can pinpoint changes in consumer behaviour and gain key business insights to identify patterns, maximise efficiencies and minimise disruptions.

How real-time monitoring can help with business planning

With job losses, there’s the expectation of consumer income dropping, resulting in a lower than average shopping basket. This means businesses may need to reforecast their potential earnings.

You need to know what’s working and what’s not, particularly in these uncertain times. A real-time view is critical for success. For example, through access to real-time data across your entire infrastructure you can see:

  • Which payments methods are most popular and perhaps optimize for those in the future.
  • Where spending is down, and address the reasons why.
  • Where there are spikes and increases in online orders, potentially prompting you to optimize your website and payments portals.
  • A clear view of your delivery logistics, and whether this needs optimizing.
  • Security breaches and fraudulent activity through irregular purchasing patterns.

IR’s solutions provides transaction monitoring with real-time visibility into your entire payments environment. This allows you to proactively improve customer experience, and gives you the ability to innovate, optimize, minimize risk – and increase profitability.

The payments space is changing and will remain altered forever. Data is the key to success in these uncertain times, helping to glean valuable, often game-changing insights from masses of complex information.

Topics: Payments Customer experience Performance management Payment processing Real-time monitoring

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