Voice of the Industry

A look into the future: How COVID-19 changed payments

Thursday 28 May 2020 08:38 CET | Editor: Andra Constantinovici | Voice of the industry

James Booth, VP, Head of Partnerships EMEA at PPRO gives an overview of payment trends amid the COVID-19 pandemic and envisions what the future holds for the industry.

COVID-19 has shaken the global economy. Social distancing has drastically shifted consumer behaviour and introduced a new set of challenges to stores and shoppers alike. For merchants, it has been difficult to manage a dip in discretionary spending, a rapidly increasing number of online shoppers, and an explosion of competition in the market. 

In the following, we travel to a not-so-distant future and take a look back at 2020. What happened to payments and global commerce? What changes are here to stay?

Local payment methods continue to drive ‘Glocalization’ 

In 2020, COVID-19 drove consumers to look outside their immediate geography for goods and services. Major drivers of this included price point, quality of products, and availability due to global supply chain challenges. The opportunity for merchants to sell across their borders became even greater and acted as a solution to bridge revenue gaps and increase reach to an entirely new, global audience. Now, in 2022, most large and medium-sized retailers are selling across borders.

While it’s become easy to navigate logistics around the world, collecting funds in other markets is still an entirely different story. Like all aspects of culture, payment preferences vary from country to country. In fact, over 70% of global ecommerce is powered by over 450 local payment methods. Indeed, e-wallets like Alipay, WeChat Pay, and GrabPay dominate payments in Asia, now more than ever.

How Local Payments Changed During COVID-19

The payment needs and preferences of global consumers are more diverse than ever. Still, a global trend has been the accelerated shift from cash and card payments toward digital payment methods. Out of social distancing necessity, the pandemic led to increased use of contactless, digital payment methods like mobile e-wallets, bank transfers, and QR codes. 

When it comes to shopping online, instalment payment methods like Klarna and Afterpay have surged in use, as they enabled shoppers suffering from the economic impacts of COVID-19 to defer payments and still buy what they wanted. Before the pandemic, apps like these were primarily used by younger demographics to break up payments on big-ticket items, luxury goods, and travel. Many consumers now prefer a ‘buy now, pay later’ option.

In 2022, the markets that have remained predominantly digital are markets that had low cash use before the pandemic: the US, UK, Western Europe, and large parts of Asia. Cash-based payment methods remain popular for some economies around the world (especially places in Latin America, where there are high percentages of unbanked consumers). However, we are closer to a completely cashless society in 2022 than we have ever been.  

Setting up for Post-Pandemic Success

As more and more competition came online, consumers who were already insisting on intuitive user journeys pre-pandemic now have zero tolerance for friction. When it comes to that all-important payment experience – the make or break moment of conversion – it’s critical to have payment flows that feel invisible for digital natives, yet inspire trust for those late-adopters.

Offering the local customer’s preferred payment methods has always been a critical part of boosting conversion across borders. During the pandemic, as consumers clung more tightly to their money, the demand for payment methods that were familiar and trusted only increased. Offering local payment methods was mutually beneficial: Many consumers have new ways to shop, and retailers now have access to larger, global audiences. And despite the havoc wreaked on the global economy, it’s come out stronger than before. 

In 2022, ecommerce – powered across the globe by local payment methods – continues to be a powerful force for good, connecting people with products that improve their lives. 

Here’s an important element to realising a more stable 2022: merchants must offer customers a great experience now. The businesses that do will end the lockdown period with a larger and more loyal customer base than those who neglect the payment experience.

About James Booth

James Booth has over ten years of experience in the financial sector, eight of those in fintech. In his current role as VP, Head of Partnerships for EMEA, he leads the new business and partner development teams in managing PPRO’s new and existing strategic partnerships. In addition to helping PPRO partners grow their business, he acts as PPRO’s internal advocate for aligning the company’s product roadmap with the needs of its customers. James has been actively involved in various projects during his tenure at PPRO, including establishing PPRO’s presence in North America and managing the development of the PPRO Partner Portal. 

About PPRO

PPRO enables integrated electronic payment processing on a global scale spanning the entire payments value chain from acquiring through processing, collection, and settlement. PPRO acts as a B2B payments hub, connecting PSPs and other merchant aggregators, such as acquirers and processors, with local payment methods.


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Keywords: PPRO, James Booth, online payments, payments method, Europe, world, local payment method, card, retail, Klarna, Afterpay, digital payments, QR payments, cash payments, Asia, pandemic, COVID-19, coronavirus
Categories: Payments & Commerce | Online Payments
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce