The post-pandemic payments world – or how the industry adapted to change

Friday 2 July 2021 08:44 CET | Editor: Raluca Constantinescu | Interview

Christophe Bourbier, CEO of Limonetik: 'Even if people return to making in-store purchases, the fact that they started to understand the convenience factor behind paying with a fingerprint or a QR code means that, most likely, they will not go back to using traditional payment methods.'

As the world adapted to the pandemic, we have seen a dramatic shift in consumer behaviour and an increased interest in alternative and local payment methods. What does the payments landscape look like now, when the crisis is starting to subside? 

The post-pandemic world continues to be digital. The decrease in global retail spending means that purchases have been made through a digital channel, and consequently we saw an amazing shift from in-store to online payments. Solutions such as ‘click and collect’, which we have been hearing about for decades, have become a reality in the last few months. 

In a way, the pandemic has fast-tracked the evolution towards a cross-channel world. Although we have heard this term before, the world was not really cross-channel before the pandemic. Even though consumers could buy in-store or online, solutions such as ‘click and collect’ were not yet a reality. However, due to the pandemic, these solutions gained prominence as consumers practiced social distancing. So, to reiterate, the pandemic has brought about a digital, cross-channel world. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also seen the rise of local marketplaces, as many shops started selling online on these platforms. Local players wanted to leverage the situation and create platforms such as those provided by large retailers – but on a local scale. 

Another trend observed during the pandemic is the rise of B2B payments. Because people could no longer meet to sign contracts, there was a significant increase in digitalisation in this space as well. In addition, we have also seen a shift in the payment methods used for B2B transactions. Since SWIFT and SEPA transactions can take days to be completed, businesses adopted instant payment methods, such as bank transfers. 

How do you think the more traditional payment methods will stack up against the newer ones in the near future, considering their constant rise? 

The fact that consumers avoided making purchases that required physical contact gave rise to payment methods such as e-wallets. So, the usage rate of the payment methods that offer an alternative to cash has increased dramatically. Although payment methods such as Apple Pay or Amazon Pay were being used before COVID-19, we saw a great increase in their adoption during the pandemic. The same can be said about other forms of contactless payments, such as QR code payments. Even though these payment methods help with avoiding contact when making purchases, they are part of the digital world that has emerged – and will not disappear after the pandemic is over.

For me, there is no doubt that consumers will keep on using these alternative payment methods instead of reverting to the usage of the more traditional ones. Even if people return to making in-store purchases, the fact that they started to understand the convenience factor behind paying with a fingerprint or a QR code means that, most likely, they will not go back to using traditional payment methods. 

We also have to keep in mind that these payment methods have not been developed only in reaction to the pandemic. They address certain consumer needs besides just the avoidance of contact. These methods are easier to use as they only require your fingerprint or an email address. Other solutions, such as BNPL, e-wallets for the youth, and alternative payment methods for the unbanked, are also addressing the various needs of the consumers. 

In your opinion, what will be the long-term impact of the shifts in consumer perspective and behaviour when it comes to payment method preferences? 

From the statistics, we can see that regardless of region the rate of digital payments has increased. For example, credit card usage has risen from 54% before the pandemic to 65% now, and for e-wallets the usage increased from around 39% to 52%. The usage rate of BNPL used to be 27% and it has now grown to 30%. 

In terms of regions, France, for instance, just like the US and the UK, shows a significant credit card usage. In this case, credit card transactions remain dominant even for online and mobile payments. In contrast to this situation, in China the usage rate of payment methods such as Alipay was high even before the pandemic. Every country has its specificities in terms of payment methods, and all the countries where alternative payment methods are popular will continue to witness a high usage of those methods. 

What are the key challenges faced by merchants in a post-COVID-19 world? 

We shifted from a brick-and-mortar situation to a cross-channel one. The pandemic has brought about the rise of alternatives such as ‘click and collect’. Even though some supermarkets were delivering groceries and companies such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats were already in business before the pandemic, all merchants, even the small ones, are now offering ‘click and collect’. And this trend has also extended to big chains, franchises, and retailers too. Despite the fact that there’s been a lot of talk about cross-channel before, this only became reality during the pandemic. 

The challenge for merchants in implementing solutions like ‘click and collect’ is the fact that the consumers expect their orders to be ready for pick-up within an hour. This is convenient for the consumer, but on the merchant’s side, it is a big technical, organisational, and procedural challenge. 

How does Limonetik support its customers and add extra value in this competitive post-pandemic landscape? 

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of various payment methods, and Limonetik has been focused on assisting merchants with managing that difficult situation. It was a great challenge to offer ‘click and collect’, as well as the payment methods that consumers wanted to use in the new digital world. But today we offer 285 alternative payment methods, and we cover 70 countries. Moreover, merchants and PSP can integrate them via one API. During the pandemic, we also designed a QR code-based, in-store solution that enables merchants to accept payments via a mobile phone app. 

At Limonetik, we are a payments platform, and we are dedicated to alternative, international, or local payment methods. We support both major and alternative payment methods, so we can also support BNPL, QR code, e-wallet, prepaid card, and instant payments, among others. 

Recently, we have also onboarded some new clients, such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats, and Takeaway. These delivery platforms became Limonetik customers because they required access to certain location- and demographic-specific payment methods. 

About Christophe Bourbier 

Christophe Bourbier is a born entrepreneur and an executive with over 15 years of experience in competitive and disruptive strategy. Competitor at heart, captivated by international affairs, Christophe, before he founded Limonetik in 2007, had created different companies in High Tech and Communications. 

About Limonetik 

Limonetik is a full-service payment aggregator that offers, via a unique API connection, acceptance of more than 285 international payment methods and advanced services – from collection and settlement management to reconciliation and account management – to enable new payment experiences (marketplaces, omnichannel model).

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Keywords: Limonetik, online payments, QR code, payment methods, local payment method, retail, marketplace, BNPL, merchants, COVID-19
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce