Why businesses must embrace card payments

By Nick Corrigan, President and Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Global Payments.

It may seem shocking, but around three million of Britain’s small businesses don’t accept card payments. This is despite the UK rapidly becoming a nation of card-only shoppers. An estimated 3.4 million people now hardly use cash at all, according to UK Finance. UK footfall in March fell by 6% compared to the same period in 2017, research by British Retail Consortium reveals. So, as physical stores feel the brunt due to the convenience of shopping on the sofa, businesses need to ensure they are providing shoppers with the best possible experience to keep them returning. This article looks at what the benefits and implications are for businesses that implement card and Contactless payments.

RFi Group* research revealed the reasons for accepting card and the benefits are clear: convenience, fear of losing customers if you don’t accept card and the increased security all came out on top for businesses.

Businesses who haven’t yet converted to card payments need to reconsider, to ensure consumers are catered for – and as a result – see their profits rise. In a competitive market, what could be more frustrating than having to turn a customer away as they only carry card and then see them visit a competitor? Equally, this is frustrating for the customer who has to go somewhere else just because they’re not carrying cash.

The convenience of card payments is the key reason why businesses accept cards, and this is felt by consumers too. Card payments make it easier for businesses to track payments, and analytics will give business owners a greater understanding of their business and what changes they may need to make. For instance, statistics on fluctuations in spending depending on the time of day and the weather may impact staffing decisions.

Contactless payments heighten this convenience. As Brits, we are known for our love for queuing, however Visa’s research found nearly nine in ten (89%) people have left a shop or business as a result of excessive queues. Contactless payments are much faster than traditional transactions; just by a simple touch of a card or waving your phone or watch over a terminal customers can pay cutting down queue times. Both small and large business owners need to look into all options that are available and understand which ones are most appropriate for their business.

A study conducted by Dun & Bradstreet found that people spend 12-18% more when using credit cards instead of cash. Cash inevitably puts a cap on how much a consumer can spend. Therefore, a consumer may be dissuaded to make bigger purchases if they do not have enough cash or may put items back – causing extra clean-up for staff too. Card payments allow consumers to make impulsive purchases, again increasing the bottom line for the business.

It’s clear now that card payments help improve turnover. However, as all businesses are aware, security is key. The use of card means businesses do not need to hold as much cash on their premises, as payments are made direct to the bank; therefore, there is less risk of physical theft. And for consumers, Contactless payments are good as they use encrypted data and the chip within a credit or debit card, which transmits a unique transaction number, makes it hard for thieves to access information. This is fundamental for smaller businesses, as it enables trust and loyalty to be built.

Ultimately, it’s in the business owner’s interest to adopt card payment over cash to ensure consumers are happy and continue coming to shop. If businesses don’t make the transition, they will lose out to competitors that do. The future is digital, so it’s essential that business owners get on board now to realise the benefits and future proof their businesses.

* Global strategic insights partner, RFi Group: 17H2 UK Merchant Acquiring Council survey, which was in field in October/November 2017. In total, 1,109 UK merchants with a minimum revenue of £100,000 were interviewed online. All merchants accept card payments via merchant facilities and services provided by a merchant acquirer.

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