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Cash, Credit or Crypto? Small Businesses and the Evolving Payments Landscape

Brace yourself, business owners: A transformation is happening to the way customers expect to order and pay.

The convenience of the smartphone has created a new lifestyle for consumers and changed the game for businesses. Those that have embraced the shift are capitalizing by getting ahead of trends.

As a small business, you not only want to ensure that your business is evolving with the times, you also want to eliminate as many hurdles as possible for the customer. That means ensuring your staff is equipped to sell everywhere to anyone by offering a flexible, simple and modern checkout experience across sites – whether consumers are paying with a chip card or shopping online.

So how do you remove the most friction in ordering from your store? Aim to make purchasing absurdly simple with these three trends in mind:

Customers are ordering in-app

Opening your business to new sales channels is vital for survival, and social apps are a global phenomenon encompassing some 9.7 Billion active accounts across the globe. That’s right, there are more social active accounts in the world than the entire population of the globe combined.

With consumers spending more than two hours per day every day perusing apps, they have come to expect the ease of direct ordering on social media and custom-branded apps without breaking a sweat. Consumers are empowered to place food, retail or service orders with one click in some cases.

This is great news for small businesses because social selling is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to reach new customers. The advanced targeting options available on social networks, particularly to Facebook’s 1.9 billion accounts, provide a way for business owners to get their products in front of very specific target markets.

This lifestyle use of social apps combined with the ease of purchasing, referencing, liking, voting and reviewing items in the same platform places a premium on frictionless ordering.

Everyone wants to pay their way

These days, consumers are spoiled for choice. No matter what you buy, there’s almost always an alternative option available – and money is no different.

Customers who walk into your store expect the ability to choose their method of payment with the least friction. That means your store must have the ability to accept multiple forms of payment with ease.

Chances are, your employees are being asked if they accept in-app, tap-n go (NFC and eWallet) and stored value (preloaded QR codes) payments in store. If you’re selling online or elsewhere out of store, you may already take digital money in the form of card on file, pre-authorized credit, debit, stored value (QR codes), pre-purchased or money transfers.

To future proof your business, you need to take all of the above, remove outdated options and continue to stay on top of new forms of payment. Customers want to know you process fast, secure payments, and keeping your operations up to date will give them that security.

In the end, removing cumbersome-and slow payments means you’ll move more customers through your store while retaining and growing your consumer base.

Society is going cardless and cashless

With financial institutions, federal regulators and foreign exchanges now supporting, overseeing and fostering digital money flow within and across geo-political borders, the world is experiencing a dramatic rise in financial transactions being conducted completely virtual – without credit cards, cash or even eWallets.

From person-to person (PTP) payments, like m-Pesa, SafariCom and VodaCom in Africa, to Venmo, Zelle, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Facebook iMessage in the United States, digital money transactions are rising globally.

Viral cryptocurrencies based on Block Chain technology, like Bitcoin and Livemint, are also globally accessible and therefore seeing an increase in demand and use for common goods. The current value of Bitcoin, the most common and most widely POS-compatible cryptocurrency by far, is estimated at more than $25 billion – indicating many, many consumers want to use it.

Now that you have the keys, it’s time to act. Do your homework on the best methods to enable frictionless digital ordering, determine which social applications, eWallet’s, and digital payment methods are best for your customers, and enable this capability with one of the many in-industry technology partners.

Don’t forget to monitor your success to continue to improve. The digital shopping scene is always evolving and you will benefit from staying on the cutting edge.

Chris Poelma is President and General Manager of NCR Small Business.  An accomplished innovator and Corporate Executive, he’s created new mobile global-SaaS solutions used by hundreds-of-millions of consumers in the Financial Services industry.