What has the payments industry learnt during COVID?

Many businesses across the UK have had no choice but to adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19.  We have observed that COVID has led to different outcomes across various sectors. Some businesses, particularly within the Sporting, Fitness, Leisure and Hospitality space, have seen a sizeable drop in customer transactions as most of these businesses require a physical space to operate. Other sectors such as Telecommunications and Technology have not seen the same reduction in customer transactions from Direct Debit and other types of payments. This could be because these sectors were better equipped for remote working before the pandemic emerged. 

In addition to this, we have seen an increase in enquiries from businesses looking for a more flexible card payment solution. Whilst staff are working remotely, having access to the traditional ‘chip and pin’ machine has been challenging, coupled with more end customers wanting to pay on credit cards. Online payment portals enable businesses to take payments via any web browser, whether that’s a one-off payment, pay-by-link or recurring card payments. The ‘pay-by-link’ feature is incredibly useful, as this enables Accountants to email their customers asking for payment with a ‘click here to pay’ button. 

One important observation that COVID has taught the world is that to help preserve cash reserves a broader payments approach can be helpful. Businesses can achieve this by adopting a digital or contactless based payment platform that allows them to continue collecting payments from their customers at any time. With many of the lockdown restrictions still in place and consumers opting for contact-free payment methods, payment providers like London & Zurich can offer payment security, functionality, and important reporting features. One of the challenges that businesses may face is how to encourage their clients into opting to pay via alternative methods. The important consideration here is to reassure customers about safety especially since businesses are discouraged to take payments face-to-face due to COVID. 

Even before the pandemic, it has always been important to have access to a support team that is accessible to clients when they need it. London & Zurich’s robust support service has been critical during this pandemic, especially to our client base. COVID has allowed some respite for businesses to settle and receive payments at a later stage if needed, however, if payments are not settled within the extended time frame this can affect internal cash-flow. Without reliable cash-flow, businesses can struggle to operate effectively which is why the need to have a variety of payment options is crucial to help prevent this. 

Direct debits can help improve cash-flow and businesses can expect to see a significant reduction in time and administrative costs that are normally associated with payments via cash and/or cheque. Late payments are detrimental to any business which is why it makes sense to invest in a payment platform that improves control and reliability of cash receipts. 

To conclude, it is clear that COVID has required businesses to re-think their strategies when it comes to payments in uncertain times. From our perspective, one of the fundamental ways businesses can help with this is to remain flexible when it comes to managing customer payments. To ensure business growth and better cash-flow management especially during this period, it makes absolute sense to start thinking about the best payment strategies. 

At London & Zurich, our bespoke, cost-effective services are designed to make your life easier, so if you’re in need of assistance, get in touch today. 

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