Procurement · 5 October 2016

Wave of new payment technology sees small firms lag behind customer expectations

contactless
Small firms risk getting left behind without payment technology like NFC card readers

Small businesses are rapidly losing sales by limiting the methods by which customers are able to pay for their goods and services, a new PayPal survey has found.

Unveiling the experiences of 2,000 small British companies, the study revealed a disparity between what consumers want and what small firms can offer in terms of payment.

Traditional forms of payment such as cash, bank transfers and cheques were all found to be popular among smaller businesses dealing primarily in face-to-face transactions with clients.

Despite the growing popularity of contactless card payments, cash is still king for the owners of smaller firms, with 70 per cent admitting it was the best way to receive payments. Bank transfers and cheques were also favoured by 62 per cent and 56 per cent of respondent business owners respectively.

However, the extent of contactless card popularity among shoppers was emphasised last month by the UK Card Association, which found that contactless sales accounted for 18 per cent of total sales in the UK in the six months to July – an 11 per cent jump on the figure for 2015.

Small business director at PayPal UK, Nicola Longfield, said that company owners needed to embrace new and exciting payment technologies. “Businesses that don’t join the twenty-first century stand to lose out,” she added.

“At times it can feel like a new ‘pay’ launches almost every week. However, consumers are embracing these changes and opting to use digital wallets, contactless cards and their smartphones when they go shopping.”

As many as 63 per cent of consumers surveyed admitted to abandoning an online purchase in the last three months because they couldn’t pay via their chosen method, whereas 56 per cent said they’d given up buying in a shop’s premises for the same reason.

Longfield went on to say that a new range of NFC-enabled card readers, such as PayPal Here, is making it increasingly easy for small and micro businesses and sole traders to accept contactless payments, chip & pin and Apple Pay transactions.

“No long-term contracts and low pay-as-you-go processing fees make card readers like PayPal Here suitable for a wide range of businesses previously solely reliant on cash, cheques and bank transfers, such as plumbers, taxis or market traders,” she said.

“The good news is that much of this technology is designed to make life easier for small businesses, as well as consumers.”

Continue reading for Business Advice’s in-depth interview with PayPal’s Nicola Longfield.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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