EXCLUSIVE: “Checkout choices” – Harshna Cayley, Barclaycard Payments in ‘The Paytech Magazine’
With consumers demanding fewer barriers between the physical and digital worlds, Barclaycard Payments is using technology and data to better connect them with businesses and improve the transaction experience for both, says Harshna Cayley
Consumer behaviour is changing and the lines between digital and physical are becoming increasingly blurred as more and more people see shopping as one experience – be it online, in-store or conducted over a mobile device. And this is fuelling the need for an increasing array of payment methods, enabled by the rise of open banking. In addition, services such as buy now, pay later (BNPL) give users even more choice and flexibility when it comes to how they finance their purchases, whatever method they opt for. And therein lies the conundrum for businesses – how to simultaneously provide the seamless, flexible and consistent commerce experience customers desire, from their choice of initial shopping method to returning items they don’t want, while also responding to rising demand for a wider variety of payment options. This is particularly relevant in retail. Consumers want friction-free, integrated, connected experiences within every single channel they interact through.
Harshna Cayley, head of online payments at Barclaycard Payments, says: “Customers want a seamless shopping experience. What that means for retailers or other businesses is that they need to continually work to create that single customer view, through every single touchpoint the consumer is in. And that means they do need to embrace and be resourceful with the technologies they’re using and the payment providers they’re working with.”
Cayley is in a particularly strong position to comment, as Barclaycard Payments is the number one payments processor in the UK, as well as the number one commercial card provider and number two merchant acquirer in Europe.
“The scale that we have around our expertise, data and insights, and the solutions we put in the hands of our customers, is pretty incredible, particularly around helping those businesses grow and particularly with the backdrop of the rising cost of living, economic uncertainties, and so on,” she adds. Barclaycard Payments has long been a major player in the point-of-sale (POS) market, which has become an increasingly competitive area of payments with a plethora of new entrants stepping in and offering a range of flexible options.
Most recently, the company launched Smartpay Touch into that market – an all-in-one POS solution that enables ‘businesses to run their businesses’ by simplifying users’ admin and thereby enabling them to maximise profit. Presented as a modern-day take on the traditional bank manager, this nifty little terminal takes all payment types and offers its users services including real-time insights, inventory control and supplier management to boot. Smartpay Touch is not just about taking payments.
“It’s got the software layer, it’s on a nice white device, and it enables businesses to run their operations. It helps them with inventory management, CRM and appointment booking, as well as taking card payments,” says Cayley.
Such devices are becoming increasingly vital for businesses as consumers continue to shun physical bank cards in favour of digital alternatives, wallets and other payment types. Indeed, Cayley says digital wallets now represent the highest single transaction method, at 30 per cent of sales, outstripping contactless payments in store (24 per cent) and conventional card payments (21 per cent).
“So, we know that consumers are embracing digital wallets and we’re going to see it going in one direction; it will hike up even more,” she adds. Cayley reasons that if consumers nowadays expect digitisation to be there, without friction, and are increasingly intolerant of manual, time-consuming processes, then businesses must embrace the changes to thrive. Omnichannel, or unified commerce as she calls it, is here to stay. “It’s not just about taking payments anymore, or the checkout interaction, it’s the whole experience that can be powered by software loaded onto the POS devices that consumers are familiar with,” she says.
“It’s not just about taking payments any more, or the checkout interaction; it’s the whole experience that can be powered by software loaded onto the POS devices that consumers are familiar with, or even loaded onto a phone”
“The same software could even be loaded onto a phone, to enable tap-on-phone type propositions – and that will really help with a number of needs, particularly for small businesses – or that software layer can be added into a bigger till solution.
“Omnichannel or unified commerce is becoming much more of a reality, and there are real technologies out there that enable that friction-free experience across a number of channels.”
Barclaycard Payments is far from the only player in this field. Many consumers are already familiar with the small, white POS terminals of Square, which offers a suite of bespoke smart and integrated finance tools for retailers, restaurants and others. Shopify POS is another, widely hailed as a solution for retailers, as it enables payments from their bricks-and-mortar store to be tied in with online sales, while Lightspeed is praised for helping hospitality companies run their businesses more smoothly.
Meanwhile, Amsterdam-based global payments company Adyen recently launched two POS terminals, in its first foray into hardware design. The brief was to design ‘terminals that support mobile customer journeys, at an affordable cost, with a powerful battery’.Small businesses are often described as the lifeblood of the UK economy, with the country’s 5.5 million SMEs accounting for 99.9 per cent of the business population. Working with a payments provider such as Barclaycard Payments gives them the ability to access payment technologies that offer those friction-free experiences, as well as access to their regulatory expertise and insights.
The latter is particularly important since the introduction of mandatory strong customer authentication (SCA) rules, which require all online transactions over £25 to have an additional identity check – which inevitably adds complexity to the payments process and friction to the customer experience. At the centre of the e-commerce and omnichannel space are payment gateways, including Barclaycard Payments´ gateway, which not only enables online payment experiences but also connects to other services such as e-commerce platform BigCommerce, accounting software FreshBooks and business management tool WellnessLiving.
“It’s not just about taking payments in an online, e-commerce environment; there are comancillary capabilities available through that gateway, or through other partners or platforms,” says Cayley. Another industry hot topic, when it comes to creating an all-in-one experience, is payment orchestration. A payment orchestrator acts as a ‘piece in the middle’ of the process and enables retailers to consolidate and aggregate their payment services in one place so that they can route their payment flow to different service providers – a bit like price comparison sites in sectors like insurance.
“It provides that middle simplification layer and smart routing, to be able to leverage capabilities a company might not have within its own environment,” explains Cayley. This can benefit companies of all sizes. After all, consumer demand for multiple payment types means that retailers and other businesses will have to find a way of making them available to customers to retain their business. “There will be more innovation in this space, with more access to data, and we’ll potentially see new payment types emerge as a result,” Cayley predicts.Virtual cards, for example, are already becoming the norm in the corporate world. “As businesses are looking to streamline their expense processes – and leveraging virtual corporate cards for ad hoc expenses and so on – we’re seeing more demand for that particular proposition,” Cayley points out.Overall, she thinks the role of hardware will reduce over time, as payments are increasingly powered through mobile devices – iOS or Android – and more data becomes available from both a merchant and customer angle.
“The lines are blurring between the in-store and e-commerce environments,” she concludes. “Omnichannel will just be there – always on, friction-free, any channel, any interaction, any touchpoint, making e-commerce and physical payments feeling like one. POS and in-store innovations are helping to bring it all together.”
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