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Payment Methods: Giving Customers a Choice

It doesn’t matter how much money your customers have if they can’t spend it on your website or in your new store. With that in mind, here are three different payment options you should consider offering your audience in 2017:

Debit Cards – for Offline Customers

In some countries around the world, such as the UK, debit cards are forecast to overtake cash as the go-to payment option for customers by 2021. It might not sound surprising from an online perspective but the development of technology like mobile wallets (Android and Apple Pay) and contactless payments is driving growth in physical real-life stores as well. The overall share of cash in the competitive payments arena could fall to as low as 27% by 2025 according to the Telegraph.

While they do require an investment in card terminals and similar point-of-sale technology, it’s hard to argue against debit cards as an essential requirement for any business dealing with customers, online or offline. There’s the added concern of per-transaction fees and merchant charges but these are quite small – and better than the alternative, which is letting their customers keep their money in the bank.

PayPal – for Online Customers

PayPal holds a monopoly on so-called “digital wallet” payments, with 79% of respondents to a 2014 survey by Statista having used the service in the fourth quarter of the year. The company’s credit option was in second place with 18%. Google and Apple didn’t fare well in the study (Dunkin Donuts’ digital wallet was more popular than Apple Pay). However, Apple Pay has enjoyed significant growth in 2016 and recently added 26 banks to its list of advocates.

PayPal exceeded profit and sales margins in the first quarter of this year, transaction volume climbed 26% and overall payment volume exceeded $81bn. However, Apple Pay beats PayPal on security, using hardware encryption on a mobile phone. On the flip side, Apple Pay has no browser option like PayPal does. The two are almost complementary services rather than rivals at present but an Apple shift towards browser use could take a chunk out of PayPal’s market share, given the number of consumers who own iPhones.

Bitcoin is a “cryptocurrency” that was born on the internet. It began life (in 2008) in something of a rebellion against bank control and now operates away from inflation, regulation, and similar financial concerns. The benefits for consumers include enhanced security, instant payments, privacy, and immunity to the “loan shark” interest rates that blight card payments in developing economies like China, India, and Brazil.

A number of profitable industries have embraced Bitcoin. For example, mobile casino companies like Vegas Casino don’t accept fiat currencies on their website, preferring to use Bitcoin for all transactions. The site offers bitcoin black jack, video slots, roulette, and several other games, as well as a Bitcoin “faucet” that rewards small amounts of Bitcoin for the completion of Captcha tasks. Accepting Bitcoin is simultaneously a vote of confidence in an emerging currency and a positive customer service angle.

There’s no question that the line between online and offline payments is beginning to blur – you can now use PayPal in face-to-face transactions, for example – so, while e-commerce is getting easier for consumers, there are nevertheless several additional considerations for new businesses. Find out which options work for your customers; after all, there’s no point in supporting PayPal if your audience isn’t tech-savvy. Do your research, and your (existing and new) customers will thank you for it.

 



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