From gold coins to cryptocurrency, it’s safe to say that the payment landscape has evolved drastically over the years. Now, new developments in online technology are pushing the current payment landscape further in the digital direction. Just years ago, cash and checks were the leaders in forms of payment. However, global electronic transactions totaled 41.8 billion dollars in 2016 according to the World Payments Report.
Started by the leaders of the technology industry, large corporations and local businesses alike are now relying more on new technologies to accept payments from customers and pay their employees. Even many consumers now utilize money transfer apps to split the bill with friends. Though traditional payment methods like credit cards remain popular, electronic payment methods are seen as the future of the payments landscape. As technology continues to progress, corporations look to capitalize on these growing financial trends to maximize convenience and profits.
Defining the Payments Landscape
Though it often goes unnoticed, the payments landscape plays an important part in everyday life. It is made up of the many different ways you exchange currency with businesses, employers, friends and family. Whether you’re receiving a paycheck, transferring bank funds or even splitting a dinner check with a friend, you likely interact with the payments landscape on a daily basis.
For many years, physical cash, checks and credit cards played the largest roles in the payments landscape. Then as payment and security technology evolved, payment methods became increasingly more digital. When you insert your credit card chip or electronically send money to a friend, you are using some of the payment landscape’s latest advancements.
Now, consumers can harness the internet to transfer funds between other consumers, as well as businesses. This includes purchases from both physical and online stores, and even paychecks. Payment service providers work tirelessly to provide new technology in order to satisfy increasing consumer demands. As a result, the current payment landscape aims to make the transference of money both faster and more convenient through advances in the following areas:
- Peer-to-peer payments.
- Income and payroll.
At its core, a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment is a transaction made from one person to another. However, today the term P2P payment is often used more specifically to describe electronic transfers between two people. By inputting their bank account or credit card information into a P2P payment application, users can now pay each other or split a check without a need for cash. Due to this convenience, many different P2P payment applications are quickly becoming a part of the payments landscape, run by both third parties and big banks.
For example, Apple released Apple Pay, an application that gives users the ability to send and receive funds through iMessage and other IOS apps. With more options becoming available, P2P payments are quickly growing in public use. Some apps are partnered with banks, like Chase QuickPay with Zelle, while others are their own entity, like CashApp.
Coded with secure networks and firewalls, P2P payment applications offer a safe way to instantly transfer funds from anywhere with an internet connection. However, P2P payments come in two forms: open-loop and closed-loop payments. Open-loop payment methods use card networks and bank functions to transfer funds, and often charge a fee. Meanwhile, closed-loop payments are entirely enclosed with the app or service provider, providing faster speeds for users at no extra cost.
Income and Payroll
According to CB Insights, more than 82 percent of U.S. workers now receive their paychecks through direct deposit, which means their earnings are electronically delivered to their bank accounts on payday. With increased speed and consistency, advancements in payroll delivery offers workers more stability and freedom with their finances.
This also has benefits for employers as well, who can save money by eliminating the costs of paper checks. Creating paper checks also takes more time, resulting in more cost per hour as payroll involves more employees. Though these costs may appear small, for hundreds of employees over a period of months, expenses can quickly add up. Therefore, direct deposit provides a fast, cost-effective solution for companies looking to cut down on unnecessary expenses.
New online services even allow some users to get paid before payday. With this option, employees can “cash out” after each workday to receive their daily pay, which is deducted from their next pay period. These funds go directly into the employee’s bank account, which can then be used immediately.
For example, Uber has partnered with GoBank to give its drivers instant access to their earnings. Meanwhile, Gusto, a payroll and human resources benefits provider, lets companies pay their employees after work is complete. Employers simply switch on the free tool called Flexible Pay to offer this option to their workers.
Technology is constantly adapting to make processes faster and more efficient, and point-of-sale (POS) is no different. The term point-of-sale describes the place and time that a consumer connects with a business to make a purchase, whether it is in-person, online or a mixture of those two.
Companies must work to keep up with the needs of consumers, who demand the fastest, simplest payment methods possible. This means that for many companies, choosing the right POS system can help increase sales and drive business. Knowing the available technology enables companies to select the best POS system for them. Some examples of the types of this technology include:
- Mobile wallets. Mobile wallets combine the user’s personal finances with an easy-to-use phone application. This integrated system allows consumers to carry fewer cards, make payments faster and reduce paper receipts. Rather than swiping a credit card, businesses allow customers to scan their phones in order to complete a transaction.
- Card POS mobile systems, such as Square and Stripe, give merchants the ability to accept card payments while outside of brick-and-mortar stores. The card swiper tool plugs into the merchant’s phone and connects to a software in order to process card payments.
- Cloud-based storage. This technology allows users to access their payment information at anytime and anywhere with an internet connection. These systems store their user’s expenses and track their connections and sales. Commonly used for business-to-business transactions, cloud-based storage functions as both a wallet and checkbook by tracking and accepting payments.
Advancements in the payments landscape are constantly working to create a global payment system that is fluid and flexible. Mobile apps and technology are quickly adjusting to the needs of consumers in order to provide faster, more consistent and user-friendly services. In using mobile applications and computer systems, the payment landscape reaches every worker in the world.