As lockdowns were introduced around the world throughout 2020, the payments industry experienced a rapid increase in online transactions. Throughout the past year, we have seen the ecommerce industry grow at a very fast pace, in the process accelerating several significant payment trends that impact small businesses worldwide, including those in Malta.

Among those to profit from the growth in ecommerce are the card schemes (e.g. VISA and Mastercard), who have benefitted from many people switching from cash to contactless card payments. With that said, although the card schemes are going strong and will remain a key payment method for a long time, we are also seeing growth in alternative payment methods (APMs) in many different European countries. For example, in Germany, girocard (an online payment system based on online banking) reached 5.5 billion transactions in 2020 resulting in a 21.7 per cent growth rate.

Trends such as the growth in APMs show why it is important for businesses looking to acquire customers abroad to be informed of their customers’ preferred payment methods. According to a study by Fittkau & Maaß, 29 per cent of consumers online have at some point cancelled a purchase because their preferred payment method was not available. It is for such insights why working with an experienced payment provider can add so much value to an ecommerce company trading across borders.

Another trend we are seeing is the growth of buy now pay later payment methods such as Klarna. These payment methods allow shoppers to buy products instantly while paying in instalments without being charged interest. These innovative payment options are changing consumers’ behaviours and expectations, thus negatively impacting those businesses that only stick to traditional payment methods. As such options become more prevalent, it has become even more important for businesses to offer multiple payment methods at checkout.

Beyond ecommerce payment methods, there is also a shift happening in business banking as more companies are choosing to open IBAN payment accounts with electronic money institutions instead of with traditional banks. The former have a reputation of offering a superior customer experience, more competitive fees, and tend to be more technology-savvy than incumbent banks. This last point is particularly significant as payments and banking become increasingly and seamlessly embedded into our online experience as a result of PSD2 (this is a European directive that allows licensed third parties, not just banks, to access your bank account data with your consent)

With so much change happening so quickly, it has never been so beneficial for businesses to have an experienced payments partner to guide them on how to optimise payments for business growth.

Jens Podewski is CEO of FinXP Ltd., a licensed electronic money institution in Malta offering payment and banking solutions to businesses. For more information, visit https://finxp.com.

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