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What You Need to Know about Accepting Payments During COVID-19

by: Nick Corrigan
Friday, April 17, 2020

Last month, my favorite local pub switched to offering only delivery of food and beer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through two world wars, Britain's pubs stayed open, but have now been forced to evaluate, and drastically change, their business models — a true indication of the unprecedented times we're living in.

Like the pubs in Britain, we understand you're facing similar difficulties, especially those of you who are primarily focused on face-to-face business. We want to reassure you that you are not alone, we're here to support you and share new ways to continue driving your business forward.

First, there's some payment terminology you should understand when navigating which payment types are the best way to connect with your customers during this challenging time:

  • Card present payments are those where the physical card — or device in the case of mobile wallet payments — is presented in person by inserting a card into a terminal or 'tapping' a card, watch or phone for contactless payments. Previously, in some cases, customers regularly signed a receipt or pin pad during checkout. Now, however, many customers and employees no longer want to touch a keypad, pen or stylus to provide those signatures.
  • Card not present payments are those where the physical card or device is not present in person, but instead, the card data is transmitted and processed digitally through other means, like when your customer enters a card number in a payment form online. In this social distancing landscape, many businesses realize that to keep their employees and consumers safe, they need to start, or increase the use of, card not present transactions.
  • Commerce channels are the mediums in which commerce can happen. For example: ecommerce (online and in app or browser via mobile phone), face-to-face, over the phone or social selling. With limits and restrictions on face-to-face channels, businesses are utilizing, or switching quickly, to these other commerce channels.

Explore these 5 ways to accept payments during COVID-19

Online payments

More and more people are confined to their homes because of shelter-in-place orders around the world. So if you're already accepting payments online, now is a great time to ramp up. If you aren't accepting online payments, this is the optimal time to start. Part of your online payments strategy can include reaching your customers, and delivering your product, through social networks.

To establish and set up an online presence, you'll typically need to do one of two things: build an ecommerce website from scratch, or utilize a 3rd-party software, commonly referred to as a shopping cart. Building an ecommerce site from the ground up is, of course, a much larger undertaking in terms of time, money and technical capability. Conversely, the use of a shopping cart lends itself to faster and easier implementation.

There are benefits to each option, which you can explore with your payments partner, but in either scenario, make sure that your online payments solution comes equipped with robust fraud prevention capabilities and strong data security features to lower your risk and better protect your business.

As your business continues to navigate today's uncharted waters, we're here to help connect you to your customers wherever they may be.

Telephone orders

There are a few different ways to take orders over the phone to reduce or eliminate physical interaction with your customers. The easiest and most cost-effective is with your existing point of sale. Many point of sale solutions that you have today can be utilized to process phone payments.

And although credit card payments over the phone are not a new concept, there is still some unease due to the risk that the person on the other end of the line is not the cardholder or an authorized user of the card. However, tools like Address Verification and CVV Codes can help minimize fraud when in-person payments are not possible.

If you're looking for a card not present payment type that offers the convenience of paying over the phone, but want another layer of security, a pay-by-link solution could be the option for you. Pay-by-link technology allows you to send a customer a secure payment link while on the phone to ultimately provide them with an ecommerce checkout experience. Last week, I paid a local market trader who had moved online via a WhatsApp message he sent to me. It directed me to an online payment, which was secure and quick.

Additionally, there are other payment solutions like virtual terminals that facilitate phone payments. With a virtual terminal, you can easily authorize, process and manage card payments in real time. Through this technology, you can retain payment details for one-off or regular future transactions and issue refunds from a secure, hosted payment page in your browser.

In-app and in-browser mobile wallet payments

If you're already accepting online payments, you can enhance your customers' experience with online mobile wallet payments. In fact, many of today's consumers are comfortable with – and even prefer – using mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

These types of payments offer a safe, secure and convenient way for your customers to pay online or via mobile technology. Through this payment type, you can increase conversion and eliminate abandoned shopping carts by allowing your customers to check out seamlessly without needing to enter payment, delivery or contact information after their first purchase.

Card-on-file payments

Have a need to offer recurring payments service to your customers? Card-on-file payments allow you to store customer credit card details on file for repeat online payments. This technology saves valid cardholder details in a secure vault and enables you to automatically schedule payments to reduce your manual workload and enhance your customers' payment experience.

When looking for a card-on-file payment solution, make sure it provides the security and flexibility you need to protect your business and improve your customer experience. For example, look for options that offer strong fraud prevention and card tokenization capabilities.

Digital invoicing

During this pandemic, people are looking for fast, easy and efficient ways to exchange funds in a business-to-business setting. If you use invoicing as a form of payment collection, digital accounts payable solutions are a viable option to streamline the payment process and eliminate the physical need for invoices and checks.

Through these “virtual cards," you can accept payments instantly and electronically, without dealing with the physical limitations of traditional invoicing. When evaluating an electronic invoicing solution, be on the lookout for ones with technology that truly automates the invoicing process to reap the full benefits of this payment type.

A Look Toward the Future

As your business continues to navigate today's uncharted waters, we're here to help connect you to your customers wherever they may be.