Why improving your payment systems is the key to recovery

How new approaches to payments can help you meet the needs of a changing consumer

To gain a better understanding of the pandemic's impact on businesses around the world, we conducted a series of interviews with Google's Global Business Solutions payments partners. In this article, we've summarized some of these insights and details to help your business respond, rebuild and start reimagining in the months ahead.

Let's begin by looking at some of the key trends and shifts in payment-related consumer behaviours as a result of the pandemic—and how businesses are responding.

  • Growth in app payments—In the first two weeks of March, the share of global orders coming from mobile apps grew by almost 30%—representing 4 in every 5 online purchases.1

  • Subscriptions are more popular—20% of brands offering subscriptions are seeing subscription growth rates accelerate beyond pre-COVID-19 predictions. Why is this? Convenience may be a key factor, as consumers are prompted to sign up for recipe boxes, pet food boxes, video streaming subscriptions, etc.

  • Rise in card payments in cash-preference markets—Visa reported that over 13 million Latin American Visa cardholders shopped online for the first time in March.2 Before the pandemic, a large number of Latin American consumers used bar-coded paper vouchers to purchase online.

How did businesses respond?

  • Contactless and online payments—Many traditionally store-focused industries such as bakeries and restaurants evolved to serve online audiences by offering contactless takeout, home delivery or click-and-collect.3 In parts of Africa, some merchants who created online stores managed to increase revenue by 200%.4 And stores opening now are prioritizing contactless payments to reduce the physical handling of cash.5

  • Offering new (and local) payment methods—In Chile, many online retailers have changed the order of their payment options at checkout—to prioritize card payments or bank transfers in place of cash.6

  • Offering more digital payment channels—Apps are winning when it comes to convenience payments7 and several platforms now offer businesses the capability to allow shoppers to pay within the social media platform, rather than through a separate website—a highly convenient service for many consumers.8

How can you rebuild your payment processes?

Invest in payment methods to serve all markets

With many businesses no longer taking cash payments, consumers who were once averse to online shopping have had to change their behaviour. As this trend continues, e-commerce is likely to grow across all verticals.9 However, shifting your business to online and increasing your ability to deal with online transactions is a complex process. You'll need to not only implement a system that can handle large volumes of payments, but also ensure you're offering the payment methods your consumers prefer—all while upholding strict security standards.

It's also important your new payment system encourages loyalty by providing a seamless transaction, alternative payment methods and security assurances. However, achieving all these things while responding to increased transaction demands could take vital resources away from other parts of the business. Therefore, consider having a payments partner that can scale with your business in the coming months and years.10 You can find a payment partner for your business on the Market Finder site.

Explore subscription models

Subscription models are a good way for businesses of all sizes to grow their customer user base;11 they facilitate high engagement with consumers and create more of an emotional relationship with audiences.12 Depending on the product or service you offer, consider ways to move customers to a monthly payment model using a direct debit or stored card payment. This can increase the lifetime value of customers and generate valuable cross-sell opportunities.13

Monitor fraud and chargebacks

Online fraud increased throughout March, April and into May. This could be due to more people setting up home offices—and the subsequent rise in demand for laptops, printers and other equipment—becoming a prime target for fraudsters. Looking ahead, one way to tackle this is to build solid and scalable systems that detect fraud and protect your business in the long term. Future-proofing your chargeback process requires accurate data collection and maintenance, including communication, purchase history and more.14

Steps you can take to help your business reimagine

Use automated payment processes to make your business scalable long term

Automated processes can help your payment operations scale up to manage surges and spikes in volume. They'll also ensure your business remains flexible to changes in consumers' preferred shopping channels, payment and delivery methods.15

Explore integrated payment devices

Another option is to replace your dedicated payments terminal with a next-generation touchscreen device that integrates payments with a range of front and back-office software applications. These integrated applications can be tailored to your specific sector. They're also designed to help you in a number of other ways, including contacting your customers, managing stocks and replenishment, and even enabling face-to-face and online payments.16

Optimize your payment systems to ensure the best user experience

Out of all payment cards held on file, 30% are obsolete within the first 12 months, and 15% of card authorization attempts fail for reasons that could be easily avoided. Implementing a "payment retry strategy" for declined payments—and using products like Account Updater to ensure payment details are current when attempting renewal payments—can dramatically improve the subscriber's user experience. Looking ahead to when the pandemic eases, brands will need to consider how to maintain a high rate of customer retention as people's lives begin returning to normal.17

For more support and guidance for businesses, take a look at our operations best practices guide plus other useful resources in the Market Finder Global Payments section.


  1. Riskified 

  2. dLocal 

  3. PSE 

  4. Flutterwave 

  5. Forbes 

  6. dLocal 

  7. Riskified 

  8. PSE 

  9. dLocal 

  10. Ingenico 

  11. Forbes 

  12. Worldpay 

  13. PSE 

  14. Riskified 

  15. Riskified 

  16. PSE 

  17. Worldpay