One of the biggest changes to affect the banking industry in recent years has been the growth of the alternative payments market. Entire countries such as Kenya have developed a hugely successful economy based on their digital payment options, while the UK and USA are finding that increasingly more people are opting for digital payments in addition to their traditional banking. But are the benefits of this growing payments market more clearly seen online? Have they grown in tandem with online shopping and online banking as well as other activities and aspects of our lives that have migrated to a digital space?
E-Retail Vs Land-Based Retail
There is no denying the impact that shopping online has. By 2021, there will be $4.5 trillion revenue from e-retail, compared with the $1.3 trillion that 2014 brought in. Compare this to the figures of closures of physical retailers and the two sets of statistics are inversely proportional. As e-retail has grown in popularity, so have other aspects of our online experience such as cryptocurrency, e-wallets and online-only banking. As our digital options have grown, it seems that our physical ones are being squeezed. Indeed, online-only retailers have a lot of advantages over land-based ones. They don’t have overheads, are easier to navigate and visit (a click away compared to a trip out) and can help busy consumers make their minds up more easily. Indeed, many physical retailers have been dragged online by the need to remain relevant. Plus, online savings options, such as incentives not to abandon a basket, are only available online. So, it makes sense that as e-retail attracts more customers, it also benefits from other digital-forward options.
Digital Payment Options to Thrive Online
The digital world has an advantage over the land-based one as it tends to offer more options for us to engage with new methods in digital payments, cryptocurrency, and to recoup the benefits of online banking. For example, Overstock.com accepts Bitcoin as a payment option for their products and has done so since 2014, expanding their options to include Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, Monero, and Bitcoin Cash. Meanwhile, the Betway Casino accepts a series of digital payment options for their site, including the standard PayPal and Mastercard, as well as Neteller, Skrill, Paysafecard, and ecoPayz. These options are often regarded as more secure, improving the safety of those using the site. Online-only bank Monzo offers some benefits that other traditional land-based banks don’t – such as the ability to save in a more conducive way and currency intros and no-fees on the card being used overseas. Plus, there are dozens of cashback sites that reward you for shopping online. Topcashback and Quidco offer cashback for making online purchases through them, so it literally pays to choose an e-retailer over their land-based equivalent.
Could Land-Based Retailers Catch Up?
That isn’t to say that land-based retailers aren’t catching up. Indeed, many offer contactless payments and Apple Pay, while others earn cashback through schemes with banks that give cashback when the card is used. Shopmium and other food cashback sites are exclusively for physical shopping as a physical receipt is needed. Perhaps the e-retail industry cottoned on to the use of digital payments faster, but the land-based retail market isn’t far behind. The first major signifier in the battle between the two will be the widespread option to pay with cryptocurrency. Should a physical store begin this, they may edge out the e-retail market amongst some consumers. Especially so since Facebook launched Libra coin, which is set to explain the uses of cryptocurrency to the Facebook crowd who may not understand the technicalities of cryptocurrency. Land-based retailers are fighting back against the customers lost to the internet. Some are benefitting from the sizing issues some online retailers have, as well as the changing returns policies of some online clothes providers. The act of shopping in person is also been highlighted as an experience compared to online. But, the real war will be won based on the technology that can be offered by both online and land-based retailers.
The growing payments market is definitely benefitting online retailers more. The lack of overheads and flexibility with their businesses means they can experiment with different digital payment options. Indeed, some options even try to appeal specifically to online retailers in order to have them adopt the method. While we can see some of the digital advances in banking and finance in land-based retailers, the vast majority are benefitting online.