The key factors driving a new era of alternative payment methods

Thanks to evolving consumer shopping behaviour, the rate of alternative payment adoption is continuing to move at lightspeed. Following the nation-wide lockdown earlier this year, the shift to online shopping continues to accelerate, and with it, the use of alternative payment methods (APMs), such as mobile payments, bank transfers, pay later schemes and e-wallets.

UK consumers are more inclined than ever to try a range of different payment methods to provide a more convenient payment experience. In the UK, any payment method other than cash and credit or debit cards is viewed as an alternative payment method (AMP). However, across the globe, these forms of payment are considered “local” payment methods due to their broad adoption.

With over 450 significant local payment methods in use across the globe, merchants who sell cross-border are learning it is no longer adequate to simply offer only credit or debit card payments to consumers.

From an increasing use of PayPal to bank transfers and mobile wallets (Apple and Google Pay), consumers now have more choice of payment methods than ever before. 

So, what is influencing the adoption of alternative payment methods amongst UK consumers? Who is leading the charge? And what does the future hold as we enter a new era of APMs? 

Younger generations are driving adoption

With Generation Z growing up with social media and smartphones, it’s no surprise that there’s a buzz about new payment methods in the news and on social media, which is a critical driving force for APM adoption. 31% of Generation Z consider this the biggest motivation to try new payment methods, whilst for Millennials, 37% said that merchant acceptance is their main driver. 

It seems confidence in these methods is being predominantly led by younger generations in the UK. 42% of millennials (born between 1980-1993) and 35% of Generation Z (born between 1994-2001) feel confident using, or have used, either a bank transfer or e-wallets as methods of payment. And, with 33% of Generation Z increasing online spending since the beginning of the pandemic, they are a force not to be underestimated.

Reaching new levels of convenience 

Whilst younger generations have been early APM adopters in the UK – increased convenience and security remain a key driver across all age groups. In fact, when choosing to use a payment method, security was favoured over reputable brand image, with over half (59%) of UK consumers believing it to be the most important factor when choosing a payment method.

More consumers shopping online has encouraged a rise in fraud – and as a result, consumers are growing increasingly concerned for the safety of their transactions. Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) – as required by the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) – is just one regulation coming into force to combat fraud. Ensuring compliance with multi-factor authentication will be vital to reassure customers as they continue to shop online, and support future confidence in APMs.

But merchants should be warned; demonstrating security and providing a simple, easy checkout is a delicate balance. A major element of frictionless payment experience is making sure the checkout page has the right payment mix for the region and target age group. With more than one in two (50%) global online shoppers making purchases on foreign websites, and the fact that 54% of European cross-border e-shoppers are millennials, payment preferences will only continue to become more pivotal to attract shoppers from across the globe.

The future of APMs and e-commerce growth 

It is safe to say the explosive growth in e-commerce and cross-border payments across the globe has really set the stage for the expansion of APMs this year. And, with further growth ahead, APMs are quickly becoming not-so-alternative.

We are moving away from traditional shopping practices and today, buyers no longer want to be restricted by traditional payment methods, such as cards and cash. Retailers who choose to ignore the payment preferences risk losing 44% of UK customers. Merchants who offer a variety of payment methods that appeal to all ages, cultures, and regions will be able to widen their offering to a more extensive customer base.

The opportunity for merchants offering APMs is huge and is a necessity for every merchant seeking to grow their business – certainly domestically and especially across borders.

James Booth, VP Head of Partnerships, EMEA, at PPRO.

The views and opinions expressed in this Viewpoint article are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views and opinions of Fintech Bulletin.