Fintech will be the silver bullet for growth in 2021

The fintech sector has facilitated business growth during the pandemic. What seemed like an option in 2019, has become an imperative.

There has been a clear shift of digital payments from a nice to have to an essential service. Consumers started using digital payments for groceries, utility payments etc and has now moved on to become a mode of transaction for all their transactions. This has been propelled by two factors- convinience and the fear of infection which comes with managing cash. Our conversations with consumers indicate that this trend will continue post the pandemic as well. Another interesting trend that we have seen is the use of digital payments by what we call the Silver Tech generation- people in the age group of 50-70 years.  

According to IBM’s U.S. Retail Index[1], the pandemic has accelerated the move from storefronts to ecommerce by five years. The ripple effect of ecommerce has fueled fintech adoption rates. The mobile payments in India are said to grow by ~ 60 percent by FY 2022.

As nations plan for the next normal, what should businesses be thinking about to succeed in 2021?

Although, consumption continues to be low across economies, consumer spending on ecommerce platforms tell a different story. In October, e-commerce sales in India jumped to USD 4.1 billion – across the sale and festive days announced by ecommerce majors – up by USD 2.7 bn a year ago. This indicates green shoots of recovery in consumption.

Livestream and modern technology to boost sales and offer personalized customer experiences

The new record set can be attributed to the convenience and safety of shopping from home.  Another driver could be that brands and retailers who livestream or use modern technologies such as augmented reality (AI), appear to have a competitive edge, resonating strongly with their customers.

Digital payments will become mainstream

The hesitancy to handle cash will force the adoption of contactless and digital payments as the preferred transaction method both offline and online. In Q3, we saw 15.2 million new active accounts – our second highest quarter in organic user growth, coupled with 1.5 million new merchants come onboard – twice our usual rate in a quarter.

Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer research report[2] also found that consumers now spend 60 per cent of their time interacting with companies online compared to 42 per cent before the pandemic. By incorporating the Online to Offline (O2O) model, which refers to services such as online information, discounts or services, member rebates, in-store pickup of items purchased online, or the allowing of online purchases to be returned to physical stores, to their business strategies, companies can improve customer experience, service and loyalty. On the O2O model, we also expect consumers to opt for payment methods that act as a bridge between online and offline, such as digital wallets offering QR codes.

On an average, 88 per cent of shopping carts globally are abandoned[3], with one of the most common reasons attributed to complex checkout processes.

For businesses looking to keep and grow their customer base in this competitive environment, a simpler, faster, more intuitive checkout process with seamless and safe payment options is critical.

Building trust will be key to sustainable adoption of digital

This accelerated digital and ecommerce growth, unfortunately, has drawn unwanted attention from bad actors exploiting vulnerabilities for nefarious purposes. Email scams related to COVID-19 have surged in recent times. They will probably continue as scammers push our psychological buttons to acquire our personal and financial information.

With the changing times, consumer preferences have evolved. Retailers now need to review their business models to align to a new normal, where digital DNA will drive growth.

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