ACI: 2021 was the year of the 3Cs

In a year defined by the COVID pandemic, two more Cs have also moved to the forefront of consumers’ minds in 2021: Convenient and Contactless. Debbie Guerra, executive vice president of merchant payments at ACI, says these trends will continue to break old spending habits and transform the retail experience. Read his thoughts in PYMNTS Ebook, “In a nutshell: 50 opinion leaders sum up 2021.”

It’s hard to sum up 2021 in one word. It has been a roller coaster year that has seen locking lows and rebounding highs.

Like its predecessor, this is a year that has finally been defined by COVID – the one word that has reigned over all the others. But he also put forward two other words: convenience and contactless. Together, these 3Cs have transformed payment behavior, acceptance and innovation.

COVID has been both a growth disruptor and an accelerator of change. This forced many retailers so hard that they were forced to shut down, consolidate or increase their investment in digitization as consumers moved online and workers stayed at home.

For consumers, this has broken long-established habits, in particular those of the older generations who, without an alternative, have turned massively to eChannels. Mobile apps have proliferated and new ecosystems have emerged to fuel digital spending, from social shopping to hybrid curbside and click-and-collect services.

For example, our recent research on grocery consumers found that the motives for buying groceries online have shifted from COVID-related concerns to convenience in the latter part of the year. More than three-quarters of those who have increased their use of digital grocery shopping channels said they have done so because digital channels provide an easier and more convenient way to shop, a reversal by compared to October 2020, when the largest share of digital shoppers – 64% – raised concerns about the virus.

COVID has hit workers in the odd-job economy and forced many people to take extra time off. As a result, buy now, pay later (BNPL) and flexible payments have become even more attractive to those looking to spread costs or avoid credit card fees. Meanwhile, alternative payments like PayPal flourished as new payment security-conscious e-commerce buyers sought to protect their payment information when spending online.

As the world went digital, many services introduced to keep customers safe during the pandemic have also reset shopping expectations for convenience.

From faster delivery and one-click purchase, to buy online and pay in store (BOPIS), customers now expect more speed and less friction. , regardless of demographic group. They also want to switch between channels more easily, browsing, choosing and paying where and how they want. More than ever, payments need to be smooth and effortless.

To help them meet the challenge, many retailers are choosing multi-acquirer solutions, not only to optimize payment choice, but also to expedite processing with fewer rejections to maintain high conversion for convenience-oriented audiences. .

Finally, we cannot talk about 2021 payments without shining the spotlight on contactless. The big winner when it comes to physical payments has to be tap and go (payments and other contactless point-of-sale technologies). Keeping buyers and sales staff safe and secure at the point of sale has become the new normal. Contactless transactions have ultimately spoofed cash, which is no longer the primary form of payment for low value purchases.

As a result, many consumers no longer carry cash and many retailers no longer accept it. Raising payment thresholds means the share of contactless payments at checkout will continue to rise, and methods such as digital and mobile wallets could threaten to reduce card market dominance.

The three Cs – COVID, convenience and contactless – will continue to drive change in 2022. The drive to mitigate one while optimizing the others will require even better connectivity between payments and services, closer collaboration between partners and vendors and leveraging payment technologies – including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and anti-fraud – to ensure more personalized and secure experiences, regardless of the channel.



On:More than half of American consumers think biometric authentication methods are faster, more convenient, and more reliable than passwords or PINs, so why are less than 10% using them? PYMNTS, working with Mitek, surveyed over 2,200 consumers to better define this perception gap in usage and identify ways in which businesses can increase usage.

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