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Making contactless payments pay off for your local business

  • Written by Dave Scheine, Country Manager Australia, Podium

By Dave Schiene, Country Manager, Australia at Podium, a communications and payments platform for local businesses

Over the last two years, local businesses have adopted technology with a short-term survival mindset. Today, it’s essential they adopt a more future- and customer-focussed approach, implementing the technologies, tactics and processes that will help them thrive long-term, no matter what the future holds. One of the biggest competitive advantages they can leverage to improve cash flow whilst also catering to evolving consumer habits are contactless, SMS payments. But what are contactless payments? Why are they essential? And how can local businesses add them to their business arsenal?

What are contactless payments? 

Cash payments - once the primary business-to-customer exchange - have been declining steadily for a decade. The transition has exploded recently as the pandemic emphasised the importance of safe and convenient payments. One of the biggest short-term benefactors, and the future we’re so excited about, is contactless payments.

Rather than sending a PDF or paper invoice via email or post - a time-consuming process that stagnates cash flow - a payment request is sent as an SMS directly to a customer’s smartphone with a one-click payment link. They don’t have to call up to issue payment on the phone or login to a separate app, they just have to click the secure link, enter their details and process the payment almost instantly with credit, debit, Google Pay or Apple Pay. Almost AUD$15bn in global transactions were processed through SMS contactless payments in 2020, and that figure is expected to almost double to over $25bn by 2025. 

Why are contactless payments essential? 

Today, it’s essential for local businesses to understand their customers’ trends, habits and expectations, and find ways to cater to these needs. Podium research shows that almost nine in ten Aussies prioritise businesses that offer pandemic-friendly services, like contactless payments, while more than half would consider seeking a competitor if a local business didn’t offer this.

The more convenient and memorable a local business’ service, the easier it is to incentivise loyalty. The benefit isn’t just for the customer, but your business too. Contactless payments reduce admin, increase productivity and improve cash flow - all of which contribute to healthy and efficient businesses. Through Podium’s contactless payments, you can also see the status of every payment, invoice and transaction in one place. It also enables you to forecast cash flow, automate follow-up reminders for overdue payments and even integrates with your accounting software to help when it comes to tax time. 

How can local businesses adopt contactless payments?

First, ensure that your business number can send and receive texts. With Podium you can set up text messaging from your landline and control the entire process via computer, tablet or smartphone. Make this a default method of interacting with your customers and ensure your employees understand the process and feel comfortable answering questions, making sales and issuing payments via text. With the right software, the training will be minimal and the process as simple as sending a text.

Remember contactless is about convenience, so before you set up text payment, ensure you can accept a variety of payment types, including the essentials like debit and credit card, and Apple and Google Pay. The easier it is for your customers, the more likely they’ll pay in a timely manner. Ensure your customers know in advance that you send text payments, though, so they don’t get suspicious and ignore your SMS. And the sooner you issue a payment after completion of the work, the sooner it is they’re likely to pay. 

As a local business owner, it’s easy to think that standing out today requires groundbreaking tactics, but that’s not the case. Consumers want convenient experiences from businesses that understand and value them. Contactless, SMS-based payments are an opportune way to provide not only the services they’ll remember and recommend, but create business processes that drive productivity and boost cash flow. 

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