Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Paradox of Payments Choice

Anamika Lasser, Chief Strategy Officer

This article was originally published on

The pandemic has changed the way we do almost everything. While this has certainly upended life as we once knew it, there are some things that were already set in motion and shifting even before COVID-19 hit. Case in point: Payment options have proliferated, but the extensive options cause more confusion in thinking about how to pay. The next mountain we need to climb is mastering the payments experience, and how it can be smart enough to hide those payment options that aren’t relevant to the buyer, or to tell them which payment options work best. 

Experiences have now become the staple by which various aspects of a business are measured. For example, every touchpoint is a potential opportunity for a sale, both in the physical and digital world. The entire experience can be summed up in just one interaction. 

Payments is a great enabler, as it is the mechanism that allows a company to serve a customer, in any which way and at any given point. I like to think of it as a condensing of the digital universe – or as a condensing of all the things and areas that were available to us before the pandemic. Now more than ever, payments are boiled down to a single thing. 

Take, for example, all these different payment platforms – from bitcoin to Apple Wallet, etc. We are finding that consumers want to use the method that serves them best at any given moment. Now, we’re seeing the importance for businesses to be able to put forth the proper payment platform for any specific scenario in order for a consumer to get what they want. 

Consumers don’t necessarily need more payment options – they need the best option at the right time. For example, Amazon now provides an option to pay by credit card points if the consumer registers their American Express card as a payment method. Imagine the application telling you that if you use a certain payment method, you’ll get more airline points or a credit card reward. 

This is a collision – or a proliferation of choice – that is happening, and consumers need to know the right choice for the right moment. I see this happening most frequently in the world of products. Extending this recommendation and filter to show the user the best payment option at the time of purchase refines the process even more, making it seamless with the product selection process. In a similar vein, payment products can help consumers make the best choice among their various payment options. 

Given that this proliferation of choice has already impacted certain business verticals, I expect that it will also find its way into others – especially those businesses that impact complex areas such as healthcare, real estate and FinTech. 

You could say that in some ways, payments are the next CPG. The proliferation of choice is less about the next big payment platform, but it will require that a company nails which payment platform to use at the right time. 

Before the pandemic, we saw most people using a combination of payment platforms. In that time, we saw the acceleration from cash to credit cards to digital payments. 

The acceleration that’s happening now is with payments, and I look forward to seeing which companies will take that leap to improve the customer experience and the types of payments they offer at certain touchpoints in the purchasing journey, making for a great experience all around.