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By Ian Johnson, Head of European Growth, Marqeta

It used to be that convenience was a thing of luxury for most consumers. Paying for one’s shopping needs with cash, or bank cards, was the absolute norm. Today you’ll find that consumers now expect convenience, and businesses of all types are starting to take note. Technology has introduced consumers to anywhere and anytime commerce, and with such fierce competition existing amongst today’s tech giants the challenge of providing consumers with that much sought after ‘convenience’ factor is turning the payments landscape into the next big battleground. This has been helped along by people’s changing attitudes towards digital banking, combined with a change in consumer expectations.

Changing consumer expectations

Consumers expect their customer experiences – how they shop, and how they pay – to be just as efficient, practical and convenient as everything else in their lives these days. The popularity of contactless bank cards has surged in recent years, thanks to increased adoption from users and merchants. Between June 2017 and June 2018, in-store contactless card payments in the UK surged by​ ​30 per cent​, with​ ​81 per cent​ of debit cards offering contactless capabilities by October 2017, up from​ ​68 per cent​ the previous year. 

Brands and retailers are noticing the importance of convenient payment methods. Our own research at Marqeta found that ​75 per cent​ of people expressing that a smooth payment experience made them feel more positively towards a brand.

Expansion and enablement has gone hand in hand with consumer adoption. People in this digital age expect more because they know that more is possible. This hasn’t gone unnoticed among today’s tech giants looking to infiltrate the payment sector and bring in a whole new meaning to the word convenience.

Next generation payment methods

Technology is already changing how consumers shop both inside and outside the home, with the numerous technological solutions available in today’s payment landscape making it possible for the average consumer to shop from anywhere and at any time. 

Outside of the home, Apple and Google (among others) have earned themselves a reputation as trailblazers that have managed to infiltrate various different sectors. In recent years they have made an attempt at sewing up the payments and mobile wallet markets with​ ​Apple Pay and​ ​Google Pay​, muscling in on territory currently occupied by the likes of PayPal and WePay. Since its launch at the back end of 2014, Apple Pay has slowly but surely been replacing people’s physical wallets and making the process of on-the-go commerce a seamless experience. Its contactless feature capability enables users to pay for their shopping on the go using its secure biometric Touch-ID feature. This has proved popular among millennials, with more than half​ of them in the US and UK being claiming to be comfortable using TouchID and FaceID to authorize mobile wallet payments. It has simplified mobile spending, and with approximately​ ​8.3 million​ people in the UK expected to use mobile payments this year, it is evident that customers are turning to their smartphone devices to shop.

It doesn’t end there for the tech giant, as Apple is joining forces with Goldman Sachs to launch its own credit card. The Apple card will integrate with Apple’s Wallet app and give existing users access to new features and capabilities. This is another example of Apple’s burgeoning influence within the payment space and its ambitions to dominate the market.

One new area of shopping destined to reshape retail is checkout free shopping. Amazon recently laid out its bold plans of revolutionising the in-store shopping experience for consumers with plans to open​ ​3,000 checkout-free stores​, signalling its intent on moving into brick and mortar shopping. For some time now, ecommerce has been position as a direct rival to physical stores, but ever since​ ​Amazon Go​ first introduced us to this new shopping concept when it opened its first checkout-free grocery store in Seattle, US at the beginning of 2018, it is seemingly acknowledging that brick and mortars have their own benefits too.

Convenience is what’s at the heart of this new innovative approach to in-store shopping as customers would be able to link their Amazon accounts to their bank cards via the dedicated Amazon mobile app and purchase their desired products before walking into a store, picking up the prepaid items and then leaving again without having to stop. This hassle-free, cashier-less shopping experience was designed for the ever-busy, time-pressed shopper who wants that added convenience and efficiency when shopping for items in store.

With the convenience differential, it will be up to the payment companies to find ways to standout in an increasingly saturated market. They need to start by appealing to the new demands for convenience and ease at the heart of what’s driving the market forward and delivering effective solutions that can effectively meet these needs. 


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