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WHY THE FUTURE OF REMOTE WORKING HAS ARRIVED

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According to Fast Company, plenty of companies have recently struggled urgently to transform large parts of their workforce into work-at-home employees. At the same time, these businesses and employees can seize an opportunity to improve. Done right, both people and companies can enjoy the benefits of a more flexible workforce for years in the future.

Of course, the idea of working at home and at other remote locations has already been growing at a modest but consistent rate. Implementing the policies and systems that can enable more flexible workplaces and schedules would please employees and help businesses compete for the best people

Research has shown that telework opportunities tended to decrease employee attrition, improve morale, reduce absences, increase productivity, and even save companies money.

For just a couple of examples, AT&T found that employees used most of the time they didn’t have to spend on commuting by doing more work, and Sun Microsystems said that their remote employees actually worked five hours a week more than those who had to come into the office.

Polls of professionals found that just about one-third would even choose a work-at-home option over a raise in pay — and about the same percentage would accept a modest decrease in income to have this option.

 

What’s Wrong with Quick-Fix, Work-at-Home Solutions?

Historically most companies lacked solid continuity plans to accommodate employees for sustained office closings. Lots of less-prepared companies have been allowing employees to turn to ad-hoc solutions like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Zoom.

Some businesses might even mistakenly encourage this to relieve traffic on their own strained networks. Some people may work productively at home. However, they don’t instinctively apply the same good security practices at their home office as they do at work.

For instance, they may have work systems open in one window and social media or streaming services open in another one. They might login to work over an insecure connection or jump into a Zoom meeting that doesn’t require a password without even knowing who else might have entered the meeting to listen in.

At the same time, companies should prepare for an increase in such threats as Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attacks, phishing, and ransomware. Meanwhile, IT security people are far away and probably working from their own homes.

Even beyond urgent security concerns, letting teams and employees pick their own tech solutions can lead to plenty of problems managing data, not least if remote workers begin creating their own data silos. If one team uses Google Drive and another uses email to send attachments back and forth, how can anybody control ownership, versioning, and allowing redundant or outdated information to impact business decisions?

 

Fast, Secure, Business-Grade Solutions to the Work-at-Home Boom

A modern, intelligent, cloud-based, and enterprise-grade information management system like M-Files will not only alleviate security and data integrity concerns. It can also help improve business processes to make remote or in-office employees even more productive. For instance:

  • Client and project information can be accessed and controlled in one single place – no matter where they are saved.
  • Managers can set granular rules depending on roles, document type, workflow, and more. Only the right people can access, edit, share, or change information.
  • Clients stay informed on the status of the project via a secure and fully customizable portal. Staff chooses what to share, and managers keep control on information.
  • Since the system tracks actions, there is full visibility on what changes are made, when, and by whom.
  • Staff can find documents with a simple query, just by knowing what they need. Remembering in what folder a document is saved is no longer necessary.
  • Processes can be automated, so that documents move with no need to print them or send them. Assignments and notifications tell staff when action is required, for example to review, approve, or sign.

Remote work can please employees and improve business at any time. Right now, finding workable solutions to the growth in remote work has grown critical. Businesses that can quickly implement the best solutions will find ways to emerge from the current situation as better companies and better places to work.

 

Business

THE ACCELERATION TOWARDS A MOBILE FIRST ECONOMY

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By Brad Hyett, CEO at phos

 

Over the last year, we have seen a big shift towards contactless payments. Fuelling this has of course been the coronavirus pandemic, which has made the public hesitant to handle cash due to the health concerns.

As multiple national lockdowns forced physical stores to close, and customers demanded easy, cash-free payment options, merchants had to quickly adapt. The result? An increased provision of pay and collect services.

In the UK alone, 83% of people use contactless payments according to data from the Office of National Statistics.

So it’s vital that merchants are equipped with the most efficient payment solutions, as the UK heads towards a mobile-first economy.

 

Proliferation of contactless payments

In 2020, 90% of UK card payments were contactless. This equates to an increase of 12% on the year prior, despite the total number of payments made falling by 11% from 2019 to 2020. Moreover, the affordability of smartphones has increased significantly over the last decade. And it’s estimated that 84% of UK adults now own one.

We’re Seeing merchants embrace more efficient and cost effective payment methods in response. While physical payment terminals are often too expensive for many small businesses, software point of sale, or SoftPoS, enables merchants to turn hardware that they already own – i.e. their mobile device – into a point of sale terminal.

With merchants increasingly adopting these innovative technologies, contactless payments will continue to gain popularity among the general public. In 2020, 13.7 million people in the UK either didn’t use cash at all or only used it to make a single purchase. That’s double the same figure from the previous year.

 

Changing consumer demand

Now more than ever, consumers are aware of how innovative payment solutions can add efficiency to their daily lives. As such, consumers now demand better payment services, including reduced queuing times, checkoutless stores, and bespoke loyalty schemes.

Businesses such as Mercedes offer an end-to-end digital car purchasing service, so customers can go through the whole car purchasing journey from the comfort of their own home. This includes car deliveries, financing, insurance and more.

Meanwhile, eCommerce giant Amazon has started trialling checkoutless ‘Go’ stores, speeding up the shopping experience by eliminating the queuing process altogether. The days of waiting for a table at a restaurant are also over, as more people have grown used to booking in advance.

Hence, it’s important that we empower small businesses to remain competitive and provide them with the payment solutions to meet customer demand.

 

Global transformations

The digital payments revolution isn’t slowing down anytime soon. By 2026, only 21 percent of transactions will be made using cash.

The US might have been slow out of the gate, but it’s starting to see increased adoption of mobile payments. In-store mobile payments grew by 29% in the States last year alone.

This growth was primarily fuelled by Gen Z-ers and millennials. Latest projections show that there will be 6 million new mobile wallet users by 2025, with millennials accounting for 4 million of this figure. These two generations, the former in particular, have grown up with mobile banking.

For most Gen Z-ers, their first foray into financial services was with a challenger bank like Starling or Monzo. These banks are able to offer online features such as ‘split the bill’, fee-free withdrawals abroad and much more to cater to the modern financial needs of the younger generation.

The Middle East experienced similarly sharp increases in contactless payments. From 2019 to 2020, there was a 200% growth in contactless transactions. This shift towards a mobile-first economy in the region was inevitable; the pandemic merely accelerated this shift. A recent study showed that 80% of people living in the Middle East planned to continue using contactless payments post-pandemic, with speed and security being the main draw.

 

The future is mobile

As parts of the world now start to come out of lockdown, there’s an openness to new solutions and a widespread acceptance of new technologies.

It is now a case of when, rather than if, we’ll see a permanent shift to cashless in the future. For businesses, embracing digital innovation will be key to remaining competitive and keeping pace with consumer demand in this fast-changing payments landscape.

 

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HOW MERCHANTS CAN IMPROVE THE ONLINE PAYMENTS EXPERIENCE

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By Alan Irwin, Senior Director of Product at Global Payments UK

 

The dramatic increase in online shopping over the past 18 months has encouraged many businesses to invest in developing their omnichannel shopping experiences. The reasons vary – some are keen to capitalise on the trend of older shoppers migrating towards ecommerce and some are trying to make up for loss of sales in brick-and-mortar stores during the pandemic. It is also true that many businesses are shifting their models to sell direct to consumers to avoid high marketplace fees and are therefore building their ecommerce channels for the first time.

The checkout experience is arguably the most important and delicate part of the ecommerce transaction, as it can make the difference between a happy customer likely to return, and a shopping cart abandoned out of frustration and confusion. A survey from March 2020 suggested that 88% of online shopping orders were abandoned, i.e. not converted into a purchase. A seamless, customer-centric online payment experience is therefore critically important in ensuring completed transactions. But with so many payment providers available, what should businesses be looking for when trying to keep friction to a minimum?

 

Keep clicks to a minimum

Less touchscreen interaction equals less abandonment. Adapting the payment page to fit any device and supporting popular mobile digital wallets like Google Pay ensures a seamless, stress- and hassle-free checkout experience for the customer and keeps clicks to a minimum. Friction can present itself in the most minor features – for example, when the customer is navigating the payment form, the appropriate keypad should be shown to the customer when required. It’s much easier to enter a card number using the dial pad instead of switching between QWERTY keypad layouts.

Simplifying online forms with autofill and tokenisation also significantly reduces friction at checkout and shortens necessary time taken. Ensuring checkout forms are tagged correctly for “autofill” is a great way to offer customers a single-click to input the payment, shipping, and billing data that they have stored in their browser profile. Similarly offering a guest checkout option will help convert customers who are in a hurry or looking for a one-off purchase. This can also be achieved by offering to store the payment details (called ‘tokenisation’) for express repeat and one-click purchases.

 

Make it easy to understand

A tailored payments approach can increase both domestic and international global sales. By offering a checkout experience in the customer’s language, the option to pay in their currency of choice, and use their preferred method of payment (whether it’s PayPal, Alipay or card), businesses can build loyalty quickly and put customers at ease. It is equally important for merchants to ensure they always display simple direction and information about next steps to instil confidence and prevent customer drop-off. The customer should be informed of what is happening at every stage in the process, for example, whether they will proceed to SCA (Secure Customer Authentication) next or go straight through to completion.

In addition, validating forms in real-time means merchants can highlight potential errors to the customer early on, and payment providers should provide this functionality. This could be an invalid expiry date, an incorrect digit in the card number or incorrect CVV number based on card type. When issues are only flagged at the end of the process, this forces the customer to go back through the steps to figure out the error. Real-time signposting of problems removes this potential friction and reduces the potential for a declined transaction.

 

Ensure seamless security

Merchants should work with a payment partner who offers the right blend of security and compliance management without it coming at a cost to the end-to-end checkout experience for the user. Instilling trust and security in your checkout flow while utilising the right solutions to drive seamless authentication flows will increase customer confidence and help prevent drop-off.

The greatest level of security and control comes from either utilising hosted payment fields that the
merchant can natively integrate into their checkout flow, or a hosted payment page where they can
manage the look and feel. Showcasing your brand on the checkout page with trust signals and logos also adds to building trust with the customer.

Staying ahead of regulations is also important. Secure Customer Authentication (SCA) will soon be mandatory in the UK for all eligible digital transactions, and this doesn’t have to be a friction-full process. Tools like Transaction Risk Analysis (TRA) and Exemption Optimisation Service (EOS) can quickly score transactions and drive exemptions where there is the right blend of transaction risk.

 

The devil is in the details

These three rules for successful ecommerce checkout experiences may seem straightforward, but it is important to apply them at a micro level. It can take only one minor point of friction to cause a customer to abandon their cart, and this will inevitably be replicated across other similar customers. It is critical to identify friction points early on and anticipate customer needs throughout the process. Discussing these points and any opportunities to improve customer checkout experience with your ecommerce team and payment provider is an important first step towards ensuring your entire shopping experience remains competitively seamless and loyalty is won. It may be that your payment provider cannot address them, in which case it could be time to move on in order to stay competitive.

 

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