How the pandemic continues to influence retail payments

*This article was originally published on Innovating Canada on March 27, 2024.

Stephen Yun headshot

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift towards digital payments in Canada and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Since the onset of the pandemic, many aspects of our lives have changed. The way we pay and get paid is no exception. This is especially true for retailers.

By Stephen Yun, Senior Analyst, Market Insights, Payments Canada

Understanding payment pain points

Payments Canada recently conducted a survey looking at the payment challenges experienced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada, many of whom are retailers.

The payment pain point experienced the most by SMEs was delays in incoming and outgoing payments, with over one-quarter of SMEs (29%) experiencing it over the past six months. Further challenges include additional fees (31%), processing delays (21%) and managing cash flow (21%).

SMEs (17%) also reported security as their biggest payment challenge which more than doubled from 2022. Large businesses had an increase of 40% year-over-year, with 21% reporting security concerns as their biggest payment challenge.

Exploring the benefits of digital payments

The pandemic highlighted the convenience of everything digital, including digital payments. Expanding payments with digital options has been important in attracting and retaining customers.

Access to credit is a critical lifeline for retailers, especially in times of economic downturn. An emerging payment option like buy now, pay later (BNPL) could be beneficial as it allows consumers to pay for their purchases through a series of installments. As BNPL services become more popular, retailers may gain or maintain a competitive advantage by offering this payment option.

Digital payments are perceived to be more secure than paper and card payments. With many small businesses experiencing an increase in payment fraud attempts (89% year-over-year), the convenience and security of digital payments have become increasingly alluring.

Learn more about the future of payments

Future payment innovations present opportunities that will allow retailers to overcome their current payment challenges. I look forward to continuing this important discussion as a speaker at The Payments Canada SUMMIT, from May 29-31, 2024, in Toronto.

Keep reading