A focus on frictionless transactions will shape ecommerce trends in 2022. Last year, online payment gateway, PayFast saw the number of unique shoppers on Black Friday increase by as much as 30% – highlighting a significant shift in consumer behaviour towards convenience, flexibility, and personalisation. By minimising the barriers of buying, the payments industry will see faster checkouts, more streamlined transactions, and an overall improvement in access to the digital economy.
“There is still a large cohort of South African consumers that have the potential to be mobilised to adopt digital payments. Improving the customer experience, through the provision of alternative payment methods and improved banking integration, is one way that the ecommerce industry is attracting new audiences. For online businesses, this means fresh opportunities to make sales – provided they stay on top of emerging tech,” says Colleen Harrison, Head of Marketing at PayFast.
While the industry is rapidly developing a host of new technologies to realise these changes, Harrison highlights five key trends will lead the pack:
- Buy now pay later – The buy now pay later (BNPL) model lets customers make immediate big-ticket purchases while spreading out their payments – with zero interest. With better integration into consumer bank accounts and digital wallets, BNPL will become more accessible and inclusive as a short-term finance solution moving forward.
- Direct consumer relationships – Following an increase in direct-to-consumer commerce under lockdown, businesses were ableto develop and nurture authentic, one-on-one relationships with their consumers. Moving forward, businesses will leverage social media channels and micro-targeted campaigns to cement these brand-to-consumer relationships.
- Rapid payments programme – Currently in development and expected to go live in 2022 in South Africa, this next-generation banking concept aims to provide people with the ability to make instant digital payments between banks using simple identifiers, such as mobile numbers or email addresses. The programme is designed to increase access to digital payments for the un- and underbanked, who have traditionally relied on cash as their primary payment method.
- Contactless payments and digital wallets – Last year, PayFast saw a 178% increase in QR code payments, which made up 3.5% of all transactions on the system, a significant increase from previous years. Moving forward, more platforms are likely to introduce a direct link between consumers’ digital wallets and their bank accounts as well as support alternative stores of value, in addition to the South African Rand. These developments will further streamline peer-to-peer payments and digital purchases.
- New stores of value – While money is set to retain its status as a primary store of value, the rise of quirkier and more diverse options is changing the way people transact online. In addition to dollars and euros, loyalty rewards, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly popular mediums of exchange. Although unlikely to go fully mainstream in the near future – the rising trend of alternative stores of value will be interesting to watch moving forward.