Credit cards are convenient, increase the consumer’s purchasing power, and give them attractive benefits such as reward points and cashback. Retail brands have also been issuing cards for years now as a way to get closer to their consumers and integrate themselves into their spending habits.
According to a report on consumer payments, 84% of the respondents said that paying by credit card is a must-have or nice-to-have option for payments. In the US alone, over 175 million people use at least one credit card.
Card programs have also stood up on occasion in times of consumer needs. For instance, during the pandemic, card program managers provided voluntary relief to consumers by giving them an option to defer payments. Consumers were able to use credit cards to make emergency payments.
That said, the world is changing. Although cards are still being used widely, the changing consumer behavior and emerging alternate payment options pose a challenge card program managers must become aware of.
Let’s look at the common consumer behavior patterns that a card program manager must know and pivot accordingly.
3 Consumer Behavior Card Program Managers Must Know
- Reduced usage of plastic cards
Today consumers have the choice to pay through e-wallets, payment interfaces, and wearable devices. They don’t have to carry multiple cards in their wallets. The pandemic has further changed consumer behavior as they preferred to use contactless payment options to avoid contracting the virus.
In fact, consumers have become so accustomed to using digital payments that many experts believe they will continue to use them after the pandemic too. Several studies seem to substantiate that. Contactless cards, for example, witnessed a 150% growth. Meanwhile, the digital payments market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13% until 2023. Digital payments eliminate the need for carrying physical cards. They can be used in different places and websites. So, customers can make digital payments easily. Credit card program managers can leverage this trend by nudging consumers to make credit cards the default payment mode on the websites. Once it is saved, it is unlikely that they will change the payment mode.
- Prefer to pay in full during billing cycles
The pandemic has made consumers conscious of uncertainties. That made them more cautious and financially prudent. Many of them now prefer to pay in full during the billing cycle to avoid carrying over interest or suffering any impact on their credit scores. They don’t want to accrue debts beyond a point.
Gen Z, who have now got the purchasing power and dictate the consumer trends, seem to prefer debit cards over credit cards. Over 58% of Gen Z and 41% of millennials prefer debit cards. This is not an outcome of the pandemic alone. A 2017 study by NerdWallet revealed that debit cards were the preferred payment mode for daily purchases such as gas, groceries, etc. 42% of millennials who use Apple Pay added debit cards as a default option. It’s time that credit card program managers revisit their credit card value proposition to make it more attractive for Gen Z and millennials. Different rewards, attractive offers, payment flexibility could encourage young consumers to make credit card payments again.
- Emerging alternate options
Unlike earlier when cash and card were the only available payment options, consumers of today have multiple options to choose from payments through wearable devices to buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options that offer interest-free periods. 79% of consumers have used P2P payment services like Venmo for transactions. In countries like Australia, nearly half of BNPL users have stopped using credit cards. Retailers like Walmart offer PoS financing solutions and BNPL to get an edge over credit cards. To add to the woes, there’s increasing competition from new age, tech-led fintech companies. These companies leverage analytics and AI to offer personalized products to consumers. Customer-centricity and faster payment solutions are the need of the hour if credit card program managers want to retain customers and sustain their business. They need to keep pace with the different available payment options and use technology to innovate the offerings for consumers.
Although credit cards are still used widely in the US, the growing popularity of alternate payments is posing a challenge to its dominance. Credit card program managers have to evaluate their credit card products and innovate to align with the changing consumer behavior. Here are a few things credit card managers must start doing.
- Revamp the infrastructure: They can no longer use legacy systems for the modern market. There has to be a complete overhaul of the systems and business processes to facilitate modern payment methods such as contactless cards as well as enable greater agility and responsiveness.
- Ensure compliance: While focusing on modernizing the payment systems, credit card program managers must also ensure that the new payment methods are compliant with emerging international frameworks and different regulations.
- Choose the right technology: Program managers must choose the right technology that allows seamless integrations and rich functionalities while tapping the power of the new trends.
The objective is to improve the consumer experience and provide instant gratification similar to other payment methods. To implement these changes, program managers must work with technology partners who understand the industry and its functioning well.
At CoreCard, we bring unparalleled payment industry experience and end-to-end software to help credit card companies to manage all aspects of their card programs efficiently.
To know more, contact us.