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The Program Manager’s Guide To “Contactless” Cards And Payments

The COVID-19 pandemic was a disruptive event for the payment industry.

Consumers became ultra-conscious of the need to avoid physical contact with “high-traffic” surfaces at greater risk of contamination and the demand for contactless payment options soared to an all-time high.

Most experts agree that consumers will continue to prefer contactless payment options even after the pandemic is behind us. They have come to value the convenience contactless payments offer and their flexibility in integrating with the many popular digital channels of today. That’s why, by some estimates, the global market for contactless payments could touch USD 18 billion by 2025.

The contactless payments ecosystem comprises cards, digital wallets, and a host of peer-to-peer payment applications provided by traditional banking entities as well as new generation fin-tech companies, and tech behemoths like Apple and Google. In the digital age, the payment experience has come to become a vital part of the overall customer experience and is much more crucial for that reason.

For program managers of cards programs wanting to ride this wave though, enabling contactless payment isn’t always a walk-in-the-park.

They have limited access to knowledge and technology resources that focus on the payment infrastructure necessary for enabling contactless and digital payments. Program managers who end up responsible for the seamless delivery of payment experiences need to be well-informed about the process of onboarding contactless payment options. For program managers in that boat, here is a quick guide:

Planning for Change of infrastructure

Adopting contactless payment is an innovative, and possibly disruptive, step for a business to take on the road to offering increased customer convenience. The program manager needs to win the confidence of all key decision-makers and stakeholders who will be impacted by the change. This may not be about dramatic and immediate changes to the volume of transactions with the addition of contactless payment options. However, business processes and workflows as well as the physical infrastructure used for handling payments may have to change. For instance, the cards themselves may have to change to facilitate contactless payment. Some of these changes may be sudden and others ongoing. So, you need a clear analysis of the impact footprint prepared beforehand and accepted by all that matters in the organization to ensure necessary preparation. In fact, if you have a modern card management platform like Core Card, then your technology backbone is better equipped to handle contactless payment options.

Ensure Compliance

Payments and banking systems are among the most regulated entities in the world with different regulations applying at different levels. There are international frameworks and policies and regulations cascade down to the regional or national level. It is critically important to ensure a clear understanding of the regulatory framework that applies for contactless and digital payments across all your operational sectors and markets and then ensuring the program complies.

Promoting Digital Wallets

Digital wallets are a great option to boost choice for customers and drive customer experience and solutions are proliferating. In fact, research shows that the mobile wallet market size globally will hit nearly USD 7.5 trillion by 2027. For the program managers in the space, this suggests a clear focus on going digital. Wallets not only provide a convenient contactless payment facility for consumers but also allow them to digitally manage their finances easier than with physical cards. Program managers would need to build mobile wallet and digital only channels to ensure that customers can leverage the benefits and in turn remain loyal to the brand. This will almost certainly mean significant changes in the technology infrastructure too.

Seamless Systems Integration and Technology upgrade

The most complex decision the program manager must make is the choice of technology. You need a technology backbone and transaction processing system that allows seamless integration and provides rich functionality to enable the new contactless payment infrastructure. This may mean changes or upgrades to technology implemented and being utilized by different departments. One of the key facets to consider here is how flexible and agile the technology backbone is? The modern consumer is fickle, and requirements change often. Addressing what matters to the consumers “today” may mean regular changes to the programs and ongoing feature additions. The chosen technology, and especially the processing solution, must be capable of change at that rate. In many ways, this decision has the greatest bearing on the ongoing success of the program.

Creating and Communicating Best Practices

The most visible and dramatic change will occur at the customer end as contactless payment options take over. For example, the program manager will have to ensure that all customer touchpoints offer a consistent and secure experience with the new payment system. When the program calls for deep changes, such as a change of cards or the infrastructure used at the PoS, it is important to frame a set of best practices and ensure all those managing various customer touchpoints are aware of the best practices, possible problems, integration issues, and likely customer concerns. This will drive faster and more consistent adoption of the new payment infrastructure across the business without disruption. Creating these communication challenges is also crucial to ensure that relevant information about ongoing changes percolate down the line, as it should.

Contactless payment will inevitably become a significant part of the modern payment landscape. In fact, businesses may not be able to turn back after starting such programs as consumers get increasingly used to innovative experiences in their interactions.

As a program manager, we hope this handy guide will help you get started on the road to contactless payments. Of course, it’s important to select the right technology, tools, and partners to enable that change. That’s how to ensure end-to-end management of the new payment tech, enable seamless workarounds while your existing systems work as they did before, and guarantee compliance. For more information on how to enable risk-free contactless payment experiences for your business, get in touch with us.

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