The existence of many businesses depended back in the day on cash. Cash is king, went the adage! Cash flowed, literally through the books and was the lifeblood of an organisation. Cash payments from customers in, cash payments to service providers out.
But all that has changed. Cash is no longer the commodity it once was and face-to-face trading is largely a thing of the past. The biggest commodity today for any business, especially SMEs seeking to grow their operations, is the ability to trade anywhere in the world on new and varied digital platforms.
We have gone from the now obsolete cheque to the credit card machine which involved nothing more technical than a carbonised paper slip and a clunky slider that recorded the card’s imprint, to today’s plethora of payment devices and platforms which make the payment collection space more streamlined, safer and a source of much more than just financial revenue.
Cash depends on your customer being in proximity to your business and having physical access to your goods and services. Now, we are all trading in a global environment and neither businesses nor customers care where they are in the world. Transactions and product or service delivery are affected remotely, providing a massively increased client base to whom we can market.
According to data, cash represents just 30% of all payments. The number of people who rely solely on cash dropped from 24% in 2015 to just 18% in 2018, and there have been many developments in the digital payment space since then. Millennials and Gen Z are leading the way in the adoption of new payment methods. Today, they wear their wallets on their wrist as smart watches record fitness levels and deliver social media and other online communications directly to them, in addition to providing a miraculous way to make direct payments for anything they want.
All this is dependent, of course, on SMEs having the corresponding POS device, a subscription to mobile payment platforms and messaging Apps which enable them to accept payment through any of these channels. Not only are fast and safe payments transmitted digitally, but many of the new cashless payment options also provide a wealth of information about the customer including demographics, spending habits and product preferences. All this data can be mined, enabling businesses to target their consumer market allowing them to create loyalty programmes for better customer retention.
Sometimes we have to spend money to make money, and in today’s digital era, we would advise any SME to make an investment in as many digital payment platforms as they can. This will allow them to conduct business in the most efficient and flexible fashion, integrating emerging technologies into business processes and providing customers with as many options as they require, and increasing demand.
We believe that any investment in cashless technology will undoubtedly yield a significant ROI for your small business in the long term.