Why You Must Avoid Today’s Digital Payment Madness and How to Do It

It’s not too far off to compare what’s going on today in digital payments as “The Wild West,” because what we’re experiencing is a real breakdown in orderliness.

Sometimes I’ll be set to pay at a store or restaurant and find the payment terminal covered in what seems like a half dozen obscure payment icons. For a moment or two I think I’m staring at the hieroglyphics on the inside wall of an ancient Egyptian tomb.

Add this to the fact that you continue to randomly encounter merchants who haven’t yet started reading the chips we all have on our plastic, and I think it’s fair to say that making a merchant payment today is often an adventure.

Inconvenience in the name of convenience

I’m sure that you’ve suffered through similar experiences. But, as an owner or manager, the important question for you is this: Are you subjecting your customers or clients to these inconveniences?

It’s very ironic that in the quest to make life easier for customers via digital payments, many merchants are making it more difficult. This puts the spotlight on an important part of the “big picture” that you need to understand and appreciate.

The winners today are generally those who provide the best customer experience. Savvy owners understand the convenience of their payment system is central to the experience they provide their customers. In fact, it’s almost always that last “touch point” in the customer experience. Let me give you an example that happened to a friend about two months ago.

He and his wife were dining at one of their favorite restaurants, which happens to be part of a national chain. He’s on their mailing list and had received an email encouraging him to download their app, so that whenever he dined at one of their locations he could pay directly from the app.

When the bill came, he fired up his app and entered the requisite code. The bill came up in his app, he added in a nice tip, paid the bill, and headed out of the restaurant. As they approached the door, an employee stopped him and asked him to pay. He explained that he paid through the restaurant’s app; the restaurant staff apologized, and he and his wife went on their way.

This example of a digital payment gone bad highlights the fact that the last impression customers have of your business is how effortlessly (or not) they are able to pay their bill. And while I’ve focused on brick-and-mortar transactions so far, online payments are in a similar state of flux.

If you had to grade your business on the traditional school scale of A-to-F, what kind of grade would you receive? There are certainly a lot of moving parts in payments and the ball can be dropped at many points along the way – a server can be distracted and not bring the bill, a cashier may not be at his or her station, a computer can take too much time logging into the company’s network, a price might not scan correctly, and many more.

Meeting consumer demands

Let me mention one more wrinkle to this story: It’s not just digital payment providers who have caused the confusion; consumers are divided on their preferences as well. This means that the trick today is to streamline your digital-payment process while still giving consumers the choices they demand.

These were two of the most important goals at Mastercard as they developed Masterpass. Whether you’re brick-and-mortar, online, or both, Masterpass gives your customers an easy, convenient, and secure way to pay. In fact, if you have an app or may develop one, Masterpass can be built right into it. Masterpass works across the widest array of devices and is virtually the only “digital wallet” that works across all platforms.

Earlier in this post, I mentioned all the cryptic icons we typically find on payment terminals today. With the Mastercard logo on your Masterpass terminal, you take a big step toward eliminating that confusion. While many companies like to claim their logo is “recognized worldwide,” Mastercard is one of the few that can honestly make that statement.

The variety of major companies using Masterpass is testimony to the points I’ve made above. Everyone from United Airlines to Dunkin’ Donuts to Fandango have adopted it. That gives you a sense of the channels and of the range of consumers who are relying on Masterpass.

Let’s get back to that self-assessed grade I mentioned at the top. Now that I’ve more fully enumerated the challenges in today’s digital-payment environment, as well as the solution offered by Mastercard, would you give yourself an A+? I ask because that’s where you want to be if you want to provide the kind of seamless customer experience it takes to not only survive, but thrive today.

Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana wears many hats: author, angel investor, mentor, TEDx speaker, steering committee of the NASSCOM Start-Up Warehouse, Director of Founder Institute, Venture Partner with the seed initiative of a top Venture Capital firm, and former CEO of IIT Bombay’s business incubator, among others. Before all this, he was entrepreneurial twice in the field of education and web publishing. As a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin, he taught e-commerce back in 1993, when the term "e-commerce" had not yet been coined. An undergrad in computer engineering from the University of Mumbai, and an MBA from the University of Texas, Ajeet is presently an active name in the startup ecosystem. From starting two ventures as a solopreneur, to helping a large number of startups with their go-to-market, he has never shied from getting his hands dirty. At the same time he has helped dozens of startups raise investment. He truly believes that small business owners are driving change in the world, and need to be facilitated as much as possible. Innumerable small businesses have gained from his attitude, vast professional networks, financial acumen and digital mindset.

See all posts by Ajeet Khurana
  • All views expressed on the published articles at https://www.mastercardbiz.com are those of each of the authors, and do not in any way represent the opinions of Mastercard International Incorporated or any of its affiliates (“Mastercard”). Mastercard is not responsible of the information contained in these articles.