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Collecting payments: is really about unified commerce NOT just payments

COVID-19 has changed life and e-commerce habits forever. Adyen, the multi-channel, payment provider, has changed how many companies collect payments. An increasing number of companies no longer sign up for a single payment system they sign up with Adyen to collect their payments in a country using whatever payment systems are effective locally. But what do your customers and SME’s want?

MasterCard’s Global State of Pay report

MasterCard has been running their State of Pay Reports for several years in the UK, this year they extended it and now do global coverage.

Consumer needs and wants

In July-August 2020, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, MasterCard remotely surveyed 14,000 consumers who had access to a smartphone and a bank account in 14 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Italy, South Africa, the UK, the US, Poland, Spain, Philippines, Peru, and Thailand. They found that:

  • online banking is now standard for personal banking
  • COVID-19  has  led people across the world to rely on banking apps even more, and it seems they’re here to stay: The majority (87%) of those who had not used banking apps previously said they would continue to use them after the pandemic
  • recent events have accelerated adoption of contactless card and mobile payments 
  • the majority of people are struggling to make ends meet and receive their income more frequently would help them manage their finances better
  • a broad fear of falling foul of financial crime — 16% already have — and their experiences prove there’s more than money to lose
  • there is still a lingering use of cash.

SME needs and wants

In July-August 20202, MasterCard also surveyed 2,800 small-to-medium-sized business owners. They found that:

  • Online banking is now the standard for small businesses
  • 31% felt that cash flow issues led them to consider adopting new technologies
  • 79% felt that “it’s good to have as much payment choice as possible”
  • 82% are interested in increasing the number of digital payments they make
  • Small businesses are worried about being victims of financial fraud.


Overall, the MasterCard study showed that to be attractive to consumers and SMEs companies need to offer a range of online payment systems and services that are easy to use and fit with how the consumer and/or SME run their lives/business. This is the driving reality of business today.

How to minimise payment costeffectively

The British Retail Consortium has been explaining for years that cash at the point of sale/at the counter is the cheapest form of payment NOT cards, their 2020 Survey showed that:

  • Cash remains the most cost-effective payment acceptance channel for retailers with an average transaction cost of just 1.4 pence per transaction
  • Debit cards remain around four times as expensive to process, measured in pence per average transaction 
  • Credit cards are more than three times as expensive to process as debit cards.
  • Cards accounted for almost 80% of retail spending prior to a Covid-19, and this has now increased significantly.

The crucial factor is escaping the ad-Valorem/the % based charges which most payment card systems use, and moving to an ACH/Faster Payments level charge. One way to avoid chard costs is to use ACH based systems that charge per transaction.


The most popular payment scheme in the Netherlands is iDEAL which is an online payment method that enables consumers to pay online through their own bank, so the charge is an automated clearing house level charge, i.e. a fraction of the card ad-valorem charge.

iDEAL can also be used to pay on web sites. Other organisations that are not part of the e-commerce market also offer iDEAL. Plus iDEAL is increasingly used to pay energy bills, make donations to charities, buy mobile credits, pay local taxes, traffic fines, etc.

Recently IDEAL has been expanding their usage by adding new payment channels, e.g. iDEAL QR in which customers can pay with iDEAL via their smartphone using QR codes. Customers scan the QR code either with their mobile banking app (if the bank offers this option), the iDEAL app, a generic QR scanner or their iPhone camera. And then confirm the payment easily with their mobile banking code, fingerprint or face recognition.

Companies can display the QR code, for example, on a screen, poster, cash receipt, collection box or invoice. This opens up iDEAL payments in the catering industry, from a collection box, at-home delivery or from a paper invoice. 

Bring it all together with Unified Commerce

But getting your costs down is not enough, companies need to bring all their payment system usage together with their operations in what Adyen call Unified Commerce. 

Adyen in their report quote Jon Weg. Previously Global Retail IT at Burberry and CIO of the Body Shop, who explains:

“Before the pandemic, there was still a tendency for retailers to manage their customers by channel. That’s changed forever. Customers demand a unified experience with digital playing at least one part in every purchase journey. Brands have to be able to recognise shoppers, provide the same high service levels, and apply appropriate pricing or discounts regardless of channel. Otherwise, the ever-more savvy customer will get frustrated and go elsewhere.”

Adyen’s figure explains how they believe companies need to move from Omnichannel siloed systems to Unified Commerce:

Source & Copyright©2020 – Adyen

Adyen research shows that consumers now expect a unified customer experience. 73% feel that brands should continue to sell across several channels. They also have high expectations of both online and in-store retail experiences. 72% said that an easy online experience is just as important as the quality of the product.

CTMfile take: Unified Commerce is clearly what consumers and SMEs (and probably large companies as well) want. The range of payment system options need to cover all the popular payment systems in each country. Then and only then you need to encourage the most cost-effective usage of the payment systems, as’s Dan Marovitz explains here.

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