Now is the time for social distancing to safeguard the population. But the virus cannot spread electronically. That’s why it is extraordinarily valuable for businesses to prepare to offer flexible, convenient, safe and secure web payment options. That will help the businesses, the customers and communities they serve, and the urgent national and global effort to combat COVID-19.
Web Payments as a Lifeline
Many online businesses are experiencing a surge in orders as people stay home and shop by computer. But offline companies and professionals are also migrating to a web-based business model. Tax preparers, financial consultants, attorneys, therapists, fitness coaches, and music teachers are offering video-based consultations and services paid for electronically. The stock price of a web-based meal delivery service doubled. Restaurants have closed their seating areas but are selling take-out. Millions of Americans are purchasing gift cards electronically, in support of small businesses.
A Safer Alternative to Cash
Scientists affiliated with the National Institutes of Health recently revealed that the coronavirus can stay alive on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours. Paper money is a lot like cardboard, and coins have hard surfaces. Even prior to the pandemic, forward-thinking businesses and even leading organizations like the United States Office of Management were touting the benefits of electronic invoicing and web-based payment systems. But once the outbreak started in China, authorities there ordered banks to disinfect their cash. Before going into lockdown mode, the famous Louvre Museum in Paris, France banned cash out of an abundance of caution. Now all across North America consumers are wary of cash and are making purchase decisions based on whether or not the business can accept electronic payments.
Best Practices from WHO
Viruses can sometimes be transmitted by contact with unclean surfaces, and cash is one of those items that is frequently touched by numerous people, but is seldom cleaned. The U.K. newspaper The Telegraph reported in March that the World Health Organization (WHO) was encouraging the public to use digital payments in lieu of cash. The Telegraph cited a WHO representative who said, “Money changes hands frequently, and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses.” To play it safe, they added, “We would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes and avoid touching their face.”
Other Web Payment Benefits
Of course there are dozens of other value-adding features and benefits that accrue from web payments, beyond the cashless aspect. It’s now possible to integrate automated surcharging for online payments, which means the business pays zero merchant fees instead of the typical two or three percent tacked on by credit card companies. A well-designed web payment platform can help launch loyalty and gift card programs. It can make it simple and secure to set up customer-managed and flexible installment payment plans, subscription-based services, and predictable recurring payments. Electronic invoicing is safer in terms of the pandemic, while it also saves time and labor at a time when office staffs are drastically reduced. Web payments are also less vulnerable to fraud and scam artists and make it much easier to do financial reports and projections.
Stay safe and be calm, and let web payment technology provide added business reassurance, agility, and security in unpredictable times.