The world has become a far smaller place since the days when tourists would have to stock up on local currency or engage in strained attempts to convince a restaurant they actually did in fact accept Travellers Cheques.
Nowadays, the onus is on the merchant to do things the consumer’s way and this extends to accepting payment. There is a huge opportunity for merchants in the UK to make themselves more accessible to the global consumer, and if they don’t they can be sure their competitors will be more than happy to do so.
The UK is the eighth largest international tourist destination, with tourism being responsible for £126.9bn (9.0 per cent) of UK GDP, so from Diner Card to Alipay, MasterCard to iDEAL, this means supporting a raft of different options for visiting tourists is essential. So what are some of the different methods available and why should retailers care about them?
‘How Would You Like To Pay Sir?’
There have never been more payment services, especially now the rise of contactless has turned even smartphones into a wallet. So what are some of the different payment methods from the world and why should retailers consider them for their business?
- Visa & MasterCard
The bread and butter of non-cash payments. Although there are a number of lesser known options emerging, retailers should never forget about ensuring the basics. Supporting these is essential for any merchant.
- Mobile Payments
One of the most popular growing forms of payment has been buoyed by the launch of Apple Pay and Samsung pay as well as other heavy-hitters in the tech world. Consumers are growing ever more comfortable with contactless payments and making their mobile phones their ‘go to’ for everything from browsing, communicating and now paying. Ensuring mobile payments are accepted will go a long way to winning over the tech-savvy younger consumer.
- Diners Club & Discover
A hugely popular method of payment, particularly with North American consumers. What’s more, its uptake is growing in other markets too. By supporting these, merchants will be addressing a substantial part of an affluent market.
The biggest payment method you have never heard of. Alipay has the biggest market share in China with over 300 million users. With the UK changing its visa rules for Chinese tourists we’re likely to see more and more Chinese tourists looking to book hotels and tickets for attractions in the country’s tourist hubs. Likewise, for online retailers, support of Alipay will open up a significant market of Chinese consumers shopping online. With over 200,000 Chinese tourists alone visiting the UK in the first 9 months of 2015, the benefits of offering Alipay are huge for merchants.
- Union Pay
The only domestic bank card organisation in China, used in 141 countries and regions across the world, making it the second largest-payment network by value of transactions processed.
The most popular online payment method in the Netherlands. Introduced in 2005, this payment method allows customers to buy on the Internet using direct online transfers from their bank account. For online retailers looking to crack the Dutch market, this is almost a must-have.
A very popular in certain Asian markets including Korea and Japan, and it’s growing in popularity in the U.S as well. Accepting JCB payments would provide a significant advantage to retailers and other merchants in popular UK tourist hotspots like London.
How to introduce yourself to the world
Retailers face a number of problems when looking to incorporate many of the above payment methods. When looking to break into niche markets, retailers should look to work with a partner who is able to implement and advise on new and varied payment solutions.
The security implications of expanding into different markets must also take centre stage in the considerations. Trying to expand too quickly and without due diligence could lead to security problems, such as not adhering to regional regulations or guidelines surrounding the transfer of data, that will hamper any future growth and impact negatively on a merchant’s brand in every market.
Keeping Everyone Happy
We live in a global marketplace and this should be at the front of every merchant’s mind. Competition is fiercer than ever and as such they should take whatever action might give them a competitive edge. This requires consideration of each market’s payment culture and meeting those needs as you would for your domestic customers.
Whether it is supporting Discover/Diner cards for US tourists or Alipay for Chinese consumers online, retailers will need to work with partners that support the widest range of payment methods or risk getting left behind.
Mark Prior-Egerton, Payments and Partnerships Product Manager, The Logic Group
Image source: Shutterstock/Tyler Olson