Covid has accelerated the drive towards a cash-free future – Mike Elliff

Small businesses are moving to accept contactless payments at a rapid rate, says Mike Elliff

Mike Elliff, CEO at Tyl

The way that we pay has undergone a shift in recent months and while it would be overly simplistic to attribute such developments solely to coronavirus, the ripple effect of the pandemic has indisputably accelerated the nation’s shift away from cash.

When the UK first went into lockdown, shoppers were forced to abandon the high street, salons prepared to close, and pubs rung for last orders in a lockdown that would go on to last for nearly five months. The level of resilience that we saw from our country’s small businesses in the face of such adversity was admirable. Instead of shutting up shop, firms pivoted their business models to weather the storm. Our favourite restaurants offered home deliveries, bars created ‘at home’ cocktail experiences and salons encouraged customers to show support by purchasing gift cards.

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While delivery platforms may seem like a tempting way to facilitate such services, many merchants quickly realised third-party services can be costly, as they can take a substantial percentage through delivery and marketing fees. At a time when revenue was already plummeting, each merchant had to view them with a critical eye – weighing up convenience versus cost.

Tyl offers an affordable alternative. Recognising the challenges faced by SMEs, the payment provider has also made the decision to waive terminal fees until the end of the year and provides 24-hour settlement, ensuring that users receive money in their account the next day.

Such a shift in consumer preference toward contactless payments required an immediate and substantial leap in technology and recent Tyl research found that UK SMEs moved to accept contactless payments at an increasingly rapid rate. Indeed, in the two months following lockdown, 70 per cent of businesses signing up to Tyl were new to card payments.

Further, with social distancing reducing capacity in shops, bars, cafes and restaurants, merchants can no longer restrict payments to the cash desk or bar. Portable terminals such as Tyl grants cashiers the freedom to take payments at outside tables – utilising the entire venue as a payment locus. Tyl customers benefit from access to services such as data insights and local trends, allowing them to understand their customers better and establish their own personal marketing strategies.

Outside of cafes and bars, contactless payments cover more than simply tapping a card machine – with e-commerce looking set to continue as a primary source of economic activity. A recent study reported that 32 per cent of households had increased their e-commerce spend during the pandemic with a further 33 per cent believing their future online purchases will increase.

Arguably, trust in banks has never been more paramount and we are seeing a trend of customers being drawn back to major financial institutions. By sitting within Royal Bank of Scotland’s portfolio of ventures, Tyl is afforded the unique position of utilising the latest fintech developments while offering the security that comes with a trusted banking group.

Cards also offer a more secure form of payment than their cash counterpart, with customers able to freeze their account at the touch of a button and although the contactless limit has increased, it remains capped at £45. Card payments do benefit from strong consumer protection safeguards, and the risks are low if customers shop online with trusted merchants.

While a move to a cash-free future seems like a step forward for payments it has never been more imperative to remember those who will struggle with such a shift; the elderly, those without access to a bank account and the most vulnerable members of society. At Tyl, we are committed to supporting those in need and have pledged to donate a percentage of each transaction to charity. We recognise the need for communities to lean on one another and are working closely with our merchants to develop ways for them to support their local customer base as we look to a post-Covid future.

Tyl is a payment partner that goes beyond card payments, allowing businesses to receive payments quickly and securely. Through next day working settlement, simple pricing and straightforward customer on-boarding, Tyl is designed to help make it easier for SME customers to run their business.

Mike Elliff, CEO at Tyl


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