The coronavirus has impacted many aspects of how we go about business and our lives in general.
In business, one particular aspect has been the shift to contactless payments. People have been reluctant to handle cash during the pandemic due to safety reasons. Notes pass between many hands and can pick up bacteria and viruses. Handling POS terminals can hold equal risk in terms of hygiene.
Contactless technology was already projected to be on the rise before the pandemic, but experts now believe this will be accelerated in a major way. Consumers have realized the benefits and how easy it is to go cashless, and will likely emerge from the pandemic more conscious of hygiene than ever before.
If your travel business previously handled cash or POS terminal transactions, either with clients or suppliers, it may be time to reconsider how you can shift to contactless payments where possible going forward.
Once travel opens again and you can restart your business operations, not adapting your payments strategy could make people reluctant to transact with you.
Benefits Of Transacting This Way
On top of the reassurance that going cashless and contactless provides in regards to hygiene, the benefits include:
More flexibility in cash flow – you can make or receive payments in advance or on the day when transacting online. Cash or contact terminal payments are usually done on the day, making your cash flow more restricted.
Increased number of payment options – most travelers have access to a bank account and bank card. This makes a transfer and card payments very easy for them to process and gives them the option to choose which they prefer to settle up with. The same applies to paying vendors.
Better accountability – with transactions being recorded as they go into and out of your account, you have better accountability with finances. It’s easier to keep track of who has and hasn’t paid you, as well as who you have and haven’t yet paid.
More control over spending – many vendors won’t accept cash as payment from the perspectives of hygiene, safety, and conveniences. It also costs both time and money to deposit money into a bank. Therefore, transacting online means you can pay most vendors more easily and conveniently.
Better security – handling larger sums of cash can pose a safety risk when moving it around or storing it. Going cashless and transacting digitally means you know that your money is safely stored and accessible in your account.
Options For Travel Businesses To Shift To Cashless or Contactless Payments
When looking at how your travel business can go either cashless or contactless for your clients or vendors, there are a few options you can implement.
As a WeTravel client, you will know that our platform offers a way to pay and receive transactions online, either by bank transfer or credit card. You can invoice your customers or get them to book online on your website using their bank card or a transfer for payment.
When it comes to suppliers, you can transfer funds to them directly and within seconds across many currencies if they have their own WeTravel account.
If they don’t, then you can draw funds from your WeTravel balance to your bank account and pay them from there. Alternatively, you can pay via your Visa virtual card, which we discuss further down.
If you don’t have a WeTravel account, then you can create one for free. In addition to being able to facilitate card and bank transfers online, you get helpful organizational tools designed especially for travel organizers.
Using the platform, you can take in payments from clients, whether in advance or on the day. They can pay via bank transfer or credit card with no need to carry cash or interact with a physical payment terminal. The same ideas apply to settling up with vendors.
Note that bank transfers can take a few days to clear.
Virtual cards, like the WeTravel card, work in a similar way to a regular one. The main difference is that they are cardless and you don’t hold the physical plastic. However, you still get a 16 digit card number with an expiry date and CVV in your business name.
These virtual cards allow you to transact instantly with any vendor that supports online or telephonic payments with the specific payment card network provider, e.g. Visa®.
As a travel business, you can use virtual cards to pay vendors. There is no need to hand over cash or perform a wire or bank transfer, which can take days and can cost a lot in fees.
Vendors benefit because they don’t have to take in notes, and they receive instant payments in their local currency.
If you have an existing WeTravel account, you can order your card and receive it instantly online.
Contactless payments are a way of paying for services or goods without needing to swipe or insert a card into a machine or pass the terminal onto anyone.
The technology is powered by near field communication (NFC) and doesn't require any physical contact between a person's card, smartphone, and the POS reader.
NFC transactions are enabled by radio frequency, which allows the card or smartphone to communicate with the payment reader when in proximity to one another. The required distance between the two is typically four inches or less.
When you see people hover or tap their mobile phone or bank card above or on the reader, this is contactless technology in action.
Contactless payments are used at the point of sale. This means the technology is useful if you expect any walk-in clients or have to pay vendors onsite.
You will need to invest in a reader if you want to accept payments from clients who have the contactless card or who use Apple Pay, Android Pay, or Samsung Pay on their mobile.
If your suppliers have the reader then you can use your compatible card or mobile technology to pay them.
It might be too soon to tell whether the behaviors and habits such as avoiding cash, paying virtually, and contactless payments are here to stay for good. Nonetheless, they are relevant now, as well as convenient and inexpensive for people to implement. At the end of the day, taking note of the current trends in people's behavior can give your travel business an edge in the emerging market.