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2021 payment trends recap: A year in review

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

At the beginning of the year, we gathered expertise from industry leaders and partners to help businesses and issuers better position their companies for growth in the year ahead. In our 2021 Commerce and Payment Trends Report, we identified five key trends that would help businesses remain competitive and thrive. These trends ranged from the accelerated growth of contactless payments and embedded fintech to the expansion of omnichannel and digital experiences. The common theme across them all was the seismic shift to digital commerce.

As the year comes to a close, we're revisiting and recapping these key commerce and payment trends. And with the benefit of hindsight, we'll explore how they came to fruition.

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Digitization of commerce

Many experts believe that the "shift to digital" accelerated three to five years as consumers sought a safer means of purchasing goods in the early days of the pandemic. Over the course of 2021, ecommerce evolved further as consumers got used to the convenience and simplicity the channel offered.

Businesses are now starting to think of ecommerce more holistically, as a means to keep customers engaged throughout the buying cycle–from awareness all the way to purchase.

Issuers are also adapting. In our recent survey*, 67% of issuers reported introducing new digital capabilities to their customers in 2021. These digital capabilities enable better commerce experiences for their customers.

67% of issuers reported
introducing new digital capabilities to
their customers in 2021.

Source: Global Payments 2022 Commerce and Payment Survey

Hail to the customer

Consumers have gravitated to online shopping. And businesses are digitally transforming to meet that demand. In fact, in PwC's 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey, over half of the consumers surveyed said they're more digital than ever before, with 39% shopping from a smartphone. And 23% of consumers are shopping online at least daily.

Consumers expect the added convenience and simplicity of digital payments to extend to their in-store experience as well. As a result, businesses are expanding payment options, letting customers pay via a QR code, with a tap of their digital wallet, a click of a link in a text message, or within their social media platforms.

Consumers surveyed say they are: 

50% more digital than before; 39% shopping from a smartphone; 23% shopping online at least daily

...ecommerce has become a mainstay of our business. In fact, 25% of our business now comes from ecommerce activities...

Cameron Bready, Global Payments
President and COO

In payments, the dramatic and continued shift to ecommerce is unfolding in real time. With the acceleration of the digitization of commerce resulting from the pandemic, ecommerce has become a mainstay of our business. In fact, "25% of our business now comes from ecommerce activities where we serve over 170 markets virtually with on-the-ground presence in 38," says Cameron Bready, president and COO at Global Payments.

Delivering on the promise of digital

According to KPMG Digital Transformation Research 2021, more than half of the organizations surveyed have accelerated the digitization of the buying experience in pursuit of 'next-generation' operating models, and 62% have advanced the creation of a seamless digital customer experience. A further 37% of businesses have developed new channels to serve customers. Our own recent research* puts that figure even higher at almost 49% of survey respondents reporting they introduced new channels or platforms in 2021 in response to shifting customer behaviors.

Consider how consumers now order food using a mobile app, how entertainment venues and sports stadiums have gone cashless, and how healthcare has changed with the broad-based adoption of telemedicine. Showing what's possible when business software is combined with payments, our Greater Giving solution offers nonprofits a full-featured fundraising solution with event management, online auction and bidding, online payments, and even peer-to-peer fundraising built in.

62%

Organizations that have advanced the creation of a seamless digital customer experience in 2021.1
— KPMG

Merchants should expect their providers to present a cohesive solution that combines both software and payments.

Frank Young, Global Payments
President, Vertical Market Software Solutions

"Businesses have realized the importance of digital transformation and advanced their digital capability over the year. However, technology constantly evolves. There is no end to digital transformation and businesses should keep up in the race of transformation," says Konrad Chan, president of Asia Pacific at Global Payments.

While enabling digital commerce may seem daunting and complex for some businesses, it's the role of your provider to reduce the complexity. Frank Young, president of vertical market software solutions at Global Payments, advises that “merchants should expect their providers to present a cohesive solution that combines both software and payments."



The sea change to a digital commerce world is unlikely to turn back. Whereas safety and the need for necessities drove the dramatic spike in digital commerce during the pandemic, convenience and simplicity were the drivers of its evolution in 2021.

Want to learn what 2022 will bring? It's coming soon, so you won't have to wait long! Sign up here.

*Global Payments conducted an online survey among businesses and issuers between September 28, 2021 and October 18, 2021.

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