We didn’t realize how great and extremely useful payment options could be until we started having so many choices. This puts the customer experience in the frame more than ever as people decide on their preferred payment methods and vendors compete for premium status.
With nearly two-thirds of consumers willing to do business elsewhere if their preferred payment method isn’t available, retailers need to rethink their payment experiences.
For the most part, however, merchants are still working to improve the checkout experience, Cory Gaines, chief product officer of Blackhawk Network, told PYMNTS. The prepaid card industry is doing its part by streamlining an evergreen payment product, making it more convenient for consumers no matter what channel they’re shopping on.
“Think of Uber, where you consume, and payment is an afterthought,” Gaines said of reflecting on how payments have changed before and during the pandemic. “It’s either done in advance or done invisibly. Retailers are going to be faced with the same things.
It’s about setting the context, he said, and making payments part of it. For Blackhawk, this takes the route of tokenization and the creation of contactless e-gift cards that can be emailed to the recipient, activated, and redeemed through the coveted seamless flow everyone is looking for.
“If this is a giveaway experience, why not make it easy to download a few Giphys or even register as an opener to receive that gift card?” he said. “Or maybe the gift card, on the first transaction, sends back thank you notifications to further connect the giver and recipient to a meaningful and memorable experience.”
Noting that Blackhawk has responded to new pandemic demands with these and other features, like new card delivery and supply deals, he said savvy retailers are one step ahead of the game when it comes to is about taking advantage of digital trends to create a better experience.
See also: Blackhawk expands partnership with Kroger for more B2B gift cards
Asia leads by example
With the big quit, rising wages, and inflation all putting added pressure on employers, 2022 is a year where gift cards can streamline relationships, not just transactions. Employers are increasingly using prepaid gift cards to recognize and reward employees in a way that delights recipients and is administratively easy to manage.
“Consumers, as employees, need to be rewarded for doing a good job,” Gaines said. “Using stored-value products to incentivize and reward behavior and build loyalty – these are age-old aspects of the payment business.”
There still remains the question of expanding prepaid and gift card programs to be more convenient and contactless – and to generate as much convenience and ease as consumers now demand. For inspiration, Gaines looked to Asia, where prepaid cards are a key financial instrument.
“If you look to the East, in markets like Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and India, where self-consumption is much stronger than in the United States or [in the west]people are attached to these products and they try to find ways to use them again and again,” he said.
This opens up new use cases for prepaid cards in regions where they are much more widely used – in some cases, preferred – as a method of payment, donation and even budgeting. The expansion of prepaid cards continues with other payment technologies, and in some regions this means more social commerce, where digital prepaid cards are part of the mix at checkout.
“A lot of commerce happens on social media and some of the networks in those areas,” Gaines said. “QR codes in retail is another thing that they’ve been really looking at, especially in Indonesia. It’s really about bringing digital into a physical environment.
Read also: Blackhawk Network acquires stake in Wogi in Singapore
The greening of prepaid
As 2022 progresses, Blackhawk continues to innovate along trend lines that resonate with more socially conscious consumers who choose their products based on these lights. Saying the company is “spending a lot more time” on environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations in product development, Gaines described a greening of gift cards.
Winking that companies are members of the community with ESG obligations, he said: “We are looking at how we are reducing the level of plastic we put on J-hooks. We are looking at our communications, let’s take a look at our data centers. »
Overall, the issue Blackhawk is tackling is the ESG dilemma of all companies now. Because physical payment cards remain the predominant form of payment, Blackhawk is rethinking the tactile appeal of cards versus the environmental impacts of plastic.
“It’s about making sure we maintain that feel but do it in an environmentally friendly way,” he said, adding that “the continued tokenization of our products in factors of digital form will make things easier”.
See also: Carrefour operates the Blackhawk network for branded gift cards