What have we learned about card payments in 2021?

It’s been another challenging year for businesses, compounded by on/off lockdowns and travel restrictions as well as working-from-home advice, the implications from which have led to substantial changes in working practices and consumer behaviour. So, what have we learned from our experiences in 2021 and what can we take forward as we move into the new year?

1. That having agile systems and processes is key to business continuity

As businesses dashed to adapt their systems to remote working, those who already used cloud-based and online networks were able to make the move a lot quicker with minimal disruption to services and enabling them to continue to process transactions despite staff and call handlers being either home-based, office-based or a mixture of the two. For those that didn’t have such agile systems in place, there was a race to set them up, in some cases to the detriment of card and data security and often costing the business in resources and lost sales.

Many organisations are now looking at longer term mixed remote and office-based working so the need for agile and flexible systems continues as we move into 2022.

2. That cyber criminals are always ready to take advantage

While the move to internet-connected networks and systems proved invaluable for business continuity, malicious cyber attackers were ready to take advantage of weaknesses in systems that had been speedily patched together. According to the DCMS Cyber Security Breaches Survey published in March 2021, 39% of all UK businesses reported a cyber breach or attack in 2020/21. The move to home working initiated substantial changes to digital infrastructure with many businesses issuing laptops or tablets to staff. But this has created more endpoints for organisations to monitor leading to difficulties in upgrading hardware and security protection.

These challenges highlight the need for businesses to invest in adequate security measures that are easily adapted to different working practices as well as increase efforts to comply with guidelines such as PCI DSS. Working through these requirements ensures that sufficient policies and procedures are in place to prevent a data breach occurring in the payment process and card transaction environment.

3. That offering omni-channel payment methods is essential

While the working practices of many businesses have changed, so too have the shopping behaviours of the consumer, with a move away from visiting physical shops to making purchases online or over the phone. Forward-thinking organisations have taken this further by expanding to other secure payment channels such as email, webchat and social media as well as using IVR technology to accept and process payments made over the phone 24/7 and without the need for a call operator. Creating new payment channels expands the reach to more customers and in turn generates competitive advantage and, while there are perceived challenges in maintaining consistent customer service, this move to multi-channel payment offering looks set to continue and grow as we move into 2022 and beyond.

At PCI Telecom, we create flexible, bespoke card payment processing solutions that are cloud-based and therefore agile to adapt to whatever changes in working practices or consumer behaviours businesses are faced with. Our solutions are compliant with the latest PCI DSS and can be used for payments made over the phone – either to a live agent or via IVR – as well as online, via email, webchat and social media. For more information, visit our Solutions page or get in touch here to discuss your requirements.