I remember on New Year’s Day last year being so excited that 2020 was finally behind us. The pandemic would soon be a thing of the past, right? Well, not so fast. The “new norm” we keep talking about is starting to stick, and the shift from physical to digital payments continues to quicken.

Touchless technology adoption is accelerating toward cashless, cashier-less, autonomous stores and, in general, payments are being freed from human contact. Expect this trend to continue and for point-of-sale sellers to get even more creative with Covid-induced digital transformation in 2022.

Addressing concerns about viral contagion and cyber risk was the mother of invention in 2020 and 2021. From curbside delivery to delivering items outside the store while customers gas up or charge their vehicles, merchants are thinking fast and acting on new opportunities to engage consumers and differentiate themselves from the competition. Most of these capabilities are accessible by merchants via the cloud, resulting in an ever-increasing need to work with partners that are focused on network and data security, as well as compliance.

Cloud Acceleration

Digital transformation means not only more applications moving to the cloud, but more applications accessible to the masses and even on the premises of smaller, mid-market merchants. We’re seeing plenty of different ways to pay – PayPal, Venmo, Google Pay, Apple Pay, digital wallets, a merchant’s own currency, tokens or even crypto – but we’ve only scratched the surface on re-defining the buyer/seller relationship through digital interaction.

There are more credit, loyalty, charity, gift and private label cards, schemes, and third-party integrations of all kinds, now only limited by the imagination. There is a continuing connectivity explosion with fuel dispensers, kiosks, IoT, scan-and-go, EV charging payment systems and all manner of digital platform interactivity, with more customer value adds all around, on and off premise.

With more ways to pay and more consumer touchpoints, data is more accessible to the public. Within this ecosystem, there come more opportunities for fraud, and in turn the need for network and data security.

A year ago, biometrics-enhanced security methods were predicted in the future. Today, this technology is already ingrained with consumers getting used to finger and face identity and voice recognition on their own devices. Open banking and curveballs like crypto are gaining some traction, and now that it’s getting on regulators’ radars, digital currencies are becoming quite real in some areas, such as hospitality. There are new avenues of attack coming at us every day.

TNS recently conducted a survey with our security solutions partner Fortinet. Approximately 60% of respondents reported implementing mobile applications and contactless transactions in response to changing buyer behaviors and social distancing mandates. With these factors driving security concerns, almost 70% view the implementation of a secure, SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network) as mission-critical technology. Most will be deploying new systems and upgrading with managed service solutions this year and in 2023 to streamline the customer experience, defend against expanding threats, and to reduce points of vulnerability.

Complex Transformation

The increased flexibility of employees working from home and more dynamic workplaces are here to stay. Consumer traffic patterns and buyer behaviors have been permanently altered. Enterprises have shown they can operate with a distributed workforce and more automated supply chains. Traditional retail, grocery, fuel & convenience, QSR, theaters, and hotel chains are rethinking their commercial real estate, how they staff, how they market and promote, and how they spend their money.

All these factors add up to more complexity for merchants and those enterprises that support them. In this software-defined retail network environment, TNS is evolving with our customers in the provision of value-added, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions overlaid on our global networking platform. With options for P2PE (point-to-point encryption), tokenization, internet security, and payment orchestration, we have the platform and the tools for managing large estates of endpoints. 

There’s more on everyone’s plate, and merchants need partners to bring it all together on the payments side so they can focus on the core of their business: their customers. Disruptions and distractions to this mission are becoming more costly, and most chains are opting to outsource day-to-day functions that are not core to their businesses, including store connectivity and management of their payments infrastructure. At TNS, we’re focused on expanding from payment connectivity to complete payments platform capabilities by putting the merchant’s needs at the center of everything we do.

It’s 2022, whether we see light at the end of the tunnel or not, the point of service is a moving target, forcing retail to focus on payments and the customer experience more than at any time since the invention of the credit card. The pandemic was, indeed, global, and as we roll into 2022 and beyond, many of its impacts are most definitely not temporary. So, no matter how big or in what corner of the world, stores can’t afford not to keep up.

To learn more about TNS and our Infrastructure-as-a-Service solutions portfolio, please visit: https://tnsi.com/solutions/payments.