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The fast rise of POS credit – how banks and credit unions can use their credit cards to offer point of sale financing… without touching the POS terminal

by on June 18, 2019

The fast rise of POS credit – how banks and credit unions can use their credit
cards to offer point of sale financing… without touching the POS terminal

When the first credit cards gained popularity,
they fundamentally disrupted the payments ecosystem – they enabled consumers to
afford high-price products and services. Fast-forward to 2019 and the logic
behind credit cards hasn’t changed much, but the way we shop and pay has. Here,
Mehmet Sezgin, CEO and Founder of
myGini,
explains how modern mobile technology now enables banks and credit unions to tap
into popular point of sale credit options, empower customers to stay in control
of their cash flow and unlock a superior payment experience.

We increasingly use
smartphones to pay contactless, apps to collect rewards and now use new and
fast-growing short-term credit finance at the point of sale – and not always
for big ticket items.

The evolution of
payment technology has diversified into frictionless credit provision at the point
of sale – retailers that realized this early on and entered into technology
partnerships are already reaping the rewards. Now, with card issuers able to offer
more attractive payment installment plans for customers to use at checkout, they
have a golden opportunity to appeal to new prospects, regain lost customer
relationships and benefit from increased loyalty.

Alternative credit – who really wins when a purchase
takes place?
Imagine one of your card
holders wants to buy a large TV ahead of the Superbowl but can’t make a full
payment straight away. They want to make the best financial decision, quick and
easy. What can they do?

Option 1: They
consider using a store-brand credit card. Store-brand credit cards are a
convenient option and usually have better approval rates than general-purpose
credit cards – despite the fact that these cards can come with a high APR, less
enticing rewards and more complex terms and conditions than bank-issued credit
cards.

Option 2: Alternatively,
they can use short-term credit financing at the point of sale. These plans are quick
to apply for, mostly frictionless and offer a wide range of immediate solutions
– one-off finance programs, delayed payments or installments. Outside the U.S.,
third-party technology providers are rapidly taking off to help retailers offer
payment plans – Klarna is one of the most well-known, serving some 60 million
customers. Globally, PayPal Credit is building its fan base.

Two things are common
in both of these scenarios – the customer gets a fast, convenient experience
that will make them return and use the service again, maybe for an unexpected vet’s
bill, maybe just for a big grocery bill. Customer loyalty grows.

But at the same time,
the issuing bank loses out on customer relationships and, in the long term, on
transactions, too. Here is an ideal opportunity for card issuing banks and credit
unions to muscle in on the act.

Payment installments – how issuers can rise to the
top

When consumers choose a
finance option, they want to know how much money and when they will be paying
towards the purchase as well as gain a clear timeline of when the plan finishes
– without worrying about their monthly cash flow.

Bank-driven payment
installment plans can give them this and some issuing banks are now coming
around to offering these. In fact, some have started to realize that the way to
compete with retailers and digital banking challengers is to offer installments
on specific purchases as part of their mobile services.

When financial
institutions offer payment installment plans through their mobile banking app,
they give customers a more complete view of their finances as well as a more
interactive experience – for example, by receiving a push notification when the
scheduled payment has been successful or when their purchase is eligible for
installments. These in-app installment notifications are the issuing bank’s way
of thanking the customer for using their credit card instead of a store-brand
one, saying they understand making a purchase decision is not always easy and
offering a simple and stress-free solution right away.

With mobile-based
installment features, customers can decide more than just whether they want to finance
a purchase – they can opt for different time and installment specifications.
That said, it’s not just the customers who get to pick between options.

Convenience, choice and cutting out IT pain –
the role of fintechs

For banks to offer a sophisticated and personalized service, they themselves
must be able to set the parameters of their installment programs with a large
degree of freedom. Most banks don’t have large IT departments that can design
these services around the customer experience – but some third-party technology
providers specialize in this.

These integrators can
configure installment plans so that they can be offered at specific retailers or
retailer types – both physical and online –, over any spending amount or time
period, specifying eligible customer types, card types and even interest rates.
Outsourcing to fintechs is a viable option to gain a fresh perspective into
customer needs in the form of app user reports and more targeted customer
insight, without the IT burden.

Friction-free – the first choice for today’s
consumer
Customers are looking for
convenient and frictionless payment experiences and will increasingly choose to
spend their money where the option to spread the cost of a purchase is
available. For issuing banks, this means offering payment installment plans can
be the differentiator between gaining a customer and losing one.

Being idle in the
digital age of banking is costing them revenue and customer relationships, but
as more fintech providers step up to help, not hinder them, mobile-based
payment solutions are starting to fill the gap. Although slow to catch up,
issuing banks are well-placed within the payments ecosystem to capitalize on
short-term credit provision – in fact, they can be the biggest winners.

Mehmet Sezgin is a global retail banking and payments expert. After working professionally in executive roles for 30 years, he set up his own payments company myGini, Inc in San Francisco California in May 2016.

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