In-Person Payments are Not Going Away: Here’s Why.

The transformation of private sector payments has gone at warp speed. In what feels like a blink of an eye, people can now send or receive money in countless ways that they couldn’t only a short time ago. The public sector is looking at the rapid changes in the private sector and is determined to forge a similar path forward. But governments and utilities realize that the move toward digital payments doesn’t mean in-person payments will disappear. In fact, a significant portion of customers continue to need or prefer accessible, in-person payment channels.

This puts the onus on institutions to extend more modern payment channels for in-person payments. Customers are demanding that the same features that come with a fully online experience be available for in-person transactions. Staff also want to be able to deliver the same great customer service to all customers, regardless of how they choose to make payments.  

The question remains: why are in-person payments still so prevalent? There are a number of reasons.

Support the unbanked and underbanked populations

Equitable access has become a core tenet of operations for governments and utilities, and rightfully so. The essential services they provide and the wide range of customers they service warrants a strong people-first approach to all operations. Unbanked and underbanked populations deserve additional consideration. With the limited ways in which they can make payments,and added fees to process payments at 3rd party locations, these populations experience additional burdens. 

Many unbanked or underbanked customers have no choice but to pay bills with cash, which means governments and utilities must extend in-person payment channels that accept cash

Less Tech-Savvy Customers Prefer the Personal Touch

Old is gold 

Customers build habits and expect consistency in how they do business. Sometimes customers are more trusting of interactions facilitated in person with the help of staff. They get added assurance from the live interaction, they can ask follow up questions on the spot and get answers right away, and they walk away feeling confident their payment was received, processed, and confirmation was provided with verbal acknowledgement and a physical receipt. While many aspects of the payments process can be achieved or substituted through an online or self-service payment experience, the human component cannot be replaced and for some, that’s enough reason to walk into an office or payment center to complete a transaction.

Many Transactions are More Complex in Nature 

Some transactions are simply too complex for a digital experience. It’s easy to put straight forward payments online with very simple workflows but more complex transactions require a more intricate sequence of steps for successful processing. When a transaction is particularly specialized, a more hands-on, in-person experience is often the only choice. 

Imagine a business owner with multiple locations that needs multiple permits, or a construction company that needs a building permit, plus a section of the street blocked off. Ordinarily this would require the business owner to navigate through separate workflows and complete separate transactions. But, with modern cashiering technology and a well-trained member of staff, these transactions can be combined and streamlined for a smooth, successful interaction. 

Artifact Generation Requires In-Person Payment Options

Some transactions are more unique in nature and require delivering or obtaining physical copies of documents. Contractors/builders doing work in a given municipality often submit physical copies of engineering plans or legal documents in consideration for a permit. This is not uncommon as a request for engineering departments at local municipalities and often this requires in-person delivery. The physical copy of a permit needed to perform home renovations or larger construction must be obtained in person and the physical copy often must be taped to the door of the home as proof. Requests for land plats also usually take place in person and the customer must pick up the copies in person before any construction can begin or continue. 

Innovation Should Go Full Speed Ahead without Leaving Anyone Behind 

Innovation in the payment space is still going full speed ahead. It’s an exciting time to not only extend more convenient, cutting-edge tech to the masses but also to take traditional ways of payment forward and couple that with modern technology that only enhances the benefits of those in-person experiences. Choosing vendors and tech that maintain an equitable approach to the innovation of all payment channels is essential. The consistency to offer much the same across all channels underscores the importance of equal access for all while supporting the goals to provide a consistent experience to all users.

Learn more about cashiering technology in the first installment of our webinar series, Next in Payments. Access the webinar here

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