Not every customer wants to pay with a card, which is why it’s important for business owners to have the capacity to accept alternative payment methods from customers.
This applies whether business owners are taking in-person payments, running an ecommerce store, or both.
Keep reading to learn more about 9 alternative payment methods customers may use besides credit and debit cards when purchasing from you.
1. Digital Wallets (E-wallet)
Digital wallets, which are sometimes called e-wallets, are a way that customers can load and store cash for later use.
After a customer loads their digital wallet through a bank transfer or card, they can use the wallet online or in person.
There are plenty of brick-and-mortar stores and ecommerce stores that accept payments from digital wallets.
If you run a business and yours isn’t one of them, we strongly suggest finding ways to integrate digital wallet payments into your business structure.
The Rising Popularity of Digital Wallets
According to Statista, around half of global ecommerce payments in 2021 were made with digital and mobile wallets.
Meanwhile, credit cards only accounted for 21 percent of ecommerce payments in the same year, which should give you an idea of how overwhelmingly important digital wallets have become online.
It is estimated that by 2025, a little over half of ecommerce payments will be made with digital and mobile wallets, indicating a steady positive trend.
We don’t anticipate card use for ecommerce transactions to disappear entirely any time soon, but it’s important for businesses to expand their payment options as much as possible.
One Drawback of Digital Wallets
Despite their widespread use, one potential disadvantage of using a digital wallet is that you need to have an internet connection.
If you plan on traveling to an area that doesn’t offer readily available phone service and internet, you’ll want to have other methods available to make purchases.
How Does A Digital Wallet Work?
For those unfamiliar with digital wallets, the way they work is by storing customer card details.
Then, when a customer makes a purchase, the information is sent from the digital wallet to the point of sale device using near-field communication (NFC) technology.
QR codes and magnetic secure transmission may also be used by some devices during digital wallet transactions. Samsung Pay, for instance, uses magnetic secure transmission technology.
Popular Digital Wallets
Well-known digital wallets include:
Apple Pay is a leading digital wallet. To use it, you first have to add your card details to Apple Wallet, which acts as a digital storehouse for your payment information.
In the UK, Apple Pay’s digital wallet is quite popular, with 6 out of 10 respondents in a survey by Statista claiming to have used it inside a store or restaurant from August 2020 to August 2021.
Fast forward to 2023, and Apple Pay’s market presence remains strong.
Google Pay/Google Wallet
Google Pay/Google Wallet is a well-known digital wallet that has, unfortunately, left many customers confused due to sudden name changes and poor project management.
Much of the confusion surrounding Google Pay/Google wallet stems from the fact that they are sort of the same thing, while at the same time they are not.
We know this sounds contradictory, but here is our understanding of how Google Pay and Google Wallet currently relate and operate.
Google Pay vs. Google Wallet
Google Pay has been around since 2011. Its main function is to link your device to your card.
Google Wallet, meanwhile, was released in 2022 according to Google, although the original release date was in 2011. You can still find photos of smartphones from 2011 that show Google Wallet on screen.
The wallet’s purpose is to store your card information. At least, this was why Google Wallet was originally made.
Today, things have changed somewhat, and how Google Pay and Google Wallet are used depends on the country in which you live.
Google Pay Replaced By Google Wallet In Most Countries
As of 2023, Google Pay has “mostly” been replaced by Google Wallet in certain countries, such as the UK and Canada.
In the UK, however, users can still, by all accounts, access Google Pay on their smartphones to save their card and bank account information.
In a few other countries, namely the United States, India, and Singapore, users can still use Google Pay to send money to family and friends.
Essentially, in the UK, Google Pay now performs the function that Google Wallet once performed in other countries…sort of anyway.
Popular Digital Wallets Continued
Everyone has heard of PayPal, so we would be remiss not to mention it here.
PayPal’s virtual wallet allows customers to perform a considerable range of functions, including but not limited to:
Sending money to friends and family, paying for goods and services, and buying and selling certain cryptocurrencies.
Meta Pay (Facebook Pay)
Meta Pay allows customers to make payments on Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.
Certain online stores also accept Meta Pay.
Although different from Apple Pay and Google Pay/Google Wallet in many respects, Meta Pay isn’t to be ignored. It has already been integrated with Shopify Payments, one of the more popular payment processors, which is a positive signal for future growth.
2. Mobile Wallets
Although mobile wallets are very similar to digital wallets and perform many of the same functions, there is a difference between the two.
The term “digital wallet” encompasses any type of software that allows you to store your payment information and access it when needed on your device.
“Mobile wallets,” on the other hand, are a breed of digital wallet that you specifically use through an app on your smartphone or other mobile device.
Cross-Pollination of Mobile Wallets and Digital Wallets
There is substantial cross-pollination between digital wallets and mobile wallets.
In fact, the terms are often used interchangeably, and some may disagree that there is a fundamental difference between the two.
Apple Pay, for instance, can be used on your Mac as well as your iPhone.
3. Bank Transfers
Bank transfers are a time-honored way to pay for goods and services and are still common in the UK, so much so that they may comprise 6 to 9 percent of all online transactions in the UK.
Financial IT puts the figure at 8 percent for 2017 through 2019.
While this is a somewhat older figure, it still provides a decent approximation of where we are today. At present, bank transactions may comprise around 6 percent of online transactions in the UK.
Different Ways To Make Bank Transfers
There are different ways to make bank transfers, such as calling your bank or visiting your bank and doing an in-bank transfer.
But certainly the most common and convenient methods are online bank transfers through your computer and transfers through a bank app on your smartphone.
While bank apps may be the fastest way to initiate a bank transfer, how long your bank transfer takes to process depends on the service you use, which brings us to Faster Payments.
Many people in the UK use the Faster Payments system on a regular basis, which allows customers to send money very quickly, usually within a couple of minutes, although the wait can be as long as 2 hours.
Before Faster Payments, merchants and customers had to wait around 3 days to receive payments via bank transfers.
Now nearly every bank in the UK is integrated with Faster Payments or can receive payments through their system.
Direct participants of Faster Payments include but are certainly not limited to Lloyds Bank, HSBC UK, and Barclays.
Faster Payments has a limit of £1 million per transaction, making it more than adequate for the vast majority of people in the UK.
Despite the prevalence of card and digital wallet payments, cash is still commonly used in the UK.
According to the Bank of England, 1 in 5 people in the UK consider cash to be their preferred method of payment. Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of consumers claimed to have used cash in January 2022.
Although these figures seem to indicate a strong future for cash in the United Kingdom, there is some uncertainty about how much it will be used in the coming decades.
The Future of Cash In The UK
There is an argument to be made that cash will eventually be phased out of use in most sectors. After all, its use has been declining since debit cards were introduced in the UK in 1987.
To understand just how much the use of cash has declined, consider that in 2010 more than 50 percent of payments in the UK were made with cash. Compare that to 2020, during which only 17 percent of payments in the country were made with cash (UK Finance).
5. Buy Now Pay Later
Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) payments make it easier for customers to buy products and services from merchants by providing customers with flexible payment options.
The way BNPL arrangements work is that customers pay a certain percentage of the total cost and then make subsequent payments over a certain period of time.
Some BNPL companies require their customers to pay 25 percent of the overall purchase amount to secure any given product or service. Payment terms are different for every company.
Top Buy Now Pay Later Companies In The UK
The top Buy Now Pay Later businesses in the UK include Klarna, PayPal, and LayBuy.
Klarna is especially popular, with 16 million users according to their website. LayBuy may have more than 500K users in the UK.
Is BNPL A Good Business Model?
Proponents of BNPL claim that the payment method has made online shopping better for customers by allowing them to pay for products and services without having to deal with high interest rates.
Critics of the BNPL approach argue that customers are more at risk of taking on debt, a problem
which is exacerbated by the rising cost of living.
The Bank of England states that from 1990 to 2020, the cost of 700 common items that UK families typically buy has roughly doubled.
This, of course, has put a considerable burden on low to middle-income families. It’s a trend that certainly raises concerns about the BNPL approach, although there are arguments to be made on both sides.
6. Prepaid Cards
Using a prepaid card is an often overlooked option, even though it’s a great alternative to using cash.
Many people would agree that carrying a prepaid card is more convenient than toting around a large amount of cash, especially if you are taking a trip.
But there are other reasons to use prepaid cards, such as not overdrawing your account.
Prepaid Card Fees
While prepaid cards are useful, they do come with fees, which will vary based on the card company you use and what you intend to use the prepaid card for.
Most likely, you can expect to pay an activation fee, monthly fee, transaction fee, and cash reload fee.
Not All Retailers Take Prepaid Cards
Just a heads up, not all retailers take prepaid cards.
To ensure you don’t run into issues when trying to use a prepaid card, it’s best to bring some form of backup or plan ahead about where you will be making purchases.
Today, some UK retailers accept Bitcoin, along with a handful of additional cryptocurrencies. But to use these cryptocurrencies, you have to pay in a roundabout manner.
The primary way to buy from retailers in the UK is by getting gift cards, which can be purchased from a small number of online platforms.
Once you’ve purchased the gift cards, you can then use them to purchase items at brick-and-mortar and ecommerce stores.
What companies in the United Kingdom accept and reject cryptocurrencies is still a murky field. Check out this list of companies in the UK that accept Bitcoin for some clarity on the subject.
Cheques, now somewhat antiquated, have taken on new life in the form of e-cheques.
An e-cheque functions in the same way as a paper cheque, except you use an online authorization form when writing one instead of using paper from your cheque book.
E-cheques require manual clearing just like their paper counterparts, but e-cheques tend to be faster since they are sent using the same system as bank transfers.
Why Use E-Cheques?
You might be wondering, with so many alternatives available today, why would anyone use an e-cheque?
Typically, individuals or businesses will use an e-cheque to send large amounts of money. Payments made via e-cheque are recorded in your account history and are easy to track.
9. Direct Carrier Billing
Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) is when a customer pays for goods and services online by charging their purchase amount to their monthly phone bill rather than their card or digital wallet.
The UK’s leading carriers, Three UK, EE, and O2, accept Direct Carrier Billing (DCB).
Payments made through DCB are usually made by app users, gamers, and those who want to purchase subscription services.
When paying through DCB, the process is fast. You typically just need to enter your mobile number and hit submit.
Both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store allow Direct Carrier Billing.
Pixxles is an FCA approved payment processor that places a strong emphasis on functionality, ethics, transparency, and security.
We ensure that your card acceptance services work like clockwork so that you can focus on what’s most important—running your business.
To learn more about what we can do for you, reach out to us on our Contact page.