Consumers are investing in a more sustainable future. Buying from brands that boast recycled materials, electric offerings and eco-friendly operations is an easy way for everyday people to go green. From food and fashion to transportation and housing, consumers are scrutinizing their buying habits to reduce their carbon footprint. And they expect businesses to do the same — from the products they sell to the payment options they provide.
A recent global study by Mastercard found that 62% of consumers say it’s more important than ever for businesses to behave in a sustainable way. And 54% believe reducing their carbon footprint is more important since COVID-19.
For most business owners, weaving sustainability into their organization is not a simple undertaking, and often it’s not entirely within their control. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to take some steps toward building a sustainable brand consumers are proud to buy from. Looking for eco-friendly suppliers, establishing internal processes to reduce waste or even adopting recycled packaging are all good options.
Accepting digital payments is another viable path. Offering consumers an alternative to paper and plastic payment types can be a relatively simple and powerful first step toward sustainability — something customers are beginning to expect from retailers and restaurants large and small. And you can help your clients get there.
Paper, plastic … or digital?
Traditional payment methods include paper (cash and checks) and plastic (credit and debit cards). And while these payment types are immensely popular for many reasons, they don’t have to be the only option your clients offer. Especially clients looking for ways to improve sustainability.
Paper alone accounts for 26% of total waste in landfills.
Why? Because the environmental effects of paper production and use include deforestation, large amounts of energy and water and air pollution from production, transportation and disposal.
Plastic produced from 1950-2017 accounted for 7 billion tons of waste in our landfills. And 14 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. Plastic pollution can alter natural habitats and reduce our ecosystems’ ability to adapt.
Reducing paper and plastic from the payment experience helps the planet and your clients.
On the other hand, digital payments require minimal resources to produce, and they have a lower environmental footprint when compared to traditional payment methods. Ecological benefits of digital payments include:
Reduced resource consumption
Digital payments don’t require the production of cash, coins or checks. This saves natural resources like trees, water and metals.
Cash, checks and cards require disposal once they are retired, canceled or removed from circulation, adding to landfills. Digital payments don’t.
Lower air pollution
Cash, checks and cards must be printed or manufactured, then transported to banks or consumers. Digital payments do not require manufacturing and transportation from point to point, helping reduce carbon emissions.
Ultimately, digital payments have a lower environmental footprint when compared to traditional payment methods. But nothing is perfect. Concerns about how digital payments may affect the environment exist, including:
Digital payments rely on devices like smartphones and computers, which require energy and resources to manufacture and operate.
Increased energy consumption
Using digital payments increases the demand for electricity and data centers, which can have significant carbon footprints. Fortunately, sustainable data centers exist, and leverage cloud technology to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Fortunately, 86% of the world’s population already have smartphones, offsetting some of the environmental impacts of digital payments.
Give your clients ease and choice
In addition to providing environmental benefits, digital payments equip your clients to offer the buying public the speed and convenience they expect. Here are six ways your clients — and the solutions you create for them — can remove waste from the payments process.
1. Accept digital wallets
Digital wallets are cashless, cardless and paperless — a clear environmental benefit. And they’re gaining popularity. Google Pay™, Alipay, WeChat Pay and Apple Pay® are popular wallets.
By 2025, digital wallet users will exceed 4.4 billion globally.
Digital wallet users can access their transaction history and make real-time payments from their connected devices in store or online. Besides payment information, digital wallets can store paperless concert tickets, vaccination information and more.
2. Offer payment links
Payment links use no paper, making your payment process more seamless, convenient and environmentally friendly. And they let your clients accept online payments in any channel, from anywhere — in person, online or on the go.
Empower your clients to create a payment link through an app or API. That way, they can send their customers the link through social media, email, text, chat and more. Their customers can pay online instantly.
It’s that simple. Your clients send a link and get paid.
With payment links, your clients also reduce paper and plastic from their payment process. And their customers get a quick, one-click online payment experience. It’s a win-win for everyone.
3. Embrace QR code payments
QR code payments are another popular digital, contactless payment type that offers sustainability. Generating a QR code online or through an app is easy. Once they do that, they can share or publish their QR code on digital ads, social media, their website and more. Their customers use their smartphones to scan the code to make a quick, seamless online payment.
Juniper Research predicts that QR code payments will exceed $3 trillion globally by 2025.
Your clients can also use QR codes to promote digital coupons, send invoices, provide a direct link to their website and more. And for restaurants, QR code solutions make it easy for owners to publish their menu, enable ordering and take payments — all online. No paper, no waste.
4. Offer digital billing and invoicing
If your clients invoice or bill customers — one time or recurring — digital invoicing and online payment remittance solutions would be a good fit for them. By automating and digitizing accounts receivable (AR) processes, your clients save trees and reduce waste. They also improve efficiency, accuracy and convenience.
Bonus: The average household can save 6.6 pounds of paper and 171 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions by choosing paperless billing.
5. Automate B2B payments
Your clients’ businesses can also go paperless by digitizing their B2B payments with accounts payable (AP) automation. Replacing paper and checks with digital processes and payments is environmentally friendly. And automation helps improve accuracy and efficiency, cut costs and better manage their workflow and cash flow.
6. Digitize receipts
Digital receipts are a quick and easy way to reduce your clients’ and their customers’ carbon footprint, regardless of how they pay. Customers receive their receipts instantly and can access them at any time on their smartphones or via email. Digital receipts offer a convenient, streamlined customer checkout experience, improving customer satisfaction. Choosing the right POS solution is a great way to start.
Deliver accuracy and efficiency, too
Digitizing payment processes creates a more sustainable payments experience for your clients and their customers. And it benefits their business in several other ways.
Reduce expenses: Help your clients save money on paper, printing and postage by digitizing receipts, invoices, mailers and more. And reduce labor costs by automating once-manual AP and AR processes.
Improve efficiency and accuracy: Digital payments help speed up payment processing times. And automating and digitizing processes helps reduce errors and improves workflow.
Enhance security: Digital payments use encryption and other security measures to protect sensitive financial information, helping reduce the risk of fraud and data loss.
Increase convenience: Digital payments lets your clients take customer payments from anywhere — in person, online or on the go. And they deliver a more convenient payment experience while reaching a wider audience.
A more sustainable future
Digital payments alone won’t solve our global environmental concerns. But as consumers dig deeper into the long-term effects of their spending habits, providing more sustainable payment options can help. And new green banking solutions help consumers “see” their carbon footprint in real time. This technology helps empower them to make more educated decisions about their purchases.
Your clients can meet them where they are. Ready to learn more about sustainable digital payments and how you can incorporate them into your solutions? Contact us today.
Disclaimer: All trademarks contained herein are the sole and exclusive property of their respective owners.
Apple Pay® is a trademark Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries and regions.
Google Pay™ and Google Wallet are trademarks of Google LLC.
WeChat Pay is a trademarks of Tencent & Tenpay.
Alipay is a trademarks of Alibaba Group