As payment methods evolve from cash to digital, small businesses can seamlessly integrate new methods to profit and serve customers better.

As payment technology evolves and new trends emerge, small businesses need to adapt. If not, PayPal Canada’s president, Paul Parisi, says they risk losing out on revenues and reaching tech-savvy consumers.

While every payment company has a unique approach and value proposition, Parisi says they all share the same core objective — they want to eliminate the inefficiencies in payments.

“I was hired to forge partnerships that solve real customer problems,” he says. “As leaders in the rapidly changing Canadian payments sector, we all have a responsibility to enable more small businesses to start accepting online and mobile payments.”

Parisi says two main trends are playing out in payments. First is the digitization of money — the monetary shift from cash to digital — which has been redefined by the mobile phone. The second is contextual commerce — the method of seamlessly offering up purchase opportunities when consumers are on the Internet.
“Even if you haven’t heard of contextual commerce,” Parisi says, “You’ve likely experienced it in action — Uber, Pinterest and Instagram’s Buy Buttons, and Amazon’s Alexa are all examples of the way contextual commerce is slowly changing how consumers buy.”

Parisi says it’s a solution to the “want it now” mentality of today’s consumers.

Although online payments have the benefit of reducing the sales cycle significantly and increasing customer conversion, many Canadian small businesses are not ready to take advantage. In fact, 83 percent of Canadian small businesses don’t accept any form of online payment, and only seven percent have a website capable of doing so.

Part of this is because of an age divide in Canadian small business owners that affects the adoption of these technologies. Most small business owners in Canada — 63 percent — are 55 years of age or older. Conversely, the majority who accept payments online are younger.

“Canada’s small businesses need to know how they can keep pace with payments,” Parisi says. “That way they can best serve their own customers, grow their businesses, and have the full positive impact on our economy of which they are capable.”

Canadian small businesses report concerns that keep them from taking online payments. Their chief concern is providing the same level of service to customers. Other concerns include online fraud, a limited understanding of payment technology, and distribution or delivery issues.

Parisi says that despite these concerns, taking payments online actually improves customer service.

The new reality of payments, he says, centres on meeting consumers where and where they have the most interest and intent to purchase and giving them the easiest checkout experience possible.

Parisi says that a thriving e-commerce environment in Canada can lead to greater trade, employment, and income opportunities for business owners, and that PayPal is listening to business clients to find out how to help them take advantage.

“We are constantly collaborating with our customer merchants to learn about the roadblocks they encounter in everyday business operations and showing them how we can help,” he says.

In the future, Parisi says there will be even more payment options for commercial transactions. Only a few years ago, swiping the screen on a mobile phone was a new concept, and the forms new payment methods could take are endless.

“It could include a chip-embedded finger, an Internet-enabled refrigerator or washing machine, a pair of glasses, or even a shirt button,” he says.

As PayPal forges partnerships to add more services for businesses, Parisi is excited about the potential for Canadian small business growth as payment methods continue to evolve.

“Together we can help propel Canadian businesses toward their full potential of participating in the global digital economy.”