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EDITORIAL As the Budget fails to help, payments tech could hold the key

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This week’s budget has done very little for retailers, nor mainstream business generally. There is a push to get people back to work – largely the over 50s, many of whom don’t want to go back anyway – and some tax breaks for investment in R&D (if ever there was a time to look at how to deploy ChatGPT, Mr Hunt clearly thinks it is now).

Consumers continue to say that they are cutting back on spending and will continue to do so for the coming months. Online retail spending has also dropped again in February. So, with a dearth of help for the sector, what can retailers do to navigate the choppy economic waters in which we find ourselves?

In a market where everyone wants more-for-less, the name of the game for online sellers has to be efficiency: efficient use of all resources and tools to maximise the margin on any sales that are made. One of the key areas where there are huge efficiency gains to be made is in payments.

The more payment tools that are offered to shoppers, the theory goes, the more likely they are to buy. While this is very true, there are more subtleties to it than just choice. The need to make payments as smooth and seamless as possible – across all channels – and that requires a lot of management.

Luckily, payments are now pretty much seen as a service, a service that can be platformed, and as such are now manageable through single payment management hubs.

With new payment tools – such as instant payments, direct carrier billing payments and embedded – all starting to gain traction thanks to the roll out across Europe of the Open Banking initiative, having the tools to manage not only the vast array of well-known payment tools such as Apple and Google Pay, PayPal, credit can debit cards and so on, but also to integrate these up-and-coming offerings is now paramount. 

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