From new forms of payments to innovative technology on the horizon, how to prepare for the future of banking

Digital forms of payments boomed in popularity during the pandemic, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. Consumers continue to expect to be able to pay for goods and services using their preferred payment method at all types of retail and business outlets. To best serve customers, owners need to keep up with the trends by incorporating the latest forms of payments into their businesses and staying alert to what’s on the horizon.

Consumer trends

COVID accelerated the steady push toward digital payment adoption for consumers and businesses. About one in five consumers made a contactless payment for the first time during the pandemic, and 57% of consumers said they will continue to use contactless payments, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).1 To accommodate those shoppers, the NRF found that 67% of retailers now accept some form of “no touch” payment.2

Concern over shopping in-person during COVID pushed many sales online. In the U.S., 62% of U.S. shoppers say they shop online more often now than before the pandemic, according to Bazaarvoice.3 Curbside pickup, which many retailers and restaurants began offering during the pandemic, is likely to remain a popular option.

In-person transactions changed, too. More consumers are choosing digital payments, such as contactless cards or digital wallet payments, over cash or check, regardless of where they shop. In fact, 28% of U.S. consumers say they wish they could pay for goods and services using their mobile phone all the time, Statista4 found.

Business trends

Merchants also embraced digital alternatives during the pandemic, as many turned to digital channels for banking.

Small businesses go digital with banking

mobile phone money movement icon

Services like mobile banking have seen an increase in small business usage5


70% in 2019 grid graphic



86% in 2020 grid graphic


More small businesses are using mobile deposit and check scanning, too6

66% in 2019 circle graphic


80% in 2020 circle graphic


Source: PaymentsJournal

They changed operations, too. Businesses quickly pivoted to expand the ways customers could shop, purchase, and make payments. Many took their businesses online and accepted orders and payments by phone. They set up socially distant practices, like curbside pickup and online purchasing with in-store pickup. A survey by McKinsey & Co.7 found that 47% of consumers want to continue to use curbside pickup and 60% want to continue using online purchasing with in-store pickup after the pandemic. As a result, merchants created new channels for driving sales.

Businesses also found ways to make their entire shopping experience contact-free. They removed shared items to help staff and customers avoid touching paper tickets. And stores implemented digital invoicing and receipts, and QR codes for payments.

And businesses turned to digital platforms to accept digital and person-to-person (P2P) payments. For example, 54% of small business owners currently use platforms, like Zelle®*, to receive money from customers and other businesses, according to C Space.8

How to prepare today

Even as we approach a post-pandemic marketplace, 75% of consumers say they’ll continue using the new shopping methods they turned to in 2020.9

Businesses may want to research new point-of-sale (POS) systems that can take payments and more. There are point-of-sale technologies that not only accept payments but also provide business management tools to help with tasks, like managing inventory, scheduling employees and marketing to customers. New POS systems also integrate across locations and provide cloud-based reporting to enable business owners to keep an eye on their business no matter where they are.

What’s on the horizon?

Changing demographics will drive changes in payment preferences, too. Millennials recently surpassed Boomers as the largest generation. As they enter their peak spending years and Gen Z reaches adulthood, businesses will need to stay flexible in adapting to the payment platforms these digital natives will prefer.

There’s no doubt new technology will expand what’s possible in payments. Business owners should also expect to see more customers wanting to pay via wearables, like smart watches. In fact, 42% of Gen Z and 39% of Millennials say they’re likely to pay using a wearable device.10

Consumers are also interested in voice-activated payments. According to Phoenix Synergistics, 54% of Gen Z and 33% of Millennials say they’re interested in voice payments, and 87% of users say having voice payment service is valuable.11

Though digital payments offer convenience, both consumers and businesses have security concerns. Technology can help boost payment security, such as biometrics that use physical or behavioral characteristics to identify an individual.

Security features go high tech

Consumers rank the following preferences when it comes to verifying their identity12

58% fingerprint scan icon 55% palm or hand scan icon 54% face scan icon 54% eye scan icon 44% voice recognition icon




palm or
hand scan







Source: Phoenix Synergistics

How to keep up

Staying current with the trends and preparing for the future can feel overwhelming. Just when you grasp and implement one new technology, it can feel like there’s another one to learn. Wells Fargo can help you adapt with the changing payments landscape. Get in touch with your Wells Fargo small-business banker or Merchant Services specialist to discuss your payment processing needs so you can meet your customers’ payment preferences.

1, 2 Shearman, J. Craig, “Coronavirus leads to more use of contactless credit cards and mobile payments despite cost and security concerns,” National Retail Federation, October 6, 2020
3 “Pandemics and presents: A look at how consumers plan to shop for the holidays in 2020,” Bazaarvoice, accessed June 11, 2021
4 “In what situations would you like to be able to pay with your smartphone (without debit/credit card or cash)?” Statista, accessed June 11, 2021
5, 6 “2020 and COVID Have Expanded Small Businesses’ Use of Banking Services,” PaymentsJournal, August 25, 2020
7 “The great consumer shift: Ten charts that show how US shopping behavior is changing,” McKinsey & Co., August 4, 2020
8 Small Business Engagement Research, C Space, March 2021
9 “Survey: US consumer sentiment during the coronavirus crisis,” McKinsey & Company, December 2020
10, 11, 12 “The Next Step in Digital Payments Among Consumers,” Phoenix Synergistics, October 2020

* Enrollment with Zelle® through Wells Fargo Online® or Wells Fargo Business Online® is required. Terms and conditions apply. U.S. checking or savings account required to use Zelle®. Transactions between enrolled users typically occur in minutes. For your protection, Zelle® should only be used for sending money to friends, family, or others you trust. Neither Wells Fargo nor Zelle® offers a protection program for authorized payments made with Zelle®. The Request feature within Zelle® is only available through Wells Fargo using a smartphone. In order to send payment requests to a U.S. mobile number, the mobile number must already be enrolled with Zelle®. To send or receive money with a small business, both parties must be enrolled with Zelle® directly through their financial institution’s online or mobile banking experience. For more information, view the Zelle® Transfer Service Addendum to the Wells Fargo Online Access Agreement. Your mobile carrier’s message and data rates may apply.

Zelle and the Zelle related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.

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