In Journey Toward Digital Adoption, the User Always Leads the WayBy Héctor Cárdenas | Fri, 08/13/2021 - 08:59
Over the past few months, we have heard, proposed and discussed new ways in which the future of payments will evolve alongside the current pandemic. Logically, technology has been at the very center of these conversations, as a key aspect that has allowed many people and businesses to navigate uncertainty as well leading to new ways of life and habits.
There is no shortage of examples of how technological developments have received widespread adoption since the sanitary emergency began. In Mexico, the number of SMEs selling online has increased by almost 97 percent. End-consumers have also turned to their phones and screens to solve day-to-day issues, pushing the overall value of e-commerce up 81 percent compared to 2019.
This is great news for the general growth of the digital economy in Mexico, which is projected to continue expanding in the next few years, reaching an estimated 70 million e-commerce users in 2025.
As we continue on the path toward digital transformation — and as more businesses and people begin implementing online strategies and technologies — we must ask ourselves what are the limits of current adoption trends and how we can avoid hitting roadblocks in the future.
While many businesses are implementing new technologies to overcome new challenges, we still need to ensure that these technologies achieve adoption.
How is adoption different from technology implementation? Well, implementing a technology means it is being used but adopting a technology means it is being applied to its fullest extent and being integrated within a system.
Ideally, technology adoption would follow the steps of innovation, early adoption, early majority and late majority. But in Mexico, as in many Latin American countries, the journey toward adoption is not linear. There are considerable differences in how people approach, use and understand technology, depending on the level of access they have had to digital tools.
If we accept as technology providers — and especially those of us in the fintech sector — that we operate in uneven markets, we arrive at the uncomfortable conclusion that one product does not fit all.
Even if this sounds like a complicated landscape, there is a simple rule that can connect innovation with adoption in these markets: the user calls the shots. Always.
The Cash Paradox in Digital Payments
Traditionally, the conversation around cash payments in the financial and fintech sectors has oscillated between two opposing takes: the first, argues that cash is king, the other argues that the future is cashless. Neither of these views recognizes that the user has real, everyday needs that could be solved today, regardless of the form of payment that is available to them.
It seems paradoxical that an offline form of payment could become the key to technological adoption. However, this is the case. Here’s why:
There are more than 40 million Mexicans without bank accounts that would be effectively excluded from the digital economy and the e-commerce dynamic if they were not able to pay in cash for online purchases. For businesses, being able to process cash payments for online sales, also means access to 100 percent of the Mexican population — a direct incentive for their potential growth.
Today, the technology that allows cash payments to become a part of the digital landscape, is also bringing people and businesses one step closer to digital adoption, and bringing those who would not have participated in the ecosystem within the boundaries of fully integrating technology into their operations or day-to-day activities.
Building Roads and Bridges
The example above describes one of the ways through which we can begin the journey toward technological adoption in the new reality but it is certainly not the only one. Earlier in this article I mentioned that we operate in uneven markets, making it necessary to build as many roads and bridges as possible between people and technology.
For that reason, in payments, it is equally important that we offer our clients the possibility to receive all forms of payment available (debit and credit cards, cash, bank transfers) and that we offer the payment technologies that adapt to varying degrees of adoption: from payment links for those who don’t yet have an online presence, to specialized solutions for those who have gone further in their adoption journey.
As we continue innovating with this in mind, and always prioritizing the user, we will include more people into the digital economy. That is the purpose: to build an economy that includes and benefits everyone.