Pay-by-link, otherwise known as ‘request to pay’, is an interwoven form of e-commerce known as contextual commerce.
Whilst pay-by-link is by no means a new method of payment; having been widely used in the hospitality industry, its use across other industries is becoming more popular and the reason for this comes with the increasing effort to improve the customer experience by reducing the friction experienced at the checkout.
With pay-by-link, payments are are facilitated via the internet but they don’t necessarily mandate the need for an online storefront from a business. To understand this, we need to explain what contextual commerce is.
Contextual commerce is a unique sales channel that utilises a push method of taking payments, as opposed to the traditional payment journey that pulls the consumer through various steps of the payment process.
Referring to an embedded payment option, contextual commerce refers to the idea of requesting payment only when and where it is most relevant.
Depending on its use case, the way in which a payment link is displayed, can still remain secondary to the customer experience; remaining truthful in acting purely as a facilitator to a customer’s wants and nothing more.
In involving the customer only when it is necessary, request to pay schemes will involve customised payment pages and unique reference codes where the consumer has to simply confirm the amount that they want to pay. The items and quantities are already allocated, and other variables such as delivery and every other potential pain point have been resolved before the customer has even arrived in the payment journey.
Details from the customer’s device will be pushed to the merchant through the payment link, and the customer will get a real-time confirmation of such after the payment is made.
Pay-by-link options where the customer has yet to register their details beforehand remain relatively frictionless. Most commonly using their device's autofill features, Apple or Google Pay; the process is quick and tokenised - ready to be used again at a later date.
Bringing commerce to people, instead of people to commerce - regardless of the context - is the key USP of pay-by-link. With the ability to increase sales and open revenue channels for merchants, pay-by-link has multiple uses in upholding the customer journey through to completion, as well across the recurring billing payment model.
Where can pay-by-link be used?
As a push method, pay-by-link defines the contextual commerce movement, with an ability to weave seamlessly into a boundless amount of applications - or contexts - as possible.
Chatbots and Messengers
Chatbots and Messengers:
To comply with PCI DSS standards, it can be difficult to approach sharing card data online, especially in a customer service situation.
Using payment links allows customer service agents or automated systems to securely comply with these standards whilst maintaining an informal rapport with their customers. Thanks to changing rules surrounding open-banking, payment links can also be used in peer-to-peer situations across messaging sites to prevent bank details being shared.
The most common form of pay-by-link is pay-by-text. Used by pay-later schemes or food delivery services; links sent via SMS will send the customer to a hosted payment page. SMS links are also commonly used across hospitality scenarios where the customer is asked to confirm their appointment or booking - whereby doing so - the merchant will be able to charge them after the fact.
The future is bright for adaptations of this scenario - as a couple make their reservation for a meal online -filling in their billing information at the same time - they go on to enjoy their meal and simply have to confirm their payment via SMS after the fact.
Or, your customer is at the hair salon; having frequented it often, their billing information is already on record. They leave the salon, only having to confirm the amount they want to pay via link.
A case study involving Impera business group
- a villa and apartment booking service - showed that bookings were 75% more effective when using payment links over keying in details manually. The bookings were additionally secured with a one-time passcode.
Working similarly to SMS, as 45% of people open ‘abandoned cart emails’, payment links are also commonly used to convert abandoned carts across e-commerce. Using the link, the customer can be taken directly to the checkout via their email; sometimes with a discount incentive to reduce a global cart abandonment rate of more than 75% across all devices. Other use cases include digital invoicing as the number of B2C invoices is set to grow to 27.7 billion by 2024.
Less obvious than our other use cases, payment links that appear in social feeds are often disguised as part of the UI; appearing as you tap on a photo in your Instagram feed; where you can then follow through to the payment stage or pay with your phone’s default payment setting. This is arguably the most recent use case of contextual commerce that arises due to the 55% of abandoned purchases that come from social media purchases alone. Customers found themselves abandoning a purchase after encountering too many steps following a jump at a social touch-point.
Payment links are commonly used within a recurring billing model to not only register an initial payment, but to then continue to authorise payments on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. Equally, with pay-later schemes such as Klarna slice-it, a payment link is commonly sent via email for the customer to pay by. Merchants can also manually reissue payment links as part of a reminder protocol to avoid arrears in sectors such as the insolvency industry.
Requiring the utmost compliance with PCI DSS standards, payment links are one of the most popular ways for customer service agents to take payments over the phone without keying them in with a virtual terminal. According to PCI SSC, the average data breach will cost £3.2 million. In removing the need for card details to be read over the phone, liability for the merchant is reduced.
Is it Safe?
Apart from reducing friction at the checkout, and providing ease as a facilitator of contextual commerce, pay-by-link is used as a PCI DSS Compliant method of taking payments, whereas data before - was likely to be compromised. Utilising Total Processing’s hosted payment pages, our pay-by-link services hold the highest level of PCI DSS compliance alongside customisable fraud tools - as afforded through our payment gateway.
Merchants have the added assurance of taking payments through pay-by-link via all traditional payment methods; with Apple Pay scheduled for Q2 - allowing you to cater to a truly omnichannel payment journey.
The promise of contextual commerce is delivered through pay-by-link because it can deliver a frictionless shopping experience. With little to no integration required, there is no interruption to the customer journey; allowing every desire to be fulfilled with payment becoming a mere detail - rather than a tax to be levied in the process.
We cannot ignore the ongoing pandemic that COVID-19 has become worldwide. Pay-by-link is notably a contactless payment method that can be utilised both online and by services that remain operational during these times.
To learn more about pay-by-link contact us today at 0330 122 6418