How Card-Based Installments Are Shaking Up the E-Commerce Industry

How Card-Based Installments Are Shaking Up the E-Commerce Industry

Burgeoning financial technology is reshaping the way people all around the world, from all walks of life, make their purchases. The modern customer typically prefers to have an increased number of options from which to choose — including but certainly not limited to cash, credit, PayPal, Bitcoin, Venmo, Apple Wallet, and more.

Merchants who offer their customers a variety of these payment methods can expect a greater number of completed purchases. In fact, one poll found that 56% of online shoppers expect to be offered a variety of payment options upon checkout, and this expectation was third only to free shipping options and a guaranteed date of delivery.

The Rise and Benefits of Card-Based Installments

One trend that’s beginning to gain steam in the e-commerce industry is the rise of interest-free, card-based installment payments. Merchants that adapt installment technologies that allow their customers to make an installment agreement upon purchase with their existing Visas or MasterCards will have an edge. This permits the buyer to pay a set monthly rate for the purchase at hand, rather than adding the whole price to the customer’s existing credit card debt.

The option to sign up for installment payments empowers customers on several fronts, allowing them to stick to their budgeting goals, making their purchase more affordable, and permitting them to build a better credit history without being burdened by sky-high interest fees. On the merchant’s end, the inclusion of the interest-free installment offer works to encourage purchases and augment conversion rates.

The average e-commerce shopping cart abandonment rate is at a whopping 65%, with a puny conversion rate amounting to a little over 2%. While online users may abandon the cart for a number of reasons, such as high shipping costs, uncertainty about the item, or a sub-par user experience, providing them with the option to make installment payments immediately gives the shopper an extra incentive and mental encouragement to go through with the purchase. It would be in any merchant’s best interest to offer such incentives to enhance the online shopping experience by adapting to the user’s preferences and purchasing capabilities.

A Welcome Alternative to the Traditional Credit System

The credit card industry is riddled with high fees and interest rates, complex rewards programs, and other obstacles that can make having a credit card more of a hassle than it’s worth. It’s becoming increasingly easy to get behind on payments and fall into debt, an issue that plagues many, often with life-changing consequences.

Only six countries in the world currently offer interest-free installment payments via credit card: Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Greece, Turkey, and Israel. Even though its presence is rather small on a global scale, merchants and customers alike benefit from the installment method.

In fact, 10% of Brazilians use Crediário, which offers millions of people the ability to pay for goods and services of varying prices over 48 monthly installments. Furthermore, the trend towards this payment model increases significantly in the realm of online payments, with 80% of all e-commerce transactions made in Brazil adhering to the installment method. This figure is substantial given that Brazil boasts the fifth largest digital market in the world, and Brazilians account for 40% of all Latin American internet users. Given that Brazil also has the most mature e-commerce market in Latin America, it’s clear that other countries should take heed of their installment offerings and note the success it’s had in the region.

Moving Forward with Card Installment Payments

The payment industry is taking steps toward rolling out the installment initiative, with MasterCard testing out pilot programs across Europe over the past year. Discerning industry leaders understand that consumers are more likely to make purchases and even spend more at the point of sale if a variety of options are readily available.

E-commerce retailers (in addition to brick-and-mortar stores) would be wise to jump on the bandwagon with card-based installments, and could see a significant improvement in conversions and profits if they meet the customer on middle ground; a win-win situation is certainly possible for merchants and consumers alike.

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