What VHS, Cheques and Chip-and-PIN can tell us about the Digital Now.

Modulr By Modulr on 15 October 2021   •   6 mins read
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >What VHS, Cheques and Chip-and-PIN can tell us about the Digital Now.</span>

Over the years, technology has changed the way we experience the world around us in ways that few could have imagined.  

Technological advancements have consistently provided us with quicker and more convenient ways of doing things. 

Just as VHS gave way to DVD, and DVDs were surpassed by streaming, there’s a certain inevitability that our collective experiences will continue to evolve. While the next best thing may be hard to foresee, one thing’s for certain. Customers will always choose the most convenient solution – the path of least resistance as it were; that even goes for the technologically sceptical among us. And they’ll choose to do more with brands and business that make their lives easier, particularly where things like payments are concerned. In a world of less cash and digital wallets, convenience and control have become the latest currency. 

Join us as we take a look at how these two factors have historically been the key drivers of changing consumer behaviour and expectation, and what this means for us, in the Digital Now.  

When the world was a more physical reality 

Just a few decades ago, the idea of making contactless, cashless purchases in an online and omnichannel world would have been difficult to fathom. Back then, our experiences were rooted in a decidedly more physical reality.  

It was a world of VCR and the VHS, or Video Home System to our younger audience. Remember that ground-breaking home entertainment format? For 30 years the VHS flourished in the mass market - that is until DVDs came along in 1997. The humble VHS, with its pesky rewind feature, was simply unable to survive, let alone compete in the very industry it invented when faced with the smaller, more accessible and infinitely more convenient Digital Video Disk. DVD technology was easier to use and more convenient as it could be viewed on various devices and [gasp] you could even skip scenes without having to ever so slowly... wind... it... on…   

But the DVD’s reign would be relatively short-lived. Since 2008, DVD sales have declined more than 86% thanks to the growing ubiquity of on-demand video services. In 2016, streaming and download services finally overtook physical formats like DVDs as the main way of consuming media in the home. 

Subscription-based streaming services such as Netflix which allow consumers to watch a seemingly limitless range of TV shows and movies on internet-connected devices, provide the instant and convenient experience of the digitally-demanding’s dreams. Finally, movie-loving viewers could access all the latest blockbusters, without actually having to go to Blockbuster, and the concept of the unreturned fine became just a dim and distant memory. 

Just as digital has transformed the way we consume media, it has also revolutionised the way we transact. 


When Cheques checked-out 

The original cashless payment, Cheques were, for many years, the customary way to pay. But nearly four centuries after they first appeared, the idea of taking a piece of paper to the bank and waiting for it to clear is simply unimaginable in today’s Instant Economy. The demise of cheques also brought the demise of the cheque guarantee card; rendering obsolete the days of having to ask someone to write their card number on the back of a cheque by way of a guarantee. 

Debit cards were introduced into the UK in 1987. In 2006, Chip and PIN technology replaced the magnetic swipe method as a quicker and more convenient way to complete a card transaction. Merchants no longer had to physically swipe a card through a machine, ask the customer to sign the receipt and compare the signature against the one on the back of the card to make sure they matched. 

For a while, Chip and PIN was to card payments what DVD was to home entertainment. But there would soon be a new contender on the payments block. Enter contactless - the Netflix of the payments world - offering consumers the ultimate convenience of simply tapping and going. 

Tapping to pay via a contactless card, payment-enabled mobile or wearable device at a contactless-enabled checkout terminal would have seemed like the stuff of a technological fantasist’s dreams just a few years ago but contactless now accounts for more than a quarter of all UK payments. 


Payments – the next customer experience battleground  

As we collectively move toward an all-digital reality, more and more customer experiences will be delivered through online channels. In this context, digital payments become of critical importance – central as they are to the user experience. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that they are the next customer experience battleground and, as recent research shows, they can make or break a relationship with a brand.  

72% of those surveyed said that outdated and inefficient payment processes can undermine their experience as a customer and the tolerance threshold is low, with 78% agreeing that there is no excuse for online brands to have outdated, inefficient payment processes.   

Payments are the ‘last hurdle’ in the online customer experience with problems here causing much frustration, with 65% of those surveyed agreeing that digital payment problems create unnecessary stress for customers. 

Optimising this experience is the next digital transformation frontier. 


The future is now, and it’s digital 

While evolution in the customer journey is inevitable, the future is now, and it’s digital. Your customers are already digitally demanding – they been Netflix'd, Amazon Primed and Uber'd and have all come to accept ultra-seamless, on-demand, real-time experiences as the norm. They live in an era of consumption-on-the-go and they’ve already tasted the good stuff.  

Brands simply can’t afford to ignore the processes that make or break the customer experience - the payments – especially when the rewards for optimising them are substantial. 77% said they are more likely to trust a brand that invests in modern, customer-friendly payments processes. And 53% said that a trusted payments experience would encourage them to use the online service provider again and reward them with their loyalty.  

Do you want to ensure your payment processes are more Netflix and less VHS?

If so, download The Digital Now research and eBook. 

This invaluable eBook will help you to navigate the landscape of the Digital Now. It’ll tell you what we know now about the digitally demanding audience, who they really are, what they really want from their payment processes and how to attract and keep them. It will also explore the very different obstacles and opportunities that the Digital Now offers to both challenger companies and more traditional, incumbent organisations. And give you the recommendations you need to please your digitally demanding customers, today.