RBC Headquarters, St Clair.

Since the genesis of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have had to pivot and conform to the needs of today’s consumers who require experiences that are convenient, contactless, clean and physically distant.

Online purchases for essential items such as groceries and household supplies have increased.

And even when the pandemic is far behind us, it is likely that there will be long lasting changes to consumer behaviour as they continue to use electronic forms of payments such as internet banking, point of sale, mobile wallets and payment apps.

Managing director of RBC Royal Bank (T&T) Richard Downie said going cashless “enables faster, more convenient, and easier reconciliation compared to cash transactions.”

Downie said there is an increase in transparency both in terms of digital tracking and increased accountability.

“Consumers and businesses have greater security since there is less handling, storing, and exchanging of bulky banknotes. If security is breached, funds are easier to recover whereas with cash, that’s less likely,” Downie stated.

“Businesses can now be open 24/7 while having reduced administration and overhead costs due to transactions being contactless,” he stated.

Downie stated that there are a range of options that businesses can explore to transition to digital services.

“You can start by building a website or an app, then integrate contactless point of sale eCommerce services. This allows customers to easily use their debit/credit cards or do completely wireless payments,” Downie stated.

Downie said in this way as your business grows, your use of digital platforms will seamlessly follow.

“Individuals who do not have ready access to financial institutions pay more for cash services (indirect fees, travel costs) and increase vulnerability for theft and/or robbery due to the high volume of cash in hand,” Downie stated.”

He said even small businesses are not left out in this regard.

“Local entrepreneurs in the Caribbean can easily access electronic solutions that are affordable and designed with them in mind,” Downie stated.

He said an example of this is RBC EZPay 2.0 POS payment device.

Downie said this device is ideal for the on-the-go entrepreneur, who can use it to conduct safe and secure transactions via chip and pin, and contactless payments.

He said the dive accepts both debit and credit cards and is affordable.

“Entrepreneurs can also use social media platforms to accept payment—a service available now through Fygaro in association with RBC.

Downie said mature clients must not be left out in thrust for a digital transformation.

“As a financial sector, we must ensure we are focusing on solutions to meet the needs of clients as they age and invest the time to show them how digital solutions add value. Creating a user-friendly, visual step-by-step process is one way we help ease the transition to digital banking,” he stated.

Downie said cashless transactions add protection to transactions.

“Increased cash-based security concerns such as cheque fraud, cost/loss of returned/ dishonoured cheques, and time delays to access funds is helping to hasten the transition to electronic solutions for businesses,” Downie stated.

“For consumers, going cashless helps increase security in areas such as ATM fraud with security devices like improved cash slots to prevent card skimming. A digital payment platform is encrypted, more secure and faster,” he stated.

Downie said going cashless benefits both consumers, businesses and the government.

“For the consumer, going cashless offers increased convenience and service options, a reduced risk of cash related crimes and cheaper access to digital banking solutions,” Downie stated.

“For your business, it offers reduced loss of income and cash handling costs (for storing, processing and distribution of cash). It allows for faster transactions and settlement time, an increase in cash flow management and can help to capture the non-cash carrying consumer base,” he stated.

“For the government, going cashless offers increased tax collection, greater financial inclusion and increase economic development,” Downie stated.