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NPL, credit, crypto or cash? We asked the experts about the savviest ways to shop this Christmas

With more ways than ever to purchase presents for under your tree, it pays to give some thought to the best way to hand over your money this Christmas.

Cash’s reign as king has been bumpy over recent years amid a flurry of new ways to handle everyday transactions. Decades ago, the rise of credit cards forever changed our relationship with money, as has the emergence of the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) behemoths. Throw cryptocurrencies into the mix, and there’s a payment method for every occasion.

When you’re feeling generous whilst Christmas shopping, it’s easy to overextend yourself. Remember, tempting offers of cheap credit and paying down the track always come at a cost.

Personally, I’m still a cash guy. That doesn’t mean I insist on walking up to the shop counter with a fist full of dollars. In the electronic age, it means I prefer to pay for things directly from my bank account, with my own money. 

While it’s handy to have the choice of options like credit and BNPL, I’m not a big fan of spending money you don’t have. It comes with the risk of putting yourself into unmanageable debt. 

Because I’m a cash guy, I want to instantly pay directly from my bank account when I get to an online checkout. Thankfully, using your bank account to pay electronically is becoming easier, thanks to real-time account-to-account payments. It’s a cheaper, more efficient and more secure option for e-commerce, with the added advantage of using your own money.

You can already buy plane tickets by transferring your funds directly to the airline via Poli, for example, or PayID, which we specialise in at Zepto.

The real game-changer for next Christmas in Australia will be PayTo which will enable shoppers to authorise merchants to take payment directly and securely from their bank account at check-out. Ideal for recurring payments and individual purchases, PayTo will revolutionise the e-commerce payment experience. 

Of course, there’s no one universally best way to pay.

Credit cards have their place, although they’re mostly used for convenience these days. For decades, they have done wonders for the economy in terms of the velocity of payments. But as an expensive, fraud-risky payment option, credit cards have had their day. 

There is also the option of debit cards but, behind the scenes, they’re just bank account transactions that run along expensive credit card payment rails.

Newcomer BNPL gets a bad rap in some circles, but it’s winning over shoppers because it can provide a superior customer checkout experience on individual purchases. BNPL will likely feel the squeeze of regulatory tightening in the coming year and see consolidation amongst providers. Yet, if it continues to deliver a great consumer experience, it will remain popular.

Meanwhile, it’s getting increasingly easier to use crypto for everyday transactions. Cryptocurrencies are accepted at a growing number of checkouts, and there will be a wave of new connecting products, like those offered by Zepto, which will allow merchants to take payments directly from crypto wallets. Over time, this will provide the bridge for cryptocurrencies to stabilise and become a truly transactional store of value.

With all these new payment methods, many people assume they’re not using cash anymore. But remember, we fund our BNPL accounts and pay off our credit cards with cash from our bank accounts. Likewise, we fund our crypto wallets with bank transfers. 

As people become more financially savvy and read the fine print, they become more interested in paying for things with money they already have. Once these new cash payment options become more integrated and seamless, people will flock to them as a powerful way to shop wisely for Christmas presents without breaking the bank.

Read more: Contactless payment options offer frictionless new ways to engage shoppers

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Ian Lennie

Ian Lennie

Ian Lennie is an experienced business director and co-founder of Zepto Payments (formerly Split Payments). He was introduced to his co-founders, Trevor Wistaff, Matt Cheers and Adrian Kennedy, and the idea for Split Payments was first hatched. Launching in 2018, having journeyed through numerous iterations, Split Payments emerged - a B2B payment API that automates the payment process for both sides of a transaction.

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