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To paylink or not to paylink? The pros and cons revealed

Businesses, increasingly concerned with the deliverability and effectiveness of their invoices, have been turning to paylinks. How do paylinks work? And are they really that effective? Read on and find out. 

 

The decline of the ‘traditional post office’ is a universal theme all over the world. If your payment collection process is primarily based on sending out traditional letters via the post, you’re probably seeing the effectiveness of your strategy declining year over year. 

 

Consumers, especially younger generations, have either adopted or have grown up with a digital-first mindset. They travel a lot, they often move from city to city in search of job opportunities and see homeownership as less of a priority when compared to their parents’ generation. 

 

Paylinks – digital payment made easy

For many people nowadays, the last thing they need is a paper envelope in the mail containing ‘important information.’ As far as they are concerned, if your message was really that important, you could have reached them in better, more immediate ways. 

 

One strategy for improving the effectiveness of invoices is to embrace the digital experience and send payment links instead. Payment links or simply paylinks for short, are personalized URLs embedded in email, SMS messages or printed in letters as scannable QR-codes. Once clicked or scanned, the links redirect the customers to a secure online environment where the payment can be made.

 

Are paylinks the ultimate solution for payment requests? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of sending out paylinks through e-mail.

 

The pros of using paylinks

 

Cost reduction

Sending out paper letters costs money, both in terms of postage and the raw materials required. By comparison, going paperless means getting similar results at only a fraction of the cost. 

 

Lower DSO

A paylink redirects the customer to a payment page for the specific invoice in question. Since all the information is pre-filled, a paylink saves the customer a lot of time. Moreover, when customers pay via paylink, businesses are instantly made aware of the payment. With digital paylinks, keeping admin up to date is a breeze.  

 

More payment methods

When a customer enters the payment page, they are presented with a wide range of payment methods. These include the local, regional and international payment methods customers know and trust. Customers may be delighted to find out that they can use a credit card or Paypal when making a payment to a local company. 

Sustainability

Sending out traditional letters isn’t very good for the environment. Most companies nowadays are aware of their ecological impact and many have even aligned themselves to some extent with the sustainable development goals put forth by the United Nations. By going digital, companies reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a greener planet.

 

Broader strategic options

Though paylinks are often used in e-mail, it’s important to realize that paylinks come in various forms. For example, a paylink can be sent via SMS or presented to the customer when they engage with a chatbot.  Another benefit is the fact that e-mail paylinks can provide businesses with the opportunity to properly register more customers – in accordance with GDPR – by driving them towards creating an online account. 

 

Wide adoption 

Paylinks are also an opportunity when it comes to reaching older demographics. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought everybody together in the online world an accelerated the process of digital adoption. Older demographics are now also creating SaaS accounts, paying their bills online and engaging with others via video calls, emails and social media platforms. 

 

The cons of using paylinks

 

Permission

Sending out digital invoices isn’t something companies can do from one day to the next. European businesses are legally bound by GDPR. This means they need to acquire a customer’s explicit permission before sending them a paylink via e-mail or SMS. Some businesses, as part of their general business practices, may have already acquired permission from some customers, but not for others. 

 

Luckily, as previously mentioned, a major benefit of paylinks is the ability to drive customers to create online accounts. In other words, the proper implementation of paylinks accelerates customer registration and helps businesses remain GDPR compliant. 

 

Trust issues

Everybody with an e-mail inbox receives SPAM or phishing emails. Some are savvy enough to tell the difference instantly, others may not know what the signs are and how to separate legitimate emails from scams. Companies need to make sure their e-mails are consistent with their brand and tone of voice. 

 

Deliverability

Sending out thousands of transactional emails as a business is not the same as sending out marketing newsletters to customers. To ensure deliverability of transactional emails, SMTP servers and IP addresses need to be whitelisted and list maintenance needs to be carried out regularly. 

 

Open rates

Inbox fatigue is a real issue. Many people receive hundreds of emails per day. It’s totally conceivable that a message could slip through the cracks and never be seen.   

 

Paylinks – a must-have tool

When it comes to paylinks, the pros outnumber, outweigh and resolve the cons. In fact, when implemented correctly, the personalized paylink is a cost-efficient and highly effective must-have tool in a company’s payment collection arsenal. 

 

From lowering costs and improving GDPR compliance to making the payment experience quicker and more customer-friendly, it’s safe to say that the benefits of implementing paylinks within a dunning strategy are clear.

 

My advice? Align yourself with a partner who can help you navigate the legal and technological hurdles your customers face. The potential pitfalls, though notable, can easily be mitigated by working on the implementation of a paylink strategy alongside experienced professionals. 

 

At Alphacomm, we’re happy to help manage risks and provide you with the means to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. If you’d like to spar about how to improve the dunning process within large organizations, reach out to us anytime. 

 

Catalin Draghici

Product Owner Paymaxx

Explained: 3D Secure 2 (3DS2)

The more you sell online, the more opportunities there are for fraudsters. Luckily, there are measures you can take to protect your customers and secure your revenue. One of these measures is 3DS2. Unfortunately, 3DS2 isn’t a one-stop-shop solution. While offering fraud protection, it also diminishes customer experience and curbs revenues.

3DS

First introduced in 2001 by EMV, 3D Secure, known by its acronym 3DS quickly became the standard anti-fraud measure in the industry. So how does 3DS work? Whenever customers initiate a purchase on the web, they are redirected to a secure page on their card provider’s website. Here, they are prompted to either enter a password or an authentication code that is sent to their mobile phone. Once the information is verified, the payment is approved and customers are redirected to the merchant’s website.

By adding a security layer to online transactions, 3D Secure made it a lot harder for fraudsters to steal, it lowered transaction costs, increased trust among online customers shifted liability away from merchants. And yet, it also had various drawbacks that only became worse in time.

For the average consumer, being redirected to a separate website and asked for a code turned out to be less straightforward than expected. This leads to abandoned carts and lost revenue. Moreover, when it was introduced in 2001, mobile commerce was non-existent.

3DS2

The follow-up to the original 3D Secure brings much-needed improvements to security and user-friendliness. To grasp these changes, we need to understand what 3DS2 is meant to accomplish. The new standard, 3DS2, has been developed in line with the regulations outlined in the European Union’s Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

PSD2 outlines the rules and regulations by which all players within the European payments industry must abide by in order to protect consumers, secure payments and foster healthy competition within the market.

One of the practical results of the Revised Payment Services Directive is the development of Secure Customer Authentication (SCA) as a European regulatory requirement. For transactions to comply with SCA, customers are required to identify themselves using multi-factor authentication. In other words, they must present two out of three of the following identifiers: Knowledge (Something they know, e.g. password/PIN), Possession (Something they own, e.g. mobile phone, token), Inherence (Something they are, e.g. biometrics, voice/facial recognition).

In other words:

3DS2, the new version of 3D Secure, is meant to be SCA compliant. Being SCA compliant has many benefits that go beyond fraud prevention. With 3DS2, issuing banks are provided with over 100 data points that help them identify users and authenticate payments.

 

Where 3DS2 falls short: adoption, compatibility & user experience

Even though 3DS2 provides many benefits, it’s not without problems. There are many credit cards, issued both within and outside the EU, that either do not have 3DS codes enabled or lack SCA compliance on mobile devices.

In many situations, 3DS2 is also an unnecessary burden on the consumer. Every consumer is required to undergo the exact same extra security checks, while every consumer and every purchase can be different.

Therefore, by protecting your revenue with these anti-fraud measures, you are also turning away potential customers in the worst way: by disappointing them at checkout.

As a merchant, you need to keep in mind that though the fraud(risk) is reduced, you’re also lowering conversion rates and limiting your overall revenue. In many cases, the loss of potential revenue is higher than the total cost of fraud and chargebacks combined.

 

Recommended reading
This article is an excerpt.
For a thorough review of 3DS2 and information on how to avoid the problems caused by 3DS2, check out the following resource:
https://www.mi-pay.com/en/blog/eliminate-payment-fraud-using-the-right-anti-fraud-tools-for-you/

Explained: Strong Customer Authentication (SCA)

Strong Customer Authentication is part of the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) that came into force in 2018. PSD2 outlines that payments are to be made more secure and that platforms need to be open for integration with third parties. SCA specifically, refers to the way in which payments are made more secure. 

By the end of 2020, online shoppers will be required to verify their identity by sharing two out of three of the following elements:

  • Something they know (password, pin, secret fact)
  • Something they own (phone, wearable, hardware token)
  • Something they are (fingerprint ID, facial ID, voice ID, retina scan)

SCA adds friction 

So what does SCA mean for business? SCA makes payments secure and gives businesses a leg up in the battle to eradicate fraud. However, SCA also adds friction to the shopping experience. For some users, learning new tricks like using biometrics at checkout can prove challenging.

SCA is not always necessary

Luckily, there are various exceptions to the rule. The following are the most common:

  • Transactions (partly) outside the EEA
  • Low transaction value
  • Low transaction risk
  • Trusted beneficiaries

The following transactions are excluded from SCA as they fall outside the scope of the regulation:

  • MOTO: Transactions completed over the telephone or via mail order.
  • MIT: Merchant initiated transactions (MIT) like recurring payments or subscriptions.

Frictionless flow and chargeback liability shift

PSD2 also includes provisions that allow merchants to minimize the blow of SCA to the consumer experience. One such provision is ‘frictionless flow.’ Frictionless flow allows SCA measures to be bypassed. In other words, eligible merchants will be able to offer their consumers a checkout experience without any added friction. Frictionless flow can only be applied to transactions that meet certain criteria; e.g. the size of the purchase in relation to the fraud rate of the merchant (acquirer).

 

For a more thorough explanation of SCA, check out the following resource:

https://www.jpmorgan.com/jpmpdf/1320747214117.pdf

Explained: Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2)

The European Union’s Revised Payments Services Directive (PSD2) has many purposes. PSD2 aims to improve the European payments industry by promoting healthy competition and increasing the participation of non-banks. The directive provides protections by facilitating the harmonization of rights and obligations of consumers and payment providers across the European Union. It also aims to empower consumers, by giving them more control over their data, and improve security for online payments.

A practical example

As of the launch of PSD2, banks are now required to provide third parties with access consumer’s banking data once the consumer has given explicit approval. Because of PSD2, fintech developers are able to create apps that directly interface with the consumer’s banking data and pull information from various bank accounts.

In other words, somebody with bank accounts at three different banks can now download a third-party app, provide the necessary permissions and thus gain never-before-seen insights into his or her financial situation through a unified dashboard.

Consumers can now also authorize payments via these third parties. PSD2 allows registered service providers to act as acquirers and deal directly with the banks on behalf of the consumer, completing transactions without the need for an intermediary.

Fintech companies are increasingly handling more banking duties on behalf of consumers. PSD2 makes sure that these third parties play by the rules and that consumers have the final say on how their banking data is managed.

Learn more about PSD2 at the following resource:
Payment services (PSD 2) – Directive (EU) 2015/2366

 

Other articles in this series:

  • Explained: SCA
  • Explained: 3DS2

New payment method: Carte Bancair

Are you active in France and do you want to offer your French customers an optimal payment experience? Then you can not do it without Carte Bancaire.

Carte Bancaire has more than 60 million cardholders

Carte Bancaire is the most used payment method in France. Before Carte Bancaire it was called Carte Bleue. The payment card is still popularly known as Carte Bleue.

Carte Bancaire is a Visa-branded debit card and is the most popular payment method in France. This is evident from the fact that Carte Bancaire has more than 60 million cardholders, which makes the payment card indispensable for an entrepreneur. This popular payment card is issued by all major French banks. Half of all payment cards are suitable for making online payments. This concerns all Carte Bancaire cards on which the “Verified by Visa” logo can be found.

Carte Bancaire is now added to our payment methods and all customers with these payment cards can pay securely online through our 130R Platform.