AstroPay CEO: How COVID-19 has changed the payments sector

Mikael Lijtenstein, AstroPay CEO, discusses cashless being the new normal.


Human beings constantly are in the pursuit of security in all aspects of daily life where routine turns out to have remarkable importance. Those activities we perform every day in the same way give us the feeling of being safe and secure. To such an extent this happens that many times we carry these activities out unconsciously.

However, this year due to COVID-19 we had to change most of our routines and behaviours to prevent getting the virus and to keep ourselves and our families safe. In some countries these changes happened gradually and in some others they were sudden and very strict, even with compulsory lockdowns. As a consequence of that, the way we work, study, shop, clean and even the way we greet each other had to be modified. And no country in the world was an exception. Social distancing has become the new normal obliging all of us to embrace new ways of living. Flexibility and adaptability were and still are crucial capacities in the search for happiness and stability in these times we are facing.

Making a parallelism between the current situation and payments we find many similarities. There has been a shift to cashless that was occurring before the pandemic, but which has been accelerated by it. Government authorities in many countries are taking actions to encourage contactless payments. The need for digital ways of paying has put on the table the requirement for more options that meet end user demands for easy, secure and reliable payment solutions. Therefore, payment providers had to adapt quickly to the new reality, adjusting their proposals while still complying with the security and compliance procedures required by the industry.

Digital wallets provide users with a secure and rapid tool, enabling them to access contactless payments easily. This payment option is increasingly being adopted by users as it provides them with the possibility to have their balance in just one place, avoiding the inconveniences of multiple accounts and payment options. Moreover, e-wallets are considered a much safer method compared to credit and debit cards. According to some investigations a number of factors which are related to consumer perception about privacy, security and benefits hold importance when deciding whether to use this solution.

Recently we have launched One Touch, a digital wallet that contemplates these factors and offers a variety of benefits: when developing One Touch, we specially asked our team to consider user experience throughout the whole process. Thinking like the customer is a key factor to understand and engage clients. Every single feature of the product was thought from this point of view. Also, the simplicity of less is more is a value for customers who want to deposit or withdraw online in international sites.

We try to make the experience frictionless, easy, simple and fast and as natural as possible. The possibility of making transactions online without leaving the merchant site provides consumers with a feeling of security which is paramount when dealing with money.

Getting regular feedback from users is more important than ever as consumer habits have been modified by the pandemic. Knowing clients means understanding their uses and costumes as well as their culture. In 2020 we have launched a help center tool which allows us to make informed decisions and when necessary to rethink the process to meet the requirements of our clients.

Human beings have been modified by COVID-19 and we do not foresee a drawback in the near future. In fact, we consider these changes as the tip of the iceberg of a new era in which our paradigms are going to change for good. Companies that are creative and have the ability to adapt to these changes will have a world of opportunities to develop.

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