Digitization had been a buzzword even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but in reality a wide range of social groups, industries and economies failed to adopt digitization and reap its benefits. The global crisis we are witnessing, however, has transformed digitization from a trendy topic to a necessity. Digital tools of communication are keeping us connected and making it possible to work from home, while digital tools of doing commerce are keeping businesses alive and allowing us to have access to goods and services in a remote environment.
A small but critical component of doing business are payments. It is payments that make transactions possible, and in an increasingly digital world the role of electronic payments is also increasing drastically. Electronic payments have been with us for decades, in the form of account-to-account transfers and bank cards, but their importance has never been higher.
Coincidentally, the world of payments has been going through a technological revolution for the last few years, which has led to the proliferation of a variety of new payment tools both on the consumer side (tools to make payments) and the merchant side (tools to accept payments), increasing competition and driving down costs. What this essentially means is that both consumers and businesses have a large variety of solutions and service providers at their disposal to choose from.
Research confirms that the Slovenian population is ready to use electronic payments, and it is also the preferred payment method for the majority. Yet, cash still dominates Slovenia’s transactional space with a share of almost 75%. A key underlying reason is the fact that the country’s infrastructure to accept electronic payments is relatively underdeveloped compared to other EU countries, and the newest technologies have still not reached many businesses, especially in the SME segment.
With digitization becoming a necessity and the technological revolution of payments being a reality, now is the right time for the payment industry and the government to act boldly. Whether it is policies that promote and boost electronic payments, or market programs and initiatives which bring them to those who need them, the payment ecosystem of Slovenia should act now.
Public Policy Director (Austria, Hungary & Slovenia)