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Why Modern and Compliant Digital Payments are the Future of Customer Adoption

June 7, 2022
Donna Lyakhovetskiy

While fintech adoption rates were on the rise before the pandemic, COVID-19 spurred growth in the digital payments sector as consumers sought cash alternatives for retail settings. Now, cash accounts for an increasingly smaller proportion of retail sales each year (less than 20% in 2021) and nearly 90% of Americans are active users of fintech. These factors indicate the trend toward digital payment adoption is likely to continue, presenting incentives for cannabis dispensaries and delivery owners to offer these payment solutions to everyday customers.

A November 2020 poll revealed that 51% of consumers were using cash less often or not all, in part because cashless payments felt safer. Nearly two years later, health risks remain top of mind for important demographics of cannabis consumers, including medical patients, seniors and the immunocompromised. Other demographics prefer being cash-free for reasons like convenience and security.

At this point, cannabis dispensaries must have the infrastructure to offer cashless payments to acquire new customers. While regulated retailers still cannot process credit cards, some have opted to accept debit cards through a workaround known as cashless ATM payments. However, this option will likely be phased out in the near future as Visa recently warned they would start cracking down on these transactions.

When it comes to fintech payment solutions, consumers trust banks and other traditional financial services providers like Visa and Mastercard over unfamiliar operators. Aeropay’s ACH processing system addresses these issues by offering a cannabis industry-compliant platform that lets customers use their own phones to make a payment from their trusted bank. Businesses can communicate to potential consumers through targeted marketing efforts as part of their overall adoption strategy.

Understanding the source of customer hesitation can help dispensaries relieve these concerns and craft an adoption marketing strategy and onboarding process that promotes customer engagement and creates a positive user experience.  

The Senior Customer Journey Requires a Careful Onboarding Process 

Traditionally, fintech companies struggled with senior customer adoption, but recent growth in digital financial services adoption rates was driven by older users. Fintech adoption among the target audience aged 56-plus doubled between 2020 and 2021 to hit 79% and nearly 50% of consumers aged 51-64 indicated they used a mobile wallet in 2020, up from only 22% in 2019. 

This demonstrates seniors are willing to adopt digital payment solutions. When guiding senior customers through the customer onboarding process, budtenders and on-site managers should make the payment platform seem as approachable as possible in order to successfully onboard them. Allowing any customer to try the process for themselves during the onboarding experience helps build their confidence and trust, which may encourage long-term user adoption. 

To pay, customers only need to scan a QR code displayed at the register or dispensary’s e-commerce site and confirm the purchase total. The benefits of Aeropay’s digital payment platform include bank-level encryption, fraud protection and layered risk reduction strategies. Working directly with the customer’s own bank account provides a measure of trust that enhances the customer experience. Best of all, Aeropay customers can avoid common transaction or ATM fees associated with cashless ATM payments.

Rural Access and the Urban Digital Divide

Currently,  approximately 83% of U.S. adults between 50 to 64 own a smartphone, meaning most senior consumers have access to the technology needed to adopt digital products. But beyond this demographic, other members of a cannabis company’s customer base may be less willing to adopt contactless payments.

For example, rural areas sometimes lack high-speed internet infrastructure and access. Worries about digital payment security or speed can make paying by phone an intimidating part of the user journey. This type of consumer hesitation might be addressed by marketing efforts highlighting that QR code payment transactions like Aeropay’s can be completed in 30 seconds or less, with the same level of security offered by financial institutions.  

In urban areas, broadband adoption rates are also lower in communities of color and among groups that are older, less affluent and less educated. This disproportionate adoption rate is referred to as the “urban digital divide” and is a contributing factor to inequality. Internet connection is critical for innovation, employment, upward mobility and quality of life – and gaps in high-speed internet adoption serve to widen economic inequity

Bridging the urban digital divide is one aspect of urban technology, a design concept incorporating a confluence of ideas supporting equality, livability and resource management in urban spaces.  Urban tech, including fintech, is viewed as being a cornerstone of future “smart cities” designed to better meet the needs of citizens through technology. Fintech adoption is viewed by some as a key step toward equitable urban life. 

Change is an Adjustment

We are rapidly becoming a cashless society, with cash accounting for only 19% of all retail payments in 2021 – down seven percentage points from 2019. Additionally, digital payment customer adoption rates are up across all demographics, giving cannabis companies many incentives to offer industry-compliant digital payment solutions. But people fear what they don’t understand, emphasizing the importance of developing a customer acquisition strategy that walks hesitant customers through the entire onboarding process. That includes supporting customer success and long-term product adoption through a user adoption strategy that fosters trust between the customer, the technology and the business.


Donna Lyakhovetskiy

Director of Client Success
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