Online POLi payments soar during April lockdown

For Merco Ltd.

Online payments provider POLi confirmed today that anecdotes of a boom in online sales during the lockdown are correct: New Zealanders have been flocking to online businesses for food, beverages and a variety of retail goods, including stationery and technology.

POLi, an online payments service used by more than 4,000 local businesses, says during the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown online retail transactions through POLi increased in April by 450%, including 170% in technology sales and a 270% increase in stationery goods sales (compared to March 2020).

On the other hand, POLi transactions for its travel merchants – transport and airlines – all but ceased in April.

The POLi payment service is distributed in New Zealand by local company Merco Ltd., which has also seen a significant uplift in new merchants and organisations joining up and offering POLi to their customers. Around 1.3 million New Zealanders have used POLi.

Merco Director of Payments Strategy, Allister Hunter, said POLi transactions had declined by around a third at the beginning of the lockdown in early April.

“But the level of transactions has since climbed back to 90% of normal as economic activity begins to recover and online commerce is embraced by merchants and their customers unable to transact though their traditional channels,” he said.

When the COVID-19 lockdown began, Merco moved quickly to assist retailers who had not had a strong online presence previously. It reduced transaction fees for all new merchants and created a simple How-To-Use-POLi guide.

“Over the past few weeks, we have signed up hundreds of new merchants – more than three times the normal new sign up rate – and many from the food, retail and medical professions,” Mr Hunter said.

Merco has also provided payment services at no cost until the end of Level 2 restrictions or the end of 2020, whichever comes first, to community service organisations such as the SOS Business, which is providing a ‘pay now, get later’ e-voucher service to small businesses closed or semi-closed during the pandemic.

Merco Director - Sales Jeff Skidmore said, “Our no fee transaction has enabled SOS Business to pass on the saving to their customers – the struggling cafes, restaurants and small businesses across the country – meaning they get more money in their till and less goes to higher charging credit cards.

POLi has provided a special low fee transaction for many years to charities, clubs and community organisations collecting donations or membership fees.

This week Merco was delighted to extend its online payment service to The Salvation Army for its online food bank, the Food Bank Project, following donor requests for an online debit payment option.

Mr Hunter said POLi was used by many merchants and charities because the payment system was reliable, secure for customers and much cheaper than credit card payments.

The introductory rate (until the end of Level 2 Alert or 31 December 2020, whichever came first) for new merchants is a 1% fee capped at 50c per transaction, resulting in a 59% saving for merchants on a $20 transaction and a 97% saving on a $1000 transaction, based on a typical credit card fee for medium sized merchants.

POLi lets customers make near immediate payments to a merchant from their personal bank account and works seamlessly with all major banks in New Zealand. POLi can be added to existing shopping carts or used as a standalone online debit payment option. New merchants can start using POLi within 24 hours of applying to Merco.

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