by Gerard Garofolo
“There is nothing permanent except change.” - Heraclitus
It seems odd, if not outright out-of-touch to write a retrospective on 2020 and the transaction account benefit industry. I know that I’m personally looking forward to huddling together with my family to watch the movie classic, White Christmas, as a way to remember a time that felt more normal.
Right now is anything but normal.
Grocery stores resemble operating rooms with folks wearing masks and gloves. We’ve learned to use Zoom and other video platforms as replacements for in-person meetings, medical appointments and social gatherings.
We all keep asking the same question: “When will life return to normal?”
It’s likely that life will never return to what we had known and for a large part took for granted. Throughout history, events of both natural and human causes altered what, at the time, was perceived as normal.
But we managed. We adapted. We survived.
“All things are difficult before they are easy” – Thomas Fuller
So, how will the pandemic impact the transaction account benefit space?
At cbsi, we believe there is a pent up demand for travel. There is sufficient data, news articles and projections that suggest travel will return. The rules of travel may be different (some airlines may require proof of vaccination before flying: (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/13/technology/coronavirus-vaccine-apps.html) but that doesn’t mean we won’t travel again. With the return of travel, there will undoubtedly be change.
Moreover, through the use of tools like Zoom, we learned to appreciate how COVID-19 created a new way to connect. Personally, I prefer face-to-face meetings with clients, co-workers and business partners. While I found myself historically shying away from tools like MS Teams and Zoom, I will use these tools far more comfortably and effectively in the future. These technological support systems allow us to stay connected in a new and unique way. To this end, we all benefit.
“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes - Turn and face the strange changes” – David Bowie
Consider the changes to retail shopping, a marketplace we know all-to-well and support fastidiously.
Years ago, cbsi was part of a team that supported the launch of contactless payments. Today, nearly every store, from national chains to local pharmacies, accept contactless payments. The deployment of this technology allows for more efficient ways to process, organize and deliver data, ultimately allowing for advances in the benefits world such as BenefitSelectTM offered by cbsi.
But no one expected that we would use contactless payments as a preventive tool for a global pandemic. With contactless payments consumers do not need to use the keypad or use a pen to sign receipts to complete a transaction. This is, however, a positive byproduct of change.
Here’s more to consider.
Many individuals have chosen to avoid shopping malls, retail stores and the direct contact that ensues. As a result, online shopping has boomed. Online holiday shopping sales are up an unprecedented 39% from last year (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/28/online-holiday-sales-to-surge-33percent-to-189-billion-adobe.html).
The cbsi insurance protection benefit, Porch Piracy, which launched last holiday season was based on predictable increases in online shopping. Never did we expect the amount of deliveries to explode in the way they have during this pandemic. No doubt, online shopping will continue to be a major part of our daily lives, possibly in ways we have yet to imagine. To this end, cbsi will do everything we can to adjust our products and services to make sure that all consumers and their purchases are protected. We will adjust, adapt and grow.
In closing, I’d like to thank you for your continued interest in cbsi and for your ongoing support. On behalf of the entire cbsi team, we wish you peace and happiness this Holiday season and a very healthy New Year.
Gerard A. Garofolo