Reflecting on progress in payments

Written by on January 20, 2016 in Billing & Payments, Guest Blog with 1 Comment

PaymentsIt is easy to find fault in company launches, but as a former payments product manager I fully understand the courage it takes to even get to the market in the face of uncertainty, and the myriad factors that stand between you and success.

So I invite you to take a few minutes to reflect with me on some of the things that went right last year. This is by no means a comprehensive list as I am aware I would need reams of E-space to cover what I see happening in each market. I am hoping you will add your thoughts, to help create a more comprehensive picture, for all to enjoy.

We’ve come a long way during 2015

  • Online payments fuelled E-commerce in such a big way over 2015 – I did most of my holiday shopping online for the first time this year, along with millions of others around the world
  • New business models have found incredible ways to leverage new ways to pay – Uber, AirBnB and others, have grown at unforeseen speed and become part of daily life
  • Fintech has grown substantially and has attracted some of our brightest talent – what a great achievement from start-ups around the world
  • Payments is disappearing and getting embedded on the one hand, but is also rising in public awareness through mainstream adverts– PayPal, Apple Pay and other ads have regularly hit the UK TV, but this is small considering the kinds of campaigns in India with Bollywood heartthrobs roped in to support emerging mobile wallets, for instance
  • Apple Pay did manage to launch in multiple markets, with an intuitive user experience and helped ignite re-interest in NFC, and investment in many more services
  • Huge strides were made in biometrics with payment by face, voice, fingerprints and more
  • Millions of people received identity and connectivity for the first time, thanks to cheaper mobiles, smart phones and data becoming available opening the door to mobile money services that can help lift themselves and their families out of poverty
  • Wearables took big strides forward, with the ability to pay using your watch hitting markets for the first time ever
  • Banks have had to wake up and smell the coffee – I’m hoping for better, cheaper and more down-to-earth, back-to-the-people banking, now we have alternatives
  • Faster payments took strides forward. Kudos to Vocalink for their work in Singapore and now the US, certainly living in the UK I daily benefit from their systems here

But there is so much more to achieve!

  • So much more needs to be done in Biometrics before it can truly become effective for mainstream use – let’s hope we see progress in standardisation as pioneering providers start to work together
  • Small value payments are the Holy Grail of payments and despite work of over a decade on this, I don’t think we are there yet – so much more scope for cheaper, faster and more secure ‘tiny’ payments
  • Cyber security is an area in which one can never do enough. With the increasingly connected systems, weakest-link analysis is critical, and end-to-end testing must be effectively managed across platforms of multiple providers
  • Opening up banking to make it more competitive is a journey that has only just begun. Can banks really be allowed to make our data available to third parties, have we been consulted about who will have access to our data?
  • It is time to revisit an age-old area of customer loyalty and how to get, gain and keep it – as the digital age introduces so much of cross-channel complexity
  • As we enjoy the huge benefits of online services, our data privacy assumes critical importance. We are leaving trails behind that if connected could have great impacts on our well-being, this again is an area of work that is still at the starting line

How will we get there?

In all the projects I’ve been a part of over the last decade, the key success factor has been top management action. Enlightened top management can wield enormous power in making things happen, while they can also be thoroughly destructive, casting asunder years of team effort in the time it takes to write a single email.

Fortunately, whether we will get there or not is no longer in the hands of large corporations. Born with mobile phones and tablet PCs as their personal toys, and brought up on a diet of computer games, social media and connectivity in a shrinking world, I see our youth taking us into bold new frontiers in terms of the way we pay in the coming years. The question is whether our regulators will also dig deep into this pool of emerging talent to keep things competitive and yet safe for us all.

Thanks for reading our blogs and do share our journey in 2016 and beyond.

Join community discussions on this topic at LinkedIn and Finextra.

This article first appeared here and is reproduced with kind permission.

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About the Author

About the Author: Charmaine Oak is the practice lead for Digital Money at Shift Thought. She has over 27 years of experience of creating and delivering solutions to market. Her skills and experience are at the intersection of mobile, banking and payments. She brings a unique perspective, having contributed to significant ventures at leading global companies: Western Union - one of the world’s largest financial brands, France Telecom/Orange – a leading mobile operator, Royal Bank of Scotland – a leading bank, LogicaCMG – the Pioneer in SMS and Wipro – one of the world's largest IT service providers. .


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  1. Michah says:

    Just to add a reminder on a topic that seemingly has gone unnoticed – Taxation. Yes, payments has always been a centre piece in this manifold of systems. However, new regulatory requirements and laws detailing international VAT laws have made payments, and specifically micro-sub-dollar payments for digital goods, quite challenging. Something that we have spent time on considerably at our little functional haven.

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