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Payments - Looking back, looking forwards


It is easy to find fault in company launches, but as a former product manager I fully understand the courage it takes to get there 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 over 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 incredible 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, smartphones 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 work with 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, more secure payments
  • Cyber security is an area in which the world can never do enough. With 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, and how?
  • 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, a 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. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on where you see payments going over 2016 and beyond. Happy New Year 2016!



Comments: (11)

Balasubramaniam Gd
Balasubramaniam Gd - DBS - singapore 05 January, 2016, 02:021 like 1 like

The real challenge it to keep up with the market and making sure we are not replicating what others have already done.  I have great hopes on the India Post to serve the biggest chunk of the unbanked segment in india where more than 60% of the branches are in places no one has set foot upon. Globally the tradeoff between the tradigital and the younger generation and the risk taking ability and the change factor should happen gradually and steadilly and not overnight.  I am also quite concerned on the databreaches, the regulators have still not starterd their inquest and Atom bank gets the first mobile bank licesence. I hope if finally finds the right pace and makes the right sense in this otherwise mad mad world.  The vast scale movement to digital is also going to make jobs redudant 15 years back call centres were not heard off , today they are almost extint in some green spaces closely dictated marked place. I would  like to be cautiously optimisic in 2016

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 05 January, 2016, 08:31Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Thanks Balasubramaniam GD, these are all very important points you raise.

Certainly Unintended consequences of these changes include large scale job redundancies - retraining should really start sooner rather than later. I was involved in the initial computerisation of banks in India and see digital as the next big change that India must embrace wholistically.

I believe the strategy piece around how India Post is managed post Payment Banks is something crucial. It must reposition itself with respect to digital or face challenges, just as in case of China Post. 

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 05 January, 2016, 14:421 like 1 like

Keen on knowing your views on whether the recent buzz around ad blockers will lead to a revival of micropayments as an alternative way for publishers are to monetize their content? I use the word "revival" intentionally because micropayments were hot towards 2009 until they cooled down in 2010, as I'd written in a blog post at the time Micropayments – Saviors or Enablers? (hyperlink removed to comply with Finextra Community Rules but this post will appear on top of Google Search results)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 05 January, 2016, 15:20Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Good point Ketharaman, I see use of mobile and desktop ad blocking software designed to remove traditional advertising grew by 41% worldwide and by 48% in the U.S. between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015. Ads do interfere with enjoyment of content. Yet hugely useful Wikipedia finds it hard to survive in the absence of both ad revenues and appropriate charging models.

However publishers must deal with new consumer expectations of free content, and the need to gain eyeballs. I rather see practical earning scenarios in combination - for instance "someone else" may pay for each consumption of content. I don't see the micropayment necessarily coming from one consumer alone, or paid to a single provider alone. Depending on whether it is a payment earned for games, royalty, music - and depending on the context, a tiny payment event should be able to occur seamlessly, with even tinier amounts distributed to a set of parties.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 06 January, 2016, 09:421 like 1 like

TY @CharmaineOak for your reply. I tend to agree with your prediction re. games, royalty and music. Do you think the same model will also work for content of the nature of news items, blog posts and magazine articles?

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 06 January, 2016, 10:241 like 1 like

Ketharaman, sure it could. I see a pot of possibly prepaid value that could be used for a range of content spanning all these categories and more, usage of which can incur trivial but differential charges to encourage heavy, loyal usage. May also include usage of software/services for instance ..

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 06 January, 2016, 10:581 like 1 like

TY @CharmaineOak. I just remembered that PayPal already has a solution for micropayments. Wonder if we'll see it more frequently on publisher websites in 2016? 

I also read on Digiday recently that Condé Nast just started using micropayments from CoinTent on its GQ magazine website.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 06 January, 2016, 11:08Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Both really interesting examples on the supply-side, thanks Ketharaman! I guess we need the right pull on the demand-side for large scale adoption, but providers would be timid to be the first and risk losing users. Just as Uber made it big, we may see someone in the digital space offer a compelling new service.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 07 January, 2016, 02:071 like 1 like

doesn't one wake up and smell the coffee, not the roses?

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 07 January, 2016, 06:22Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

My apologies Finextra member - I am great at mixing metaphors. I shall correct my post straight away as I meant that banks need a jolt to snap back to reality, and NOT that they need to take a break, having worked so hard!

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 12 May, 2016, 20:34Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Interesting article:

Charmaine Oak

Charmaine Oak


Shift Thought Ltd

Member since

13 Jun 2016



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