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Is the cost of accepting card payments really an issue for small merchants as you suggest? You can obtain plenty of mobile POS solutions (PayPal Here, iZettle, etc) for around £50 for the device and pay transaction charges of 2-2.5%. That small added cost
is probably countered by the ability to sell to customers who don't have cash with them.
I'm also unclear on the benefit of your suggested alternative / replacement. You suggest customers would still need a card in order to load their wallet for purchases. This simply sounds like any of the hundreds of closed loop mobile wallets you can use
for payment already.
You also have to consider everything that the card schemes give us...ubiquity of acceptance globally, dispute processes, scalability to handle tens of thousands of transactions per second, etc.
In my book, the areas that need to be focussed on are the speed of settlement (can take several days or more for the merchant to see their funds, transactions do not show on the customers statement immediately), and improved fraud prevention.
Hi David, thank you for your comment. Let me try to answer each point in order:
Cost: there must be some cost disadvantage to small merchants in taking card transactions. Within 10m of the door to my office there is a cafe and a barber that cannot or will not. On Tuesdays there is a market and none of the stall-holders take plastic. Under
the new scheme I have in mind all of these people would be served.
Using cards: in order to get that initial sign-up as described it would be necessary to allow people to load their account using one of their existing cards. I grant you that this is an example of continuing to use the old rails like all the myriads of others
but I do not envisage people doing that for any extended duration. They have a new bank account now and it has new features and benefits over their old one. This will quickly become their current account of choice and they will deposit funds into it as would
would into any other bank account.
Card scheme benefits: the card schemes have had many decades to build their networks and are the best we have available. That doesn't mean we should strive for something better when they aren't responding to the requirements of the market.
Focus areas: agreed, all of those issues need to be addressed and more besides. I have written at some length on the topic in previous blogs on this site. In this one I was very much concentrating on what we need to do to boost customer take-up of a new customer
wallet since this is where everything has ground to a halt previously.
I hope that clarifies some of my thinking.
As to why more small merchants won't take cards...several reasons I think. A perception that it's very expensive and complicated (used to be true, but the rise of iZettle and the like have sorted that out), a perception that cash is "free" (but you need
to source change and keep a float, you can loose cash, you have to take it to be banked, your bank probably charges you for that, etc), and then the desire to keep everything under the radar / off the books by dealing cash in hand.
Other countries (Denmark for example) have almost 100% card acceptance, and in fact merchants given the ability to refuse cash as a means of payment.
When you say "That doesn't mean we should strive for something better when they aren't responding to the requirements of the market. ", I agree, but much of what I read and head about generally is about perceived changes that people who are very familiar
with how card schemes work would like to see (e.g. the readers of pages like Finextra), or changes that merchants or other players in the payment chain would like to do to cut costs and disrupt/disintermediate the card networks.
If I think about "the man on the street", and what they would like, personally I don't hear too many people complaining about the hastle of having to carry a card with them, or the cost of making card transactions (although the need to have access to power
if relying on mobile payments is a conncern). The common threads I hear are concerns about card fraud, especially when making online transactions, and the complexity of some of the authorisation mechanisms (Secure 3D for example). These should be the areas
to focus on, if we are interested in serving the end customer.
This is very much the crux of what I have been saying David.
Replacing the card scheme networks and all the other payments networks with a single new universal payments system would provide a great deal of quantifiable value to the banks and the merchants (reduced fraud, reduced settlement and reconciliation costs, better
liquidity control, reduced fees, reduced fines, an end to the PCI council). None of this has any bearing on the customer however.
I am proposing a multi-facetted approach that will be good for all parties and it will clearly be a huge undertaking but sometimes you have to look at something and understand that it is broken and needs to be replaced, not just patched up. Part of that process
must be to design a new user experience that is desirable and will provide the very fundamental reason for customers to learn a new system when they are perfectly happy with what they have.
The new system will include instant notification of payments, a full itemised transaction receipt, real-time payments anywhere in the world addressed by phone-number or email address... and availability of use at any merchant, however small.
The same system can be used online, with username and password, to validate the transaction and manage delivery addresses.
Your alternative sounds like PayTM. It can work in underserved markets. Provided it gets humungous amount of funding and can sustain losses for several years. https://www.finextra.com/blogposting/13576/five-reasons-why-paytm-is-miles-ahead-of-its-rivals
That's a great blog, thanks Ketharaman. Yes, there are elements of that, that I would like to see replicated. The frictionless onboarding, high profile user education and viral marketing are all key elements to growth of the service.
Where this differs to PayTM is the network on which it's based. One that will allow real-time payments of any type anywhere in the world, will enforce transaction security and enhance AML compliance. Because the UX I described above is connected to a bank account
that has been enabled by this network, the hope is that it will entice customers to give up their cards.
TY for your kind words.
I saw the following statement in one of your previous comments:
"Using cards: in order to get that initial sign-up as described it would be necessary to allow people to load their account using one of their existing cards."
From this, I assumed that your product does use a card for wallet topup. If so, that's how PayTM works.
Now if you say your product will connect to a bank account, then it sounds closer to BHIM, an A2A fund transfer mobile app, that I'd referenced in my earlier blog post. (PayTM can also pull money from a linked bank account for topping up its mobile wallet
but it's not an A2A product). For whatever reason, BHIM hasn't gathered much traction nor has it killed PayTM-type mobile wallets as was widely predicted during its launch a few months ago. Just in today's newspapers, there was an article where BHIM's sponsor
has admitted lukewarm takeup and has appealed to the government to hike up the referral incentive from INR 10 to INR 25 to stimulate wider adoption of BHIM.
In any case, BHIM and your product sound like VocaLink's PayM in UK. Not sure why but I haven't heard much buzz around PayM during the past year.
13 May 2016
20 Sep 2018
This post is from a series of posts in the group:
A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.