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The 19 payments trends expected to make it big in 2019

Late last year, I compiled the payments trends which emanated from the SIBOS 2018 conference and which were shared across the Twittersphere by industry experts and colleagues alike. With the Christmas holidays, and 2018 for that matter, now something of a distant memory, below I reveal the 19 for 2019.


In an industry that loves three-letter acronyms, no three letters are seen as more strategic than A-P-I. Every RFI and RFP asks about them and every board room is discussing them. But, I think the conversation around APIs will actually focus more on another three-letter acronym: POC. The ultimate enablement tool will lead to more POCs (proof of concept) and what I hope will be an acceleration of innovation.

Real Time 

Everything needs to be real time. In the payments space, we talk a lot about the new real-time payment schemes coming online globally, but this trend is way more than just the payment moving from point A to point B in real time. It’s about the data that comes along with the payment, or, even when the payment is not moving in real time, having an ability to know where the payment is or what is next on the payment value chain. In 2019, real time will continue to shape the discussion in payment circles, however I think the discussion will actually go beyond real time to predictive.

Payment Controls 

With more functionality moving towards mobile, the logical next step is more control over the experience, including controls over payment mechanisms themselves; whether it’s who, what, where or when (and maybe most importantly how much). Payment controls have morphed from an on/off debit card discussion into how to control the total payment experience in a centralized way, no matter how or where the transaction occurs.


When it comes to this trend let’s use cyber’s alter ego of digital. The march out of the analogue payments ecosystem into the new digital environment has been covered throughout 2018, but we don’t regularly talk about the fact that the new payments ecosystem is digitally native. At ACI digital payments are near and dear to our hearts, and the full shift to the digitally-native ecosystem moves us to real-time across the board. Whether you want to say cyber or digital, the point is we have left the analogue physical world of payments we all knew and loved, and dropped in as player one in the New (Digital) Payments Ecosystem.

Open Banking

Open Banking is often seen as the dynamite charge which was laid at the foundations of the old banking ecosystem. The new value propositions and new entrants will reshape the banking landscape in the coming decade, and if I were to be writing this in 2029, I expect every single one of us would be saying how much we underestimated the power of this single trend. For 2019 however, the first signs of the power of open banking will appear and business cases will start flowing in based on value propositions that weren’t available before open banking opened the door.


There is a new imperative to be able to validate that you are who you say you are in the digital payments ecosystem. It’s of little surprise that following the conclusion of Money20/20, the floor was covered with identity-related solutions. A colleague has a saying I borrow regularly, that the trends in our industry are dropping a letter each year; in 2016, the trend of the year was API; in 2017, the trend was AI; in 2018, it was I… he may have been onto something!


He who owns the data will own the new payments ecosystem. Data is where all value will come from; it’s the primary fuel that will drive all other value propositions, especially as the race to zero in payments continues. There are some crazy stats out there on the amount of data we are creating as a human society and that trend will only continue as the Internet of Things and connected cities come online.


Without trust, many of the already mentioned trends won’t amount to anything. Trust is the ultimate customer-centricity measure; without it you can’t have loyalty, and without loyalty you don’t have customers – you just have folks who transacted with you.


Blockchain may have been the most overhyped technology since the Betamax but I will say this for distributed ledger technology; if we were to create a new ecosystem from scratch today without any heritage infrastructure, I truly believe we’d build it on a chain of blocks. But that’s the problem – many of the blockchain use cases try to solve problems already being worked around by using another technology. But blockchain is on a much better trajectory than Betamax, and may still have its place in the digital payment’s ecosystem, but until the perfect use case pops up, this hammer will remain searching for its nail.


It’s interesting to see that goodies once again makes it into a top trends of the new year list. Although I concede this is usually one of the things, I keep an eye out for. Looking at the booths around any event hall, the eye usually wanders from the word clouds and images to what types of goodies the companies are giving away. My personal favourites are the useful traveller items (e.g. multiplugs, battery packs etc). If I had to make a call on what the number one item, we’ll see next year is, I’ll say socks, and we can set the odds at 30x1.


I expect the question ‘how open is too open’ to feature prominently throughout 2019. If you were to take the discussion around open banking or open APIs, it has to move at some point to discussing the level of openness that an institution is looking for. Having flexibility to evolve is key, but how open should an organisation be externally? And should this be the same internally? So, you’ll be asking yourself this next year; how open is open for me?


When it comes to Fintech the discussion needs to be how you work with – and not against – the tide. Having strategies in place to work with, say, a newly introduced idea from your incubator program, or how to get your financial institution connected to or included in a tech giant’s mobile wallet, is imperative to success. Partnerships was my theme for 2018 and I don’t see that changing in 2019. If anything, I think that discussion grows in importance. The question we’ll see more of in 2019 is “do I want to be the platform, or join multiple platforms?”


Back in 2012 we talked about the disruption opportunity, knowing as we did at the time that the foundations of our ecosystem were beginning to change. That disruption is finally at a tipping point, with new Immediate Payment initiatives coming online every day. The overlaying services that are based on the older batch-based processes are nearing their expiry and will need to adapt to survive.


Standards will remain a key theme over the next 3-5 years as more and more regions introduce PSD2-like regulations. Making sure you have the flexibility to adapt to standards as they change is now an imperative.


JSON is the native tongue of the start-ups and developers we see in the market today; to get the most reach, make sure you speak JSON. Speaking the language of your audience makes sense in any situation, so this shouldn’t be any different when talking about the fintech developer communities that financial institutions need to interact with.


Being able to attract and retain talent in today’s market will prove to have a measurable impact on financial institutions’ future success. With how quickly the payments world is changing, attracting and retaining talent is more important than ever.

Machine Learning 

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence; some of my favourite conversations in 2018 were between the concentric circles of these two trends. This is where the full potential of machine to machine payments lives; where learning, adapting, and – finally – autonomous vehicles live. ACI executives have talked a few times this past year on a wonderful use case where two self-driving cars approach a parking/charge station at the same time, and a bidding war ensues on who will actually get the last spot. It illustrates the potential of machine to machine payments, but throw in some machine learning and AI and, all of a sudden, you take this conversation about these autonomous vehicles not only parking themselves, but driving for Uber and earning money, or doing deliveries for that last mile need of retail. This trend opens Pandora’s box, and I believe we’ll see plenty more in 2019.


The risk of inactivity will be front and centre in 2019. The global trends and changes that are opening up opportunities all around us will start to be capitalized on by early movers in 2019. The first value propositions from PSD2 will make their way to market and new payment types will start to flow in newly opened real time channels. Not rolling up your sleeves and playing in the new payments sandbox opens up a certain level of risk, and we’ll start to see that risk materialize in 2019.


Perhaps my favourite topic… I truly, sincerely mean that. Without it, who knows how quickly certain regions would move forward, and with it, who knows how slowly others will? Regulation can be a much-needed push or seen as an impediment. But I can tell you this about the current state of regulation; it’s putting a lot of funding and spend into the market, and from my point of view, that is a wonderful thing. I think the ripple effect we are seeing globally from PSD2 and Open Banking is only going to grow wider and stronger. Perhaps a longshot, but maybe 2019 will see the beginnings of fintech-related regulation start to sprout in the halls of power.



Comments: (1)

Sadra Boutorabi
Sadra Boutorabi - GPayments - Sydney 15 January, 2019, 01:04Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Great list Mark thanks for sharing.

I've just summarised my thoughts on the top payment authentication trends for 2019; 

Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

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