As the main UK payments body, Apacs forecasts payment trends, conducts market research and collates industry statistics. Publications such as
‘The way we pay: UK plastic cards 2007’, come with a £250 price tag and bring together information on how many cards we have and what we spend our money on, both in the high street and online.
If you want to buy this worthy tome you are directed to an online payment form, which requests your name, billing and mailing address, e-mail, plastic card number, expiry date and security code. There's just one slight problem; to fill in the form you have
to first print it out and then post or fax it to Apacs.
How last century is that?
The absence of an online payments option – especially given the specialist nature of the subject matter - is incongruous, but not entirely surprising. It’s part of a much larger collective failing by the banking industry to engage properly in the online
This failure to respond has opened the door to a host of new non-bank competitors, led by PayPal. And it's an ongoing process. As paper and coins are progressively squeezed out in favour of electronic transactions so the banking industry’s jealously-guarded
monopoly on the provision of payments dissipates.
The payments franchise has been a mainstay of the bank-to-customer relationship for centuries. In its absence, what’s left? Will information about payments become more important as a banking service than the provisions of the means of payment itself? And
what does this imply for the payment processing operations of individual banks?
The shift in emphasis isn’t going to happen overnight, even if the industry does continue to sleepwalk into oblivion. Nonetheless, these are big questions that all banks need to be addressing right now.