Driving community discussion on P27, payments professionals from across the Nordic region are gathering in Stockholm for NextGen Nordics: P27 Momentum to reflect on how this project will deliver a pan-Nordic clearing platform to settle domestic and cross-border multiple currencies.
Why has the Nordic banking industry joined forces to make this a reality? Paula Da Silva, chairperson of the executive board, P27 highlights that this bold, pioneering initiative will power cross-border payments at a fraction of the cost, creating a new ecosystem for secure payments and transactions.
“P27 will enable exponential change, but new products are just one piece of the puzzle. The other, or main piece, I would argue, is people. People who are visionary, collaborative and see a higher meaning and connection to every day work,” da Silva explains.
On the point of collaboration, she goes on to state that she has never spoken with as many banks as she has while working with P27. “The financial industry cannot afford not to go down this road. We are creating history here.”
In this world that is demanding “real time everything” and consumption of online services are part of our daily life, da Silva says that open banking and PSD2 have opened a broad spectrum of avenues for banks and fintechs. “They have access to customer accounts and there are opportunities to leverage data to refine customer experience well beyond where we are today.”
She continues: “Small business ecosystems are becoming relevant to purchasing journeys. Corporate customers want simplicity and efficiency to support their business transformation and models. 55 countries are already looking into or have already established instant payment models.”
However, is the region a late adopter or will the Nordics attempt to leverage its heritage? Da Silva believes that the area is a “cluster for fintechs, because they have a collaborative mindset to change.”
Using examples such as Nokia and Erickson, she adds that while the region is not afraid of embracing new trends, the domestic payments structure has become fragmented – there being around eight legacy infrastructures for the same purpose across payments. In addition to this, growing costs hinders the industry from focusing on the new, and this is the foundation of the reasoning behind P27.
Harmonisation of payment schemes and products is key and in the long term, will allow customers to conduct business in a better, more efficient way. Alongside paving the way to simplify payments, P27 provides tangible benefits to all related parties and significantly improves the end user’s customer experience, while at the same time, creating a common ground.
From what emerged as a project in 2018, da Silva reveals that P27 will go live by Q1 2021. “We have reached milestones, but it’s not done yet. Implementation is ongoing, and in late September, we applied for our clearing license."
She ended her keynote speech with the iconic words from Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Next up on stage is Lars Sjögren, CEO of P27 and Liz Oakes, EVP strategy and operations excellence at Mastercard.
Focusing on the topic of instant payments, Sjögren highlights that there is a large potential to expand from this and there is a logical reason why the industry needs to do so, “by streamlining, standardising and being more competitive. Old platforms were built for a different reality; the world has changed, and the platforms also need to change. With great infrastructure as a foundation, we can unleash innovation on top of that.
Oakes adds that it is important to define “who are the end users, where do they trade and do business.” She says that Nordic banks trade all over the world, so the complexity of payments is not just a local challenge.
“Getting four countries to work together is a huge leap and we see this in Europe every day of the week. We need to really look at what you want as an end stage, because the world does not stand still. You can embrace what others have done recently, for example with Request to Pay, which is paving the way for customer centricity.”
While Sjögren believes that initiatives such as these are bold, Oakes disagrees and says that the bold move would have been to not act at all, especially in order to keep pace with new entrants that are adopting new technology and breaking down regulatory hurdles. You can’t stand still.”
Taking the example of Faster Payments in the UK, Oakes says that while no one expected the iPhone to make such an impact, it arrived, and the same effect could be made with the likes of 5G and quantum computing. “We really don’t know what is going to hit us, what people are going to be doing on their devices and where payments come in.
With such shifts, it would be impossible not to embrace change and interface with customers to give them the response they want in real time.”