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A TIME OF PAYMENT MARKET CHANGE DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY SIGNAL MARKET DECLINE

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According to Sopra Banking’s Amanda Hartshorne, a single, open, secure and innovative European market in payment services will have many positive implications for banks – but will also force many of them to adapt or reinvent in order to be sure of a place in the coming new environment

Like many other business sectors, the banking industry is undergoing far-reaching change. And just like so many other transformations, our sector’s also driven by a combination of new technologies, shifts in consumer behaviour, regulatory changes – and the need to never slack for a second when it comes to searching for process efficiencies.

A reminder on the context: by adapting the legal framework governing payments, successive European regulatory provisions (specifically, Payment Services Directives and related regulations) have, without question, had a huge impact on the business models of banks. Despite the fact that payments are critical for both direct and indirect income, banks are seeing margins cut –while the arrival on the market of new specialised entrants from non-banking backgrounds (e-commerce firms especially) is also posing a clear threat.

For example, the latter are challenging the established players in payments of mainstream banks, with a clear agenda of seizing significant market share by taking advantage of those regulatory and technological changes. And as many of these new entrants are able to draw on huge resources, plus can bring into play their expertise acquired in their core business, this is absolutely no time for complacency on the part of anyincumbents in the payment arena.

Should banks, though, give up and resign themselves to losing their current payment world ‘pole position’? Or is it, instead, actually an ideal time for banks to respond and adapt/reinvent in order to protect their place? The reality is that new European regulatory provisions, like the new Payment Services Directive (PSD2) (see http://ec.europa.eu/finance/payments/framework/index_en.htm), mean they will soon no longer have any choice – as Third Party Providers (TPP) will soon have access to bank accounts for their payment initiation services.

All in all, new developments on the payment market are disrupting established positions, plus have a clear impact on the income of banks and enlarging their competitive environment by encouraging new non-banking competitors to enter the market with different business models. But such a context is conducive to innovative initiatives and potentially multiple attractive market offerings in terms of content, price or user-friendliness, all vying to become market benchmarks.

However, the proliferation of value propositions is creating some confusion. This gives banks as much of a window of opportunity as TPPs, to be frank – and it’s a window that you should try and make use of, if you are an established player, without a doubt.

An action plan for a time of market disruption

To protect their income and create ever more added value for their customers, banks must look at devising new offerings and new services for their customers and partners by positioning themselves in a support role throughout the purchase journey.

They should also be looking to build a proposition around their own payment information services to their customers, almost certainly through collaborative, community initiatives between banks in order to create innovative payment frameworks (which they can then market to Third Party Providers, incidentally).

This will be achieved only when banks enter a new era – one of opening up their systems to external players, not just tolerating but actively tolerating ‘co-opetition’ between participants and putting in place viable business ecosystems that are end-customer-oriented. Such a living ‘environment,’ open to the outside world and constantly evolving, will enable banks to interact with the various stakeholders to create the conditions to boost agility and creativity.

Banks will also have to devise ways of cooperating with non-banking players in order to ensure equitable value sharing, plus look to make progress while learning from their experiences and piping front-line feedback with regard
to technical feasibility and customer adoption in order to maximise their chances of success.

The following aphorism sums up this new style well: “We cannot afford to wait to know the truth before committing ourselves.” However, it is never easy to break with old (proven) models. However, even when faced with all the new entrants to the payments market, banks will be able to rely on their many advantages in the area of payments: strong market share, legitimacy, expertise in the area, a high level of trust, and so on.

However, to compete more effectively, they must also learn from the methods used by the latter: understanding what drives customers and makes them happy so as to anticipate their future needs; constant adaptation to remain in step (hopefully, even one step ahead) of market expectations, stimulating creativity and innovation, developing agility and reactivity and always 100% focusing on superior customer experience.

We contend that instead of acting in isolation or in a scattershot manner in reaction to this period of dynamic payments market changes, the implementation of that co-opetition culture I just spoke about enables banks to better confront the challenges that lie ahead by:

  • completing the value chain and enhance their own value proposition
  • benefitting from the industrial experience and/or agility of a partner
  • relying on the experience of a given market, competences or specific know-how
  • achieving savings on investment and economies of scale
  • Encouraging wide adoption by consumers and merchants of their proven techniques.

psd_graphicThey must be part of genuine innovation networks, possibly composed of very diverse participants:other banks facing the same challenges with a view to building critical mass more rapidly; new hungry start-ups, contributing not only their dynamism in the innovation process but also highly relevant responses to the challenges banks face; players from other industries, too, who can bring both a fresh perspective and successful innovations in their core business. Reassuringly, both the recent and more distant past is full of examples that illustrate the benefits of co-opetition in the area of payments with other players, as well the diverse forms that it can take; examples range from the development of the bank card or services such as Sepamail or wallets such as Paylib in France, as well as Paym in the United Kingdom or the pan-European MyBank initiative.

Clearly, the agility and reactivity these new partners can contribute are key to developing creativity and accelerating time-to-market. Some banks have chosen to welcome them into their ecosystem, sometimes by financing them (acquiring a stake or providing them with resources), sometimes by integrating their offerings via white-labelling.

However you choose to do it, embrace external expertise and perspective – as open, collaborative and participatory innovation is what will make it possible to progress more quickly and cost-effectively than you might have done otherwise.

Open and collaborative is the way ahead here

We are convinced banks are equipped to meet the payment revolution challenges. They may well have to adapt their offering to find growth drivers in this world, for example by relying on digital wallets and new services, as well as inaugurating a major mind-shift change by opening up their systems to external players, fostering new styles of relationship with other participants in the payment services sector and putting in place genuine customer-focused ways of working.

We believe that banks will seize all opportunities in this market to reinvent their model and create ever more added value.

The author is Principal Business Consultant, Compliance, at Sopra Banking Software (http://www.soprabanking.com)

Business

Research exposes the £68.8 billion opportunity for UK retailers

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Research exposes the £68.8 billion opportunity for UK retailers 1
  • Modelling shows increasing the proportion of online sales by 5 percentage points would have significantly boosted retailers’ revenues during the first lockdown
  • 72% of Brits want retailers who started an online service during the pandemic to continue operating it full time

New data released today by global payments platform Adyen, outlines the economic gains that could be accessed by getting more UK retailers online.

Economic modelling conducted by Cebr for Adyen indicates that if the retail sector increased the proportion of turnover stemming from online channels by 5 percentage points, £68.8 billion would have been added to the economy during the first lockdown.

While retail turnover stemming from online sales has grown significantly during 2020 – from 19% to 28%[1], there is still considerable room for growth.

Myles Dawson, UK Managing Director of Adyen comments: “The UK retail sector is facing an incredibly tough quarter, so creating the link between physical stores and online channels is more important than ever. With the festive period approaching and many shoppers unable, or uncomfortable leaving their homes, establishing and maintaining a positive online experience is a billion-pound opportunity for retailers.”

The research[2] of 2,000 UK consumers found that 31% are less likely to shop in physical stores now because of positive experiences shopping online during the pandemic. Furthermore, 72% of these consumers want retailers who started an online service during the pandemic to continue operating it in the long term.

However, making the process of shopping online as frictionless as possible will be key to unlocking the opportunity presented by online channels. 70% of Brits say that when shopping online, the ease of use is as important as the quality of the product, and 72% won’t shop with a retailer whose website or app is difficult to navigate.

Myles Dawson concludes: “Many retailers did amazing things during the pandemic in terms of adapting and creating new experiences – it’s a testimony to their agility that 57% of Brits said their expectations of the retail sector has improved during the pandemic. The challenge now is to consistently meet these expectations going forward. With local lockdowns in place, online channels will be key to serving many consumers in the short term. However, retailers need to see the shift to unified commerce as a long-term trend. The sooner they can demonstrate agility and jump on board, the longer they’ll reap the rewards.”

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/bulletins/retailsales/august2020

2 Research conducted by Opinium Research LLP

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Want to serve your customers better? An effective online strategy is what financial institutions need 

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Want to serve your customers better? An effective online strategy is what financial institutions need  2

By Anna Willems, Marketing Director, Mention

A strong online presence matters.

Having a strong online presence, that involves social media is now a crucial part of all business strategies. Whether they are retail brands, sports teams, libraries or even restaurants, most companies are investing more and more in developing their digital brand image and online presence – financial institutions are no exception.

When it comes to market trends and innovation, financial institutions are first on the line. After all, we — people and companies — trust them to manage our money to the best of their abilities. And even more so than any other market, we demand secure, trustworthy, fast and user-friendly services.

Reaching such high expectations is not a given. To this point, banks and other financial institutions have no other choice but to have a perfect understanding of their market, their audience, and their needs. What they need to get there is a fail-proof online strategy.

Gaining a deep understanding of your market

One of the best things about using social media to learn about your audience is that people give unsolicited opinions. They speak their mind and share their thoughts candidly.

This is the key to help any business to learn about themselves. They get to analyze their audience’s challenges and aspirations without having to ask them directly or serve them time-consuming surveys and polls.

UK-based Asto, a company that is part of the Santander Group, is committed to helping small businesses have access to financial and non-financial tools. Asto was looking for something that could help them discover what their target audience was talking about and find opportunities to add to the conversation. Mention enabled Asto to keep on top of reviews and customer comments, which has helped us provide a better service for our customers.

Which platform suits your offering the best?

There’s no point choosing to create campaigns on TikTok if your customers don’t use it – you need to think about who they are and work back from there.

You do this by automating the process using a social listening tool. A social listening tool will help you to view your market as a whole and identify where the key conversations are happening — and, therefore, where you should be. What’s more, you will never miss any relevant mention of your institutions, products, services, or competitors.

Handling a crisis

Financial institutions need to watch carefully for negative press – social media is the first place people will go to if they feel they’re not getting the service they need. In theory, rogue employees or unhappy clients can post anything they like online to try and hurt your brand. And if their messages gain traction, you’ve gone from one person saying bad things, to thousands.

That’s why listening needs to be part of any crisis management plan. Now, sometimes, there are crises you cannot prevent. And those usually hit pretty hard.

Power of influencers

For an influencer marketing campaign to work for your financial institution, partnering with nano content creators may well be the best way to go. They’re ability to play a part in how they shape your brand story can make a huge difference when it comes to engagement and reason to believe in your service.

Many financial institutions are already leveraging influencer marketing. It’s an efficient strategy to: Build trust and gain credibility, reach out to new audiences and share engaging stories.

The online review conundrum

94% of consumers check online reviews before they decide to buy something or subscribe to a service. They need what we call social proof. It says that the more people say they use your service, the more it will look like a good service. In short, you need to show how happy people are using your service. But not all online reviews are positive.

Having said that, we find that financial institutions shouldn’t ignore negative reviews. Instead, embrace them as an opportunity to rebuild trust in your brand. Less delicately put, take the bull by the horns and turn them to your advantage. Always respond to relevant complaints (and as fast as possible). Take responsibility for what happened. Be helpful.

And ignore trolls.

Learn from the competition

Over the last two decades, a marketer’s daily life has greatly evolved. Most importantly, we now can measure everything we do, including the consequences of our actions on our business. Having said that, you can’t evaluate how well you’re doing without comparing against

others.

Truth is that 77% of businesses rely on listening to keep an eye on their competitors. What this means is that 4 in 5 of your direct competitors are likely watching each and every single step you take. And you should do the same.

Setting the trend

From staying up to date with the latest industry trends and innovations, to keeping an eye on the competitors’ newest services, to being the first to know of potential brand crises – tracking relevant online conversations lets marketing and communication professionals working for financial institutions to stay one step ahead in an industry that is leading change and innovation.

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Why the Boom is Long Overdue (and Here to Stay)

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Why the Boom is Long Overdue (and Here to Stay) 3

By Roger James Hamilton, CEO, Genius Group

Virtually every aspect of our lives has been taken over by tech, so why is it that our schools, that are educating the business leaders of tomorrow, are still operating in much the same format as they did 100 years ago?

The global pandemic put digital learning in the spotlight and an Edtech boom has ensued, with companies like Coursera, Quizlet and Udemy seeing unicorn style growth. And the market is not slowing down. The education technology (Edtech) boom will continue.

Resilience and Growth

Unicorns are defined by rapid growth. Traditionally, these companies are not overly concerned with early profitability, long-term sustainability or value creation as much as with putting their competitors out of business.

But something different is going on in the Edtech market. The unicorn has lost its appeal. When learning platform Quizlet achieved unicorn status this year, CEO Matthew Glotzbach was keen to play down the moniker reserved for start-ups valued at $1 billion or more, preferring to liken his company to a camel.

Unlike unicorns, camels are real, hardworking beasts. Respected for their adaptability to various climates, resilience, and abilities to survive for long periods without sustenance. These are all traits much better suited to weather the economic storms created by the pandemic.

Despite their considerable abilities to adapt to challenging conditions, the climate is looking particularly sunny for camels within the Edtech market. In fact, all creatures great and small have the potential to capitalise on unprecedented growth in this sector.

The nature of education makes it a traditionally slow-moving area, which renders it unattractive to some investors. Yet, the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent surge in remote learning this year triggered a flurry of uptake in e-learning platforms.

We’ve seen the adoption rate for new technologies be accelerated by events like this before. For example, the SARS crisis of 2003 contributed to the boom in China’s ecommerce industry, as quarantines lead consumers to shop online. Of course, this market trend did not slow down once quarantine restrictions were lifted. Ever since, global online sales have risen exponentially. The same is set to happen in the Edtech market.

Providing a Solution

As with ecommerce in 2003, the demand for Edtech in 2020 was already there. It has been there for years. For the past decade at least, there has been a notable need in recruitment for qualified talent in data science, coding and digital. Edtech can bridge the skills gap, not only within formal education but also for adult learners upskilling and reskilling for today’s digital world.

Similarly, the financial crash of 2008 had the effect of fast-tracking the rise of the gig economy, requiring millions more to learn entrepreneurial skills. The idea of a job for life is now a distant memory. The Edtech sector can deliver the tools to equip students of all ages with the skills necessary for creating their own opportunities, as well as exchanging knowledge and collaborating in a digital economy.

Rising unemployment, as well as competition for jobs and government furlough schemes has seen interest in digital learning courses for adults also soar during the past few months. Figures show that the corporate e-learning market is set to increase by as much as $3.09 billion between 2020 and 2024.

Roger James Hamilton

Roger James Hamilton

The Edtech boom kickstarted by the pandemic is just the beginning in a paradigm shift in how we view education and work.

Over the next 10 years, with the rise of artificial intelligence, automated technology, and augmented reality, traditional, manual and customer service based roles will diminish and there will be less need for a large workforce when computers and machines can do the role equally well.

The need for a truly 21st century education system that reflects the needs of the job market is long overdue. Edtech companies are offering solutions to many of these issues that have troubled the economy for the past decade or more.

A Different Animal

Enter the zebra (back to our animal analogies). These types of Edtech businesses will be the ones to watch within the sector. With zebra companies, there’s a sense of community and collaboration, rather than competition. They understand that there’s room for more than one superstar in a market. Zebras are herd animals after all. The zebra believes that competition is healthy for everyone involved—something to watch and use for motivation and growth. It closely observes consumer trends and continually strives to solve new and developing problems for those consumers.

For zebra companies, profit margin is vital because it is necessary for steady growth and sustainability. Revenues hover between $5M and $50M, it serves customers within a specific niche, requires annual growth capital of $100K to $1M, and generally has more than four streams of revenue.

Zebras are both black with white stripes and white with black stripes – they have a fluidity in their approach and are camouflaged at the same time. This creates a double bottom line: Zebras want to conduct real business, by solving a pressing problem in a sustainable way, whilst reacting to contemporary challenges. This too could be said of the Edtech industry as a whole.

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