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FAST FOOD IS GETTING FASTER – BUT PAYMENTS NEED TO KEEP UP

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FAST FOOD IS GETTING FASTER - BUT PAYMENTS NEED TO KEEP UP

Oscar Nieboer, Chief Marketing Officer, Paysafe Group 

On and offline, technology is shaping the way in which hungry consumers make food purchases.Whether it’s ordering a takeaway on the way home from work, or paying a bill in a busy restaurant quickly without having to track down a waiter, innovative tech companies are providing consumers with an array of payment options that make the food ordering process a much more pleasant experience.

Oscar Nieboer

Oscar Nieboer

According to our data, over a tenth of British consumers (11%) order their lunch using a website or app. The increase in smartphone adoption in recent years has meant restaurants have had to evolve rapidly to meet the demands of super-connected consumers.From independents to multinational chains, a vast number of food businesses have taken note of the evolving customer trends, and capitalised on the benefits that alternative payment methods, including in-app purchases, can bring. In fact, it is predicted that mobile order-ahead will be a $38 billion industry by 2020, accounting for 10.7% of total quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry sales.

From front-of-house to front-end apps 

Restaurants are progressively becoming e-commerce businesses. For some time, we have seen Starbucks, Five Guys and other food chain restaurants accepting orders through their branded apps and websites. But for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), investing in digital ordering technology can be a costly and challenging exercise.

For SMBs wanting to get on the action, introducing mobile order-ahead capabilities with the right level of preparation and resources can go a long way. This is where GOLO, an online and mobile ordering platform designed to connect smaller merchants with local consumers, comes into play. Recently launched by FANS Entertainment, a Paysafe Group company, GOLO is a free app that allows merchants to access the online marketplace at low cost (by charging a small transaction fee per order), thus helping smaller businesses level the playing field as they compete with larger counterparts.

However, to successfully attract and retain customers, businesses need to think beyond incorporating apps that deliver a pleasant and intuitive user experience.  A key part of the customer experience is the payment process, and while it is often the last step in the transaction, it’s arguably the most important. In fact, 20% of UK consumers have cited a lack of payment options as the reason for abandoning their online shopping basket. This means that offering a range of payment methods at the checkout stage that are secure and suit the customer needs, for instance, payment methods like cryptocurrencies which are gaining momentum fast in the UK – 12% of consumers are using them –  are key for businesses to thrive in a competitive environment.

Some brands have taken inspiration from e-commerce giant Amazon and have introduced one-click ordering – all users need to do is order once, and all of their meal preferences and payment details are saved for next time. Domino’s Pizza even took this idea one step further with its ‘zero click’ ordering: users simply need to open the app and if the order isn’t cancelled within ten seconds, pizza will be on its way. Gartner has predicted that by 2021, brands will be redesigning their offerings to support visual and voice search to meet customer demand, and the pizza chain is taking advantage of this growing trend and its early adopters by launching voice ordering with Amazon Echo.

More recently, Subway has introduced a way for customers to order and pay via a chatbot in Facebook Messenger. Although still in its infancy, it already supports group chat, making it easy to split the bill between friends.Future updates are expected to include a functionality that allows orders to be placed with a single emoji.

On the other side of the coin, app fatigue can be a huge barrier to reap revenue. Offering users an incentive to download the app to begin with, and then utilising the app to send push notifications with promotions is a simple, yet effective way to combat this. Starbucks has a loyalty programme that lets its customers order and pay straight from its app to cut queuing time, as well as rewarding them with freebies once a set number of purchases have been made.

In addition to loyalty programmes, apps can present an opportunity to upsell and cross-sell on every order – just as you might be asked if you want to ‘go large’ when ordering at a counter face-to-face, prompts can be built into apps that encourage users to spend more – whether it’s to get a voucher to receive a discount on their next order, or a freebie if they spend over a certain amount, these little touches increase the average basket value whilst also making the customer more likely to return.

As more and more food businesses experiment with unique ordering innovations to engage and retain customers, it is important to remember that getting the basics right is equally vital. In order to succeed, mobile apps should be developed with payment and transaction functionality at their core, rather than being an inefficient bolt-on or afterthought.

Customer payment trends are always evolving, and with so many new payment options now on offer, it can be daunting for businesses to choose the right methods, but considering the cultural context and attitudes to security and authentication can be the difference between closing a successful sale, or losing out to a competitor.

Finance

Bitcoin slumps 6%, heads for worst week since March

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Bitcoin slumps 6%, heads for worst week since March 1

By Ritvik Carvalho

LONDON (Reuters) – Bitcoin fell over 6% on Friday to its lowest in two weeks as a rout in global bond markets sent yields flying and sparked a sell-off in riskier assets.

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency slumped as low as $44,451 before recovering most of its losses. It was last trading down 1.2% at $46,525, on course for a drop of almost 20% this week, which would be its heaviest weekly loss since March last year.

The sell-off echoed that in equity markets, where European stocks tumbled as much as 1.5%, with concerns over lofty valuations also hammering demand. Asian stocks fell by the most in nine months.

“When flight to safety mode is on, it is the riskier investments that get pulled first,” Denis Vinokourov of London-based cryptocurrency exchange BeQuant wrote in a note.

Bitcoin has risen about 60% from the start of the year, hitting an all-time high of $58,354 this month as mainstream companies such as Tesla Inc and Mastercard Inc embraced cryptocurrencies.

Its stunning gains in recent months have led to concerns from investment banks over sky-high valuations and calls from governments and financial regulators for tighter regulation.

(Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; additional reporting by Tom Wilson; editing by Dhara Ranasinghe, Karin Strohecker, William Maclean)

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Britain sets out blueprint to keep fintech ‘crown’ after Brexit

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Britain sets out blueprint to keep fintech 'crown' after Brexit 2

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Brexit, COVID-19 and overseas competition are challenging fintech’s future, and Britain should act to stay competitive for the sector, a government-backed review said on Friday.

Britain’s departure from the European Union has cut the sector’s access to the world’s biggest single market, making the UK less attractive for fintechs wanting to expand cross-border.

The review headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, sets out a “strategy and delivery model” that includes a new billion pound start-up fund and fast-tracking work visas for hiring the best talent globally.

“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.

Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.

“This review will make an important contribution to our plan to retain the UK’s fintech crown,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said, adding the government will respond in due course.

The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.

Britain increasingly needs to represent itself as a strong fintech scale-up destination as well as one for start-ups, it added.

The review recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.

“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.

The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).

“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.

Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.

“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” Swinburne said.

($1 = 0.7064 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Hugh Lawson and Jason Neely)

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Finance

Enhancing efficiency in international trade – the time is now

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Enhancing efficiency in international trade – the time is now 3

By Carl Wegner, CEO of Contour

Despite significant advances in digital enterprise technology in recent years, international trade remains overwhelmingly manual and fraught with inefficiency.

Financial market participants spend millions of dollars to save fractions of seconds. Central banks are rushing to offer “fast” domestic payments in under three seconds. But cross-border trade relies on payments involving more than one country and bank, with no common central bank to provide cover and currency conversion. It takes at least a day or, in most cases, two – and that’s not even the most inefficient part of cross-border trade.

These processes are lightning quick compared to trade-related finance and risk mitigation products such as Letters of Credit (LCs), which can take over a week to settle. These involve more parties, more complexity, more paper and less trust.

In global trade finance, a bank will agree to pay an overseas seller after receiving proof that the seller has met their obligations. There is no common network for the seller to provide this proof, and no global database of shipments. Sellers rely on the gold standard of banking communication: wet ink-signed paper documents. Collecting, presenting and checking these documents can take days, if not weeks, stalling payments and leaving goods sitting on the dock rather than working through the economy.

The perceived credibility of “wet ink” signatures on documents is holding the industry back even as other areas are embracing new technologies. Unfortunately, it is all the industry has and the highest common denominator of communication. Bringing trade finance into the twenty-first century will need the development of a new gold standard – a common and trusted digital infrastructure. Luckily, the technology to ease this change and inject massive efficiency gains into the industry is now available.

More than a few small tweaks

Banks, buyers, sellers, shipping companies, ports, customs, and so on; the number of parties involved in international trade and the relative lack of trust among them makes any change a significant challenge.

Even before paper documents are involved for proof of shipment, there are trust challenges in communication for trade finance. While banks have a trusted form of communication among themselves, this does not extend to corporates or other parties. These groups are left with paper communication, email and fax – hardly efficient methods of communication. The industry needs a network,  a common identity, and a way to share data securely and privately with all participants. This is the first step and can lead to significant increases in efficiency, especially if communication between participants can be synced in real-time.

Building the network

The future of global trade communication is decentralised. With today’s technologies, it is no longer feasible to have the world’s sensitive trade data sitting in one place susceptible to attack or commercial manipulation.

Every bank and corporate must own their own data and share it only with their trading partners where necessary. Decentralised technologies go further than this, allowing data to be synchronised with trading partners, enabling a new level of trust between parties through the deceptively complicated concept of ”what I see, you see”.

The practicalities of title transfer

The problem of paper and wet-ink signatures seems simple to solve once the network is in place. Remove the couriers, upload PDFs of all that paper onto the decentralised and synchronised network built to authenticate the sender, and trade is digitised. However, while this process is easy in theory, the variety of documents involved in a single transaction complicates matters – especially when it comes to the transfer of title.

The bill of lading is a key example of this – issued in triplicate on original letterhead and signed by an authorised party on behalf of the ship’s captain. They represent title to the documents and can be used as a negotiable document much like a bank cheque.

Digitising these documents has come a long way in the last few years, with specialised platforms and digital registries created and new legal standards drafted to allow electronic bills of lading (eBLs) to be used instead. But adoption still lags behind, and for their efficiency to be realised across the majority of global trade, the concept of digital documents such as eBLs needs to be married to decentralised networks for trade finance.

The security issue

For documents not related to title transfer, the long-held argument that an original signed document is more secure than a digital version is extremely outdated. With the right protocols in place, a digital document can present a more private and secure option than its physical counterpart.

Even an uploaded PDF can be a “digital document” with the right controls in place. Using a decentralised network every member will have an immutable audit log for every transaction, with the uploading party taking responsibility for the documents they introduce to the network in the same way a sender can take responsibility through their signature. These security protocols will also enhance the time it takes to manage trade documents, allowing parties to track and match items to real-time data.

Scaling

There has already been phenomenal success in combining a decentralised network with electronic bill of lading solutions. Rather than seven days, the time from presentation to payment instruction can be reduced to 24 hours. However, for any of this to be achieved at scale, we need coordinated collaboration to ensure a new global digital standard can emerge, rather than a series of disconnected digital islands.

Fortunately, the industry is well on its way. The Asian Development Bank recently reported that 85% of banks are gearing up to serve the trade finance needs of more businesses through technology, addressing concerns such as inefficiencies and KYC, showing a clear demand for more efficient processes to be established in the sector.

While removing a few hours from overseas payments is a worthwhile goal, reducing a week from trade finance processes can have an even greater impact on businesses’ working capital efficiency and accelerating growth in the wider global economy.

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