From IoT to peer-to-peer offerings, the PPRO Group – specialists in cross-border electronic payments – have predicted key online payment trends for the year ahead. With digitisation in the world of payments progressing by leaps and bounds, the following seven developments are expected to make waves in 2018.
Internet of Payments
According to Gartner, the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to increase from 6.4 billion in 2016 to 20.8 billion in 2020. Consumers are increasingly expecting their IoT devices to enable more than just carrying out tasks automatically; they also expect them to facilitate payments. For example, consumers with connected fridges can expect to see depleated items restocked and automatically paid for. Visa is also working with Honda to develop technology that can detect when a car’s petrol is low and enables users to pay for a refill using an app that is connected to the in-car display.
Anyone heading to the checkout, whether with a real or virtual shopping basket, often takes a moment to decide whether their purchase is really worth it. Integrating payment into the context of the shopping experience and transaction can help remove this barrier to sale. It renders the POS almost invisible, while the payment process runs automatically in the background of a shopping app being used.
Wireless payments – a concept already being implemented more frequently online – will also be used in brick and mortar stores. Customers will, in the future, no longer need to reach for their cash or a credit card; instead, they can pay wirelessly in passing – whether from their smartphone via Bluetooth, using the RFID chip in their debit card, or automatically by facial or voice recognition. This will make the transaction seamless, and leave little time for consumers to rethink their purchase.
In 2018 payment processes will be increasingly integrated into peer-to-peer (P2P) systems. In India, for example, WhatsApp users can already use P2P payments to send money to friends during online chats. Apple is also implementing this feature with Apple Pay Cash. The new voice input technologies, such as Alexa, Siri and Cortana, mean that P2P payments and banking transactions can also be carried out using voice commands.
The push pay model makes real-time payments possible. Thanks to the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) scheme, the requisite European infrastructure has been in place since 21st November 2017. In Germany, it is already supported by the UniCredit Bank, the Deutsche Kredit Bank, and many savings banks. But it will probably be some time before the majority of banks are using the new system – perhaps not until participation becomes mandatory.
In 2018, however, additional German participants are expected to join the scheme as market pressure increases. It will be interesting to see the extent to which SCT Inst will open up new payment methods and how much retailers, in particular, will take advantage of the speed and reliability of real-time transfers to convert their processes to genuine real-time transactions.
Partnership between Banks and Fintechs
The technical specifications (Regulatory Technical Standards, RTS) defined by the European Commission for the new Payment Service Directive, PSD2, represent a major compromise between the interests of the established banking industry and the European FinTechs.
From the FinTech point of view, it would have been better to offer them the same as banks, and a free choice of using APIs or access via online banking. This would have resulted in good APIs being used while poor ones were ignored, creating a kind of self-regulation. At least, however, the new version is less of a threat to the European FinTech sector than the original version issued by the EBA at the end of February 2017. This is expected to result in a solid foundation which will foster increased competition and security in payment processes, which will provide both retailers and consumers with more choice and information monitoring.
Decentralisation through Blockchain Technologies
The technological basis for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will facilitate the creation of more innovative financial solutions in 2018. Institutions will use blockchain technology to establish direct connections, thus eliminating the need for intermediary or correspondence banks.
Nasdaq has already created a platform which allows private companies to issue and trade shares via blockchain. Here, the complete trading process – from execution to clearing to settlement – takes place almost in real-time, while the technology allows traceability. Blockchain can also be used by regulators as a completely transparent and accessible recording system, thus making auditing and financial reporting considerably more efficient. The number of uses for blockchain is constantly increasing and, although the technology has not yet actually achieved breakthrough status, like many radical technological shifts, it needs time to establish itself.
Commercialisation of MNO Wallets
More than two billion people globally currently do not have access to financial services. In many countries with low financial inclusion, peer-to peer-payments through mobile wallets or mobile network operator wallets (MNO wallets) are the norm. With growing popularity of e-commerce in these countries comes the commercialisation of such wallets for B2C payment methods. There is a clear shift from P2P payments to B2C payments seen in many Asian, African and Latin American countries.
UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.
Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.
“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.
“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”
Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.
He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.
“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.
Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.
“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s (Dowden’s) assertion that the governmentâ€™s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.
It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.
The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.
Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)
Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit
By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.
“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.
Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.
Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.
The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.
“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.
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.
It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.
“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.
“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”
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,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.
A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.
“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,” Swinburne said.
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.
($1 = 0.7064 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)
G20 to show united front on support for global economic recovery, cash for IMF
By Michael Nienaber and Andrea Shalal
BERLIN/WASHINGTON/ROME (Reuters) – The world’s financial leaders are expected on Friday to agree to continue supportive measures for the global economy and look to boost the International Monetary Fund’s resources so it can help poorer countries fight off the effects of the pandemic.
Finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s top 20 economies, called the G20, held a video-conference on Friday. The global response to the economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus was at top of the agenda.
In the first comments by a participating policymaker, the European Union’s economics commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said the meeting had been “good”, with consensus on the need for a common effort on global COVID vaccinations.
“Avoid premature withdrawal of supportive fiscal policy” and “progress towards agreement on digital and minimal taxation” he said in a Tweet, signalling other areas of apparent accord.
A news conference by Italy, which holds the annual G20 presidency, is scheduled for 17.15 (1615 GMT)
The meeting comes as the United States is readying $1.9 trillion in fiscal stimulus and the European Union has already put together more than 3 trillion euros ($3.63 trillion) to keep its economies going despite COVID-19 lockdowns.
But despite the large sums, problems with the global rollout of vaccines and the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus mean the future of the recovery remains uncertain.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz warned earlier on Friday that recovery was taking longer than expected and it was too early to roll back support.
“Contrary to what had been hoped for, we cannot speak of a full recovery yet. For us in the G20 talks, the central task remains to lead our countries through the severe crisis,” Scholz told reporters ahead of the virtual meeting.
“We must not scale back the support programmes too early and too quickly. That’s what I’m also going to campaign for among my G20 colleagues today,” he said.
Hopes for constructive discussions at the meeting are high among G20 countries because it is the first since Joe Biden, who vowed to rebuild cooperation in international bodies, became U.S. president.
While the IMF sees the U.S. economy returning to pre-crisis levels at the end of this year, it may take Europe until the middle of 2022 to reach that point.
The recovery is fragile elsewhere too – factory activity in China grew at the slowest pace in five months in January, hit by a wave of domestic coronavirus infections, and in Japan fourth quarter growth slowed from the previous quarter with new lockdowns clouding the outlook.
“The initially hoped-for V-shaped recovery is now increasingly looking rather more like a long U-shaped recovery. That is why the stabilization measures in almost all G20 states have to be maintained in order to continue supporting the economy,” a G20 official said.
But while the richest economies can afford to stimulate an economic recovery by borrowing more on the market, poorer ones would benefit from being able to tap credit lines from the IMF — the global lender of last resort.
To give itself more firepower, the Fund proposed last year to increase its war chest by $500 billion in the IMF’s own currency called the Special Drawing Rights (SDR), but the idea was blocked by then U.S. President Donald Trump.
Scholz said the change of administration in Washington on Jan. 20 improved the prospects for more IMF resources. He pointed to a letter sent by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to G20 colleagues on Thursday, which he described as a positive sign also for efforts to reform global tax rules.
Civil society groups, religious leaders and some Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have called for a much larger allocation of IMF resources, of $3 trillion, but sources familiar with the matter said they viewed such a large move as unlikely for now.
The G20 may also agree to extend a suspension of debt servicing for poorest countries by another six months.
($1 = 0.8254 euros)
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin, Jan Strupczewski in Brussels and Gavin Jones in Rome; Andrea Shalal and David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Susan Fenton and Crispian Balmer)
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