The next 18 months will bring huge changes in how customers pay for goods and services and the way businesses accept payments.
New entrants to the payments sphere, and new capabilities and technologies are leading to faster, more efficient payment processes and providing businesses with rich insights on customers and trends.
In short, innovation in the payments landscape is exponential.
Here’s my five powerful forces shaping the space and re-defining the financial services operating environment.
1 – Frictionless commerce
Thanks to new digital business models like Uber, much of the world is familiar with frictionless commerce, where payment is built into the consumption of the good or service.
So how can retailers and others embrace and navigate the frictionless trend across multiple channels and customer touchpoints?
There are major hurdles to overcome, such as numerous legacy back office systems slowing down innovation, and holding captive customer and purchasing data.
However, many businesses have already stepped up by collaborating with other providers – one example is the recent launch of the Qantas-Uber partnership that allows passengers to book a ride-share through the airline’s app.
2 – Open banking and APIs
From July 2019, open banking will allow transaction, customer-provided, and product reference data to be shared with authorised third parties via publicly exposed APIs at no cost.
Open data will extend into other sectors, such as energy and telecommunications, as they are brought under the new Consumer Data Right regime, and presents opportunities and risks for organisations in the form of disintermediation between service providers and customers.
There’s a new level of risk for consumers as well, who may not understand the nature of data they are providing to third parties, or how it might be used (or misused).
However, there are clear upsides. For one, open banking will make it simpler for people to compare financial services providers and authorise sharing of their financial data with accredited third parties such as fintechs or other banks.
3 – Real-time payments
The New Payments Platform, Australia’s data-rich, instant payments infrastructure, is now up and running 24 hours-a-day.
The NPP offers greater flexibility on the timing of payments, potentially improving cashflow and liquidity for businesses. Its initial services also provide a way for businesses to better engage with consumers via PayID, which lets them use mobile phone numbers or email addresses as identifiers and allows businesses to accept payments without collecting and keeping bank account details.
4 – Digitising supply chains
Procurement processes can be slow, manual, paper-based and inefficient. Creating purchase orders, processing an invoice, chasing payments, or identifying why orders went wrong … all involve a huge amount of often manual work.
Change is underway. With new Australian eInvoicing standards, all businesses and governments will be able to send and receive standardised, structured invoices that will reduce manual processing and provide more information to spot and solve problems when things go wrong.
5 – The global data economy
Central to all these forces is capturing and understanding data created through payment interactions – and how that data can be used to improve business intelligence and efficiency of the working capital cycle.
Two key challenges to be addressed are the accessibility of increasing volumes of data held by corporations and governments in siloed and unstructured form, and the sourcing of talent to analyse and derive insights from it.
This is an edited version of an article first published on Westpac IQ.