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I recently participated in a fascinating debate as part of a panel discussing the impact of the Covid pandemic on the card payments business. I was joined by fellow professionals or, as they admitted, ‘payments nerds’: Angus Burrell from emerchantpay; Matt Grifn from Nets Group; Michel Drupsteen from ING’s Payment Centre and Paul van Alfen, from aviation payments consulting firm – Up in the Air.

Yes, we debated some of the more evident points surrounding card payments and Covid but with lockdown mentality now gripping nations across the world, we felt that the timing was right for us to start questioning where consumer’s new Covid-influenced demands are going to shape us – the payments business.

The answer was clear; Covid has changed consumer behaviour forever and the ‘uber’isation of payments’ is here to stay!

I urge you to listen to the recording but if you haven’t the time, I’d like to share a few of the more pertinent soundbites below. I’d also love to hear from you and understand if this is a shared experience? Our panel appeared to agree far more than disagree on all of the points raised but are we right with our thinking despite what the data, our gut-feeling or Angus’ Mother tells us!!

Looking forward to hearing from you.

  • The rise – and rise – of Contactless; Of course the merits of contactless are more and more to the fore but as Michel explained from the ING perspective, there will be an increasing trend to ‘decrease the use of cash without being cashless’ so no death bell for the coins in our pockets just yet.
  • The pandemic is clearly acting as an accelerator to digital payments despite the availability of new form-factors. ING is seeing rst-time users in online spending from the over 50 age-group as evidence of this boosted push to online/mobile.
  • Increasing change at the front end (“contact to contactless”…”tokenisation”..”card to mobile”) is putting increased pressure on the backend of payments. As I explained, merchants can’t take on the whole cost of new technology and coupled with the Schemes enabling partnerships, this has paved the way to ‘partnerships’ becoming the new ‘form factor’.
  • Talking of the schemes, we couldn’t resist predicting the nature of Mastercard’s and Visa’s existence in the years ahead. The panel concurred with my belief that we’ll see the schemes continue to strengthen their ‘network company’ role, connecting the issuers and acquirers albeit through new business models, maybe different platforms and certainly with new partners at their side.
  • With open banking and super apps, payments are becoming just pass-through mechanisms. A lot of sectors (such as the travel industry and hospitality) are having to innovate even further and in doing so, are challenging the current payment business model.
  • Consumer user experience (UX) is paramount. As supported by a recent ING survey, “there are only so many payment methods that consumers can handle”. As Matt from Nets explained, “payments will be an extension of the customer experience in a different sphere – a little like Uber”.

Narendra Nandal, Head Issuance

About FSS
Financial Software and Systems (FSS) is a leader in payments technology and transaction processing. The company offers a diversified portfolio of software products, hosted payment services and software solutions built over 29+ years of experience. FSS, end-to-end payments suite, powers retail delivery channels including ATM, POS, Internet and Mobile as well as critical back-end Chennai, India. FSS services leading global banks, financial institutions, processors, central regulators and governments across North America, UK/Europe, ME/Africa and APAC and has 2,500 experts on-board.
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