The five important payments technology trends to watch in 2017

2017 payments tech trends
Credit: Andrew Krasovitckii /

It’s that time of year again. No matter how much I complain that silly lists of what will be big in the New Year are trivial and superficial and not really representative of a more detailed analysis of key trends … I still feel I have to annoy my colleagues at Consult Hyperion into giving me a few ideas so that I can surf the end-of-year blog wave.

As you know, I’m all about new technology at the point of sale or service, so I’m going to choose five areas where new technology will make a significant difference to retail financial services – not only payments – over the coming year.

I’m playing the same game as always here. I don’t want to give away any of the really cool stuff that our teams are working on for clients in business, NGO and government sectors right now, but I do want to make predictions that I already sort-of know will come true because we are already working with the technologies so that I can look clever! I’m sure you all understand how this works. Anyway, here goes…

RegTech. A number of the new technology projects that we have been involved with recently have come to a similar conclusion, which is that the use of new technology to reduce the cost of transactions is a struggle, but the use of the new technology to reduce the cost of regulating the transactions has a much better business case.

2017 will see the emergence of the next generation of innovation in fintech that addresses risk management and regulation for the bank. We expect that regulatory technology, also known as regtech, will emerge as a separate area of innovation…
From 2017 predictions | Business Analytics 3.0

For many of our clients, the costs of regulation are both high and out of control. If blockchain or cloud or big data or biometrics or whatever can do anything to address the spiraling costs of compliance, they will have significantly more impact on the transaction space than if they could deliver a marginal reduction in transaction costs.

Digital identity. One of the key RegTechs, if not the key RegTech, is digital identity. It has finally risen to the top of the agenda and this year it will finally change the way business works. I notice that Karen Webster has come to a similar conclusion in her piece about the major trends for next year.

More than just authenticating a consumer for a particular transaction, creating a secure digital identity will mean capturing a variety of attributes about that consumer that then can be selectively presented as needed.
From 8 Big Shifts In FI, Retail, Payments |

Indeed. What’s more, implicit in this prioritization, is the start of the identity wars as various constituencies struggle to deliver the mass-market identity solutions that we need. In some areas, it may be the government that does this, in other areas it may be the banks. But in some areas, it may be the big five: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft or Apple. Either way, there are big implications for our clients’ long-term strategies.

PSD2 (still). One of the immediate needs for digital identity infrastructure is to help with the delivery of PSD2 in Europe. Along with the Secure Customer Authentication directive, a practical identity infrastructure is an urgent requirement if the industry is going to make open banking and API access work cost effectively.

European banks and payments companies will spend much of 2017 preparing for the second phase of the EU’s Directive on Payment Services (PSD2).
From Predictions 2017: What financial services executives can expect | ZDNet

Right now, this is all a bit of a mess because the “standards” that the industry is waiting for are being delayed, and it seems to me that the timescales will be further extended in the New Year. However, it is still possible for banks to develop their strategies around the demands of PSD2 even if the details of the specific standards are not yet known.

Paying on the go. A key use of open APIs will be payments, and very likely mobile payments. Mobile payments are coming front and center as a means to authorize access to payment accounts. Not for tap-and-go NFC but for the next generation of retail, transit, utility and other payments across all channels. As everyone has been saying, payments are vanishing inside the mobile phone and whether it is ordering your Starbucks via a voice interface or jumping out of an Uber or shopping at an increasing number of websites, the transaction will complete because of the identification and authentication (I tend to label these “recognition” for short) functionality of the mobile. Since the mobile delivers both convenience and security it seems to me unstoppable in this regard.

Retailers across the board will adopt mobile payment solutions.
From Retail Trends and Predictions 2017 | 12 Retail trends and predictions to watch for

It is natural for retailers to want to manage the shopping experience in order to deliver the best possible service to their customers. As the bumper sticker says, they want to go from check-out to check-in.  One of the implications of this shift for our clients is that they will be delivering services to mobile app developers rather than end customers! Testing these mobile apps to make sure that they have the security necessary for the mass market needs specialist skills that Consult Hyperion has and that customers can rely on.

Invisible POS.  In many of the markets where we provide professional services and indeed software to the transactions value network, the day when non-cash transactions will no longer be dominated by cards is now within the strategic planning horizon.

No checkout lines. No registers. No self-checkout. No cash, credit or debit.
From How To ‘Shoplift’ Legally With Amazon

I’m not expecting the Amazon Go science fiction model to dominate world retailing any day soon, but the combination of mobile apps, instant payments and alternative payment solutions will combine to see volume shift away from the card dip, swipe or tap. Card payments (by card, by token etc) will continue to grow but as more and more of them vanish inside apps, so the nature of the card industry and the shape of the value networks will shift. And if you this is rose-tinted techno-determinist hype from engineers, have a look at what someone whose business this is think about it:

Amer Sajed, the chief executive of Barclaycard, says it will spell the steady demise of the physical plastic credit card, which his company introduced to the UK 50 years ago. “People will be able to seamlessly shop going between the web, an app or in store,” he says.

From The invisible credit card of the future – BBC News

When customers check in and then check out without plastic in their hands, the point of sale will undergo fundamental change. The competition between payment methods will be subject to new dynamics that are not yet visible or understood. Trying to introduce a new payment scheme to Tesco’s stores is one thing, but introducing a new payment scheme inside the Tesco app (with no changes to the stores, POS or any other infrastructure) is quite another. Our knowledge of both new payment methods and new POS environment help clients to make to informed decisions about their future retail environments.

What does this mean for our clients for the coming year? Given that, by and large, we work for the incumbents who currently dominate their markets, whether banks or card issuers or acquirers or retailers or government agencies, it’s all about linking these key trends together at a strategic level in order to be able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the new technologies at the tactical level, working with new players where necessary, to stay on top.

My feeling is that these strategic trends will interact to cause some pretty interesting changes in our markets across the coming year, driven above all by the absolute necessity to restore sanity to the cost-benefit calculations around compliance. It will be regulatory pressures, not technology drivers, that shape most decisions in the next few months but we understand how to make effective use of new technology in responding to those pressures so that’s all good. Here’s to another great year in the world of secure electronic transactions!

This article was first published on Tomorrow’s Transactions.

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