Interview with Emmanuel Chivot
Emmanuel Chivot is Business Analyst Manager at Worldline, within France’s Merchant Services & Terminals. He joined us in 1992.
How is the payment world impacted by digital transformation?
Today, digital transformation impacts all consumption habits. In the past, for example, we used to go to a hardware store to buy a hot water tank. Tomorrow, the store will no longer sell it to us but will rent it out. This will be a connected tank and its rental price will vary according to its usage. Similarly, when it comes to insurance, we will no longer pay a fixed monthly fee but a fee depending on the usage of our car or of our home.
We also find this digital transformation in B2B. Major manufacturers connect their vehicles, their buildings, their machines in order to offer new added value services to their clients, and to bill them recurrently.
This transformation is taking place in a context of globalization where boundaries, which are supposed to disappear, are actually quite present due to the various fiscal regulations and payment methods.
What main challenges are companies facing today regarding payments?
Companies are mainly facing legislation issues, generally linked to billing rather than to payment itself. Nevertheless, they are also facing the diversity of payment methods and of their uses. Indeed, some countries prefer to use the payment card, others prefer to use the e-wallet on their smartphone and others prefer direct debits. These different use cases, the local corresponding legislations, and also the diversity of payment methods’ schemes represent a real complexity that merchants and manufacturers have to manage.
In this context, how do we help these companies?
In order to help these companies, we relied on existing and proven assets. Indeed, Worldline has been offering payment and e-billing solutions for many years now and we have learned to adapt them to the intricacy of our clients’ use cases. For example, we are able to trigger billing to the different entities of large corporations, when they are organized by divisions, by departments, or by regions, while taking into account their international scope.
It is based on these assets that we built our WL Merchant Billing solution, to help companies simplify their billing and payment processes, and even to send payment reminders to their clients in case of overdue bills. This solution therefore covers the entire “Bill-to-Cash” process, focused on billing and payments, which is itself part of the more global “Order-to-Cash” process which covers the entire sales process, from order to payment.
Can you tell us more about this solution and discuss the advantages of “digital” payment for companies?
WL Merchant Billing’s main goal is to solve “Bill-to-Cash” matters, not only in a European context but also in a more general global one. Indeed, billing and payment processes can be very complex, but, thanks to the strength of our international footprint, our experience and our strong partners, we are able to manage this level of intricacy and thus we can offer an ad-hoc solution in the European, American and Asian continents.
Furthermore, WL Merchant Billing allows us to adapt our services depending on our clients’ preferences. Thus, we can as efficiently help clients that prefer prepaid, because they do not want to take risks and thus receive payments before delivering services, as well as those who prefer postpaid, that is to base the price of services on its consumer’s usage.
What are the advantages for consumers?
The advantages are intertwined with the evolution of consumption habits. Indeed, today, we are no longer looking for product ownership rather for the right to use it at a less expensive cost. Spotify is a good example of this evolution as it has revolutionized the music usage by allowing people to have access to a huge quantity of music, practically infinite, for a low price without owning any of it. So today, the preference goes to renting a service or a product at a price corresponding to our usage. We also find this evolution in B2B where clients are no longer willing to buy industrial equipment but prefer to rent it and pay for it according to their usage.
Consequently, the digital transformation impacts both B2B and B2C at the same time, rendering the consumption of products and services faster, easier and more personalized.
What are the regulatory constraints to respect?
Regarding billing, regulation is relatively harmonized throughout Europe, with the obligation to respect the authenticity, the integrity, the readability and the long-term conservation of bills thanks to a certain number of technological means, but this is not necessarily the same worldwide.
At an international level, generally speaking, we have to ensure the authenticity and the integrity of a bill, but some countries have hardened the rules, by imposing new controls to lower fiscal fraud. For example, some Latin American countries require that the bill issuer sends proof of products or services delivered in order to obtain a token that will give him the right to emit a bill.
Regarding payment, the arrival of SEPA in Europe enabled the harmonization and the simplification of the rules but quite a few local payment systems, with different degrees of complexity, still remain, wherever it is in Europe or elsewhere.
Other regulations, such as the US Sarbanes-Oxley law on the accounting and financial transparency reform, or the implementation of the PCI DSS security norms for the protection of debit and credit cards’ data, require the implementation of technological, as well as processes and specific and necessary controls to guarantee our solutions’ conformity.
What challenges does the economy’s “Uberization” bring?
Today, “Uberization” is synonym of new habits, of a new way to consume which is more instant and comes with a streamlined order and payment system, which results in purchase, billing and payment simplification. Thus the use of the e-wallet is favored because it can memorize payment means and can streamline the buying process. This way, we do not have to use a credit card or even tip a code thanks to more flexible, but highly secured, mechanisms, via a smartphone for example. Similarly, it has now become a necessity to streamline the billing system through digitization in order to prevent any hurdles linked to paper processing.
Thank you for your time today, Emmanuel. I will leave you with one final question: in your opinion, what will be the invention/innovation that will change our world in a century?
In my opinion, we will evolve towards a more and more connected world, but I think that it will also be more in balance with nature. I think that houses will be connected to both help its inhabitants and, at the same time, respect a certain level of ecological balance in order to lower energy, water and resources usage as well as greenhouse gas emissions. I hope that the ultra-connectivity will allow us to build a world that will listen to both mankind and to the environment, in order for our children to benefit from a techno-responsible planet.