With the recent publication of Worldline’s Navigating Digital Payments report, it would be safe to draw the conclusion that the payment industry is more complex than ever before: a veritable embarrassment of innovative solutions, expanding experiences and new ways to solve old problems (or problems that we didn’t even know we had). But in this expanding universe lies a paradox. Placed against an exponentially complex universe, the simple front of house experience demanded by merchants and their customers is quite the opposite. Think simpler, streamlined and frictionless. For me this is an admirable ambition but with little cognisance of the battle being waged behind the scenes.
However, and here is the interesting bit, this expanded and complex universe can be tamed. Well, maybe tamed is too optimistic. Perhaps rather a softening of the edges or a better joined-up-ness is more achievable.
Digging into this challenge, the Discovery Hub behind Worldline’s latest Navigating Digital Payments report arrived at three key dualities present in the battle between simplicity and complexity in the world of payments today. Namely:
- Unification Taming Diversification - how can the proliferation of business models, solutions and technology be tamed to create straightforward, sustainable solutions?
- Seamless Interactions Amidst Accelerated Digitalisation – how can secure, inclusive digital solutions be built that enable new in-store experiences and autonomous payments?
- Implicit Trust From Regulations – how can the regulatory landscape and the protection of privacy be embraced in a way that will enable the data economy and trust at the point of sale?
In my opinion these dualities represent the essence of the tension between the simple demand and the complex reality that exists in payments and the frontiers that are being tested daily, challenged and sometimes, dare we say it, being reconciled.
Take the question of solution diversification. Every day a bright new idea or innovative way of employing a technology bursts into life. All individually interesting and well-intentioned but, when added to the raft of other good ideas, it can be confusing to choose which one to adopt or deploy. A little like trying to pick a horse to back at the races when surrounded by a throng of noisy bookmakers; form is useful, but no guarantee of the race ahead.
However, with the benefit of easier integration, increased collaboration, deeper partnerships and expanding ecosystems of solutions or, better still, connected services united across common customer journeys, then things can be simpler.
Take the solution journey offered to hospitality merchants through Ingenico’s new Axium terminals. Pay the bill for your meal using contactless (or even an alternative payment like AliPay), get your receipt by email with digital receipts, add points to your loyalty scheme with Joyn and then order a taxi to get you home using MyTaxi. Four different activities all nested in the same journey, enabled by a growing ecosystem of solutions that can be offered and managed by the estate owner, be that the acquirer, bank or reseller.
What’s clear from this example and what I’m personally seeing in the market is that the innovators behind each of these solutions are thinking less about how they design single purpose point solutions. Instead they are giving much more consideration to creating digital experiences that play well with others and bring value as part of a wider set of activities.
Roll back a few years: this was just plain difficult and required a lot of time, effort and cost to bring to life. However, with the flexibility of an Android platform such as that being deployed by Ingenico, coupled with an App store populated with solutions from a network of partners, what was once a challenge is fast becoming business as usual. With this kind of joined up thinking I believe it is possible to choose a horse where the odds are more of a sure thing and complexity doesn’t get in the way of making a simple choice.
For more insight on the dualities described, the Navigating Digital Payments report can be found here. Equally, if you have any questions or want to know more, you can contact me at simon.fairbairn@Worldline.com.