The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has recently entered into a joint venture with Worldline. In this interview with Mark Hand, Group Executive Australia Retail and Commercial Banking at ANZ, we look at the advantages of the banking partnership, the challenges it will address and the benefits ANZ’s customers can expect in the future.

Mark Hand, Group Executive Australia Retail and Commercial Banking at ANZ

 

 

Congratulations on the joint venture between ANZ and Worldline. Seen from your perspective, what are the main points of the collaboration?

The most important motivation from ANZ’s point of view is the increased competition in banking, which has become very significant in recent years, from new players in fintech, payments organisations, the token industry, neobanks and challenger banks.

Particularly, the buy now pay later schemes are disrupting the banking industry here in Australia. There are a few ways you can respond to this disruption: you can invest and build a world-class capability; you can acquire a company that has the required capability; or you can find the right partner who already has that capability and then tackle the issue together.

So, from my point of view, the most important aspect of this deal is that we are partnering with a company which does indeed have a world-class capability and will enable us to bring that to market for our customers sooner and in a much more comprehensive way than if we tried to do it ourselves. We are going to be much better at serving our customers and remain relevant to the market much quicker and much more effectively than we could by doing it alone.

This is the primary driver of our interest in the deal. We asked ourselves how we could meet our customers’ demands better and quicker and we decided that a partnership with Worldline was the best way to do that.
 

What are the key challenges you expect the joint venture with Worldline will address?

I think the nature of payments is changing very rapidly. We have traditionally been strong in situations where consumers need payment terminals, such as retail outlets. While this is a strength of ours, and we continue to grow in that area, we do have a weakness in the online space. So, part of the opportunity presented by the joint venture is that Worldline brings capabilities in the regions that we are either weak in or have not yet sought to develop propositions in. The banking partnership has given us the opportunity to accelerate the development for our customers much more quickly than we would have been able to by ourselves. I think that this partnership and the accompanying speed to market will be critical to our customers.


Which services and new developments do you predict ANZ’s customers will have access to in the coming years following the joint venture with Worldline?

I think we will see services such as more omnichannel solutions where customers have more payment options, whether it be on devices or access points or even through apps like WeChat or AliPay. This is something more and more of our customers are demanding.

Quite a lot of these payment options relate to digital capabilities as cash has been disappearing in Australia at a fast rate, especially during Covid-19. So our customers are increasingly looking for cash alternatives when in a store. Digital or online payment options, like using a wallet capability on a phone, are going to be at the forefront of our customers’ demands.
 

One of ANZ’s goals is to create a simpler and more digitally-focused bank. Which future payment trends do you expect will lead you in that direction?

By participating in some forms of digital gateway services, we will be even more relevant to our customers. Wallet payment is one such service that has emerged around the world and, in time, we want to participate in those types of digital payments as well as any digital payment services that add a layer of security.

We know that cybercrime and fraud are prevalent in the payment industry and we have got to be the best in the market on this issue. I think that being able to offer our customers digital payments in a very secure way and to be one of the most secure banks out there is going to be critical for our customers’ peace of mind and their willingness to bank with us going forward. This is a key area that we need to participate in and one of the main reasons we chose to partner with Worldline is because of its expertise in digital security.

We were looking at the various players in the market and ANZ was keen to partner with a company that we felt was a good cultural fit for us as an organisation. We needed a capability that was clearly proven and provided the ability for our customers to take a big step forward. Security is also absolutely at the forefront of our minds when we work with our customers. These were the reasons why we chose Worldline and, in the early stages of the banking partnership, we were pleased to find similarities in our ways of doing business and in our cultures in terms of our goals for our customers and our willingness to get things done and expand.
 

Australia is seeing a strong adoption of digital payments, which may well be connected to adapting to the era of the pandemic. Do you think that the market in Australia will have a head start in the new payment trends post Covid-19?

I think that we are on the path of becoming highly digital in the terms of digital payments. We have seen a rise in the use of digital wallets and Apple Pay during Covid-19 and we are significantly ahead of much of the world in this area.

Even though we have come through Covid-19 in good shape here in Australia, the changes in people’s shopping behaviours have continued. We are seeing an increased preference for shopping online and paying digitally and electronically in shops when the opportunity is present and in general, there is significantly less cash usage. Looking at other countries, Sweden still has a lower use of cash than we do although we are well down that path in terms of the use of cash continuing to decline here in Australia. We believe that we will remain on that path until the inevitable happens and cash is close to elimination.
 

Do you think that we will see a difference in payment trends in Australia vs. the rest of the world?

I don’t know if there will be a massive difference as such although, in Australia, we do tend to be early adopters in this space even if we tend not to be the developers of the leading solutions we see around the world. I don’t think we will find areas where Australia deviates from the trends we are seeing around the world but I do think that we will be at the forefront of the adoption of digital payments as well as buy now pay later schemes, which we have embraced very quickly here in Australia. We have always been ahead of the curve in a lot of these financial adventures and new technologies.

Our larger customers will see, as a result of this joint venture, not just more payment options and more secure options but also more data insight that will help them run their businesses better than they can today. We will have the ability to provide information for our larger customers about their payment activities, such as insights into their own customer focus for banks, which will help them form their own decisions about their business.

I think that this will be one of the extra benefits they will see following this joint venture and if we take a look at some of the smaller customers we have around the country, they will quickly get plug-and-play solutions that they do not have access to today. One of the things we need to improve is the way we treat our smaller customers and this could be, for example, by offering smaller versions of the larger scaled solutions for our very large retailers. I believe that the option of having smaller solutions makes it easier for our customers to choose the best option for themselves and quickly adopt that solution, while being able to receive new types of payments will benefit our smaller customers greatly. In the beginning, there will be less focus on data analytics and more focus on being able to accept different types of digital payments very quickly which will then, in time, provide them with data.

In the future we can build solutions that link into, for example, practice management software that medical organisations use to make sure that the payment is very well captured and monitored and links directly to their accounting software. This will help small business owners save time by helping them manage their payments much more comprehensively than they are currently able.

The message from me is that this is now a much more powerful proposition that we can present to our customers because we are bringing the best of our two organisations together. I think the speed at which we can develop and bring really great solutions to market once we are up and running is going to surprise our competitors. The exciting part for us is our customers seeing real benefits come out of this.

 

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