There are plenty of defining years in the history books, and as 2020 draws to a close, it’s almost certain that the global pandemic will ensure that this year is featured prominently. With events cancelled, launches delayed, and country-wide lockdowns, the way we work has changed forever. Still, for financial technology and surrounding industries, this was also a year of challenge and opportunity.
This December, The Fintech Times is asking industry leaders for their ‘View from the Top’ to gain an insight into the decisions behind the last 12-months. Today, we’re looking at the issue of paytech, hearing from Eliot Buchanan, Tony Killeen, Gary Rohloff and Ken Serdons on their 2020 thoughts, plus a look ahead to 2021. Will there be a Happy New Year? Read on…
Paytech is one of the more popular fintech verticals and the one that the majority of customers interact within everyday life. Whether its buying groceries or sending money abroad, there are numerous fintechs available to serve all of your payment needs. They have seen a particular surge this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the discouragement of using cash, leading to a boom in contactless payment method use. In this View from the Top, companies Plastiq, allpay, Laybuy and Mollie outline their own 2020 experience.
Eliot Buchanan is the Co-founder and CEO of Plastiq, a payments company that empowers small business leaders to grow by enabling card payments where cards are traditionally not accepted. When looking to the future, Eliot believes that AI-enabled payments services will become standard in the paytech world.
“Payments-as-a-service has become the norm: AI-driven payment intelligence is making payments easier than ever before for businesses. Using a combination of data science and pattern recognition, these smart products can now recommend how best to make a payment (ACH, credit card, etc.) based on the payment type and amount of cash a business has on hand. This is especially important for smaller companies watching their cash flow who don’t have the expertise to manage it themselves.
“Businesses will remain with their banks for core banking, but will move to fintechs for other services: No fintech company has been able to replace a bank as a trusted, secure place to store their money, but the increased credibility and awareness of fintech solutions has helped businesses become more comfortable using them for other services, such as making payments or securing loans.
“Fintech will be key in helping businesses bounce back post-Covid: Many industries, from hospitality and restaurants to eCommerce and retail, took massive hits during the pandemic and resulting recession. As businesses come back online as things return to normal, fintech solutions will be incredibly helpful in getting them back on track and helping them become more consistent with their capital management and payments so they can grow faster and access working capital.”
Tony Killeen is the founder, owner and managing director of allpay Limited, a provider of complete payments services including credit cards, pre-paid cards, direct debit and bill payment collection. He thinks that open banking is the future of the industry.
“Looking back at 2020 and the challenges we have faced as an industry, the pandemic has proved fintech’s worth and will be sure to define its future. From now, innovate to accumulate must account for inclusion as the fallout from Covid pushes the prospect of a cashless society ever closer.
“In the UK alone, key pre-pandemic assessments of financial exclusion were stark in showing an estimated 1.3m adults lack a bank account and 3.1m have one or more high-cost loans charging more than high street banks. It’s too easy, if not dismissive, to set those effectively paying what amounts to a poverty premium against the estimated 97% of UK adults holding an account they can use to make day-to-day payments and transaction – a current account in around 96% of cases. To this end, open banking becomes both the question and the answer.
“Fintech now needs its “Rashford moment”. The point at which (social) problem solving is a how-to lesson for Government from those that have ‘been there’ and are willing to ‘go there’. As such, allpay is proud of its award-winning CSR work with the Scottish Government tackling food poverty – showcasing the difference prepaid cards can make, over vouchers. Yes, the sector’s response to Covid is rightly recognised as bold. But the future’s coming so fast it will soon be the past. We need to be bold enough to evolve and ensure no-one is left behind!”
Gary Rohloff co-founded Laybuy in New Zealand in 2016 with his wife and two sons and has served as the Managing Director of the company ever since. Laybuy is a Buy Now Pay Later company, providing deferred payments technology to the UK, New Zealand and Australia. In his opinion, the boom in e-commerce has been particularly significant this year.
“It is an understatement to say 2020 has been anything but a rollercoaster.
“It has been one of the most challenging and stressful years any business leader will ever experience. Business plans that were relevant in January found themselves in the shredder by the end of March. And while the long-term impacts of Covid-19 remain unclear, what is clear is it will have a lasting impact. It will change the way we think about work, how we communicate and how we shop. Confronted with this level of global disruption, as a leader you have two choices – adapt and thrive or die. We chose to thrive, and this meant helping our team, our customers and our merchant partners to adapt.
“One of the impacts of Covid-19 has been the explosion in online shopping. With government restrictions and social distancing requirements, consumers had no choice but to turn to online to buy. Through our innovative payment technology, Laybuy is helping a payment solution to e-commerce. For consumers, Laybuy provides an alternative to credit cards. Better still, it enables consumers to spread the costs of their purchase over six weeks and never pay interest. Merchants offering Laybuy can offer online credit while maintaining their cashflow by being paid immediately. Laybuy purchases the goods and services on behalf of the consumer. While 2020 has been challenging, it has provided Laybuy with the opportunity to transform our relationship with our partners and our customers. It is these new relationships that will see us thrive in 2021.”
Ken Serdons, Chief Commercial Officer at Mollie, one of the largest payments processors in Europe and recently achieving unicorn status. He believes that SME’s will need to cater to consumer demand when it comes to payment methods.
“With online demographics changing and customer expectations evolving, consumers will be more particular when it comes to payment methods, choosing solutions that are right for them and work for the channel and the transaction. Bigger transactions might see customers using a credit card or a secure payment type. Whereas a mobile payment method or fintech wallet might be used for a smaller transaction and a recurring payment would be handled by direct debit, depending on what is required.
“To meet these requirements, SME merchants will cater to popular payment methods and offer new specific payment methods that fit the needs of consumers. In some cases, new payment infrastructure will be needed, but in the long run, this investment will bolster a retailer’s potential customer base. This is also much easier to achieve with modern payment providers.”