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What Has Been the Most Impactful Payment Solution in the Last Five Years?

Payments are arguably the face of fintech. When you think about financial technology, it is easy to think about solutions which are making payments faster, easier and more accessible.

As our paytech monthly topic concludes we heard from the industry about the future and what new trends will impact the paytech world. We take a retrospective look and investigate which payment technologies have shaped the industry into its current iteration.

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) has taken the payments world by storm
Richard Bayer, UK country manager at Clearpay
Richard Bayer, UK country manager at Clearpay

Different age groups are very quickly adopting BNPL explains Rich Bayer, UK country manager, Clearpay, the BNPL provider: “The growth of BNPL as a preferred payment option is one of the most significant shifts retail payments has seen in the last five years – and the trend is set to continue.

“Clearpay’s latest Oxford Economics report revealed that nearly one in three UK consumers used BNPL over the 12 months ending August 2023, with this figure rising to 41 per cent and 36 per cent respectively among Gen X and Millennials.

“This data, coupled with the fact that Boomers were the payment method’s fastest growing group of users last year, demonstrates that it’s no longer accurate to think of BNPL as a product just for Gen Z and Millennials.”

Digital wallets are usurping other payment types
James Fry, senior vice president strategic expansion, WorldPay,
James Fry, senior vice president of strategic expansion, WorldPay,

For James Fry, senior vice president strategic expansion, WorldPay, the payment processor, digital wallets have been the most disruptive payment technology in the past five years. He explains that more retailers will expand their offerings to include them as time goes on.

“Without a doubt, digital wallets have had the most profound impact on payments in the past five years. According to The Global Payments Report, digital wallets have usurped other payments types for both e-commerce and at the point of sale (representing 49 per cent and 32 per cent market share respectively) showing how truly disruptive the technology has been.

“Not only that, but these payment methods also continue to be the fastest growing with forecasted rates of 12 per cent and 15 per cent CAGR for ecom and POS. As consumer preferences drive this space, I would expect more retailers to expand their offerings to enable digital wallet and contactless experiences for their customers. The message from consumers is clear: they desire the seamless and fast experiences digital wallets and contactless payments offer.”

It’s not just technology that has been setting trends, but the companies using it
Bonnie Green, solutions architect, Shieldpay, payment
Bonnie Green, solutions architect, Shieldpay

Bonnie Green, solutions architect, Shieldpay, the payments solutions provider, looks towards Stripe as a trendsetter for the payments industry, identifying the fintech’s success and how others should learn from it.

“Undoubtedly, the payments industry has evolved and grown substantially over the past five years, with some extraordinary advancements in the underlying technology powering payments. A core player in this space is Stripe. Their streamlined setup, seamless integration, and user-friendly solutions have become the hallmark of its success and have set high standards for the industry.

“I think we should particularly call out Stripe’s remarkable integration capabilities and APIs. Their unique scaling strategy via the developer community with simple, easy-to-deploy coding has led to the company establishing a prolific global footprint.

“With this, it is also important to touch on the pivotal role they have played in establishing an internationalised financial infrastructure. In 2024, we will see an industry-wide focus on cross-border transactions. The early pioneers of paytech, such as Stripe, have been pivotal to setting up a strong core capability, and have set the industry up for success for a new era of global payment transformation.”

Software-driven and self-service solutions hold the crown for the biggest impact
Peter O’Halloran, VP and head of enterprise and digital commerce EMEA at Fiserv, payment
Peter O’Halloran, VP and head of enterprise and digital commerce EMEA at Fiserv

Peter O’Halloran, VP and head of enterprise and digital commerce EMEA, Fiserv, the fintech and payments solutions provider, notes the impact in terms of accessibility and seamlessness that software-driven and self-service solutions have had the biggest impact on the payments market.

“The shift towards software-driven and self-service solutions has been the most impactful development in the past five years. Customers and merchants alike are no longer restricted to fixed tills, which can result in frustrating queues and lost sales for merchants. Being able to accept payments anywhere in-store or even at the fuel court where customers can pay at the pump, has been made possible through smart devices using softPoS solutions.

“We know that customers are also increasingly wanting to pay quickly on their own terms. Merchants investing in unattended self–service options have paved the way– with customers using vending machines, for example, able to make contactless payments from their phones.

“With convenience and flexibility enabled by these solutions, the checkout experience has been entirely redefined for merchants and consumers.”

Straight-through payments
Pat Bermingham, CEO, Adflex payment
Pat Bermingham, CEO, Adflex

Pat Bermingham, CEO, Adflex, the B2B digital payment processor, explains how straight-through payments have shaped the market in the last five years, look at how processes have evolved.

“In the B2B world, straight-through payments (STP) have changed the game. Five years ago, accounts payable teams would typically call suppliers to provide card numbers for payment. This wasn’t efficient, and huge delays could be incurred by businesses using this approach. However, STP has flipped the B2B payments process on its head.

“STP enables real-time commercial card payments and puts power in the hands of buyers, rather than suppliers. Buyers can automatically ‘push’ payments to suppliers, increasing security and control, speeding up payments and significantly improving supplier relationships that are crucial to better business. It also removes burdensome PCI DSS compliance from the process by automating manual processes.

“Do not underestimate the impact STP has in a B2B payment landscape worth trillions. It helps boost organisations’ ability to conduct business at scale and can support automatic transaction splitting to execute large ticket transactions.

“STP significantly enhances the ability to perform prompt payment, in line with growing regulations. Prompt payments mean a healthier cash flow, something that is vital for businesses of all sizes, but particular SMEs. As more businesses adopt STP, expect to see it further level the B2B payment playing field by reducing barriers to faster payment.”

Tap-to-Pay technology has transformed terminal accessibility
George Sinanis, COO,
George Sinanis, COO,

Tap-on-phone and tap-to-pay have revolutionised POS terminals, enabling greater accessibility for payments explains  George Sinanis, COO,, European cloud-based neobank.

“The chorus has been growing from merchants seeking out more affordable and flexible alternatives to legacy POS hardware for some time now. But in the last year alone we’ve seen how Tap-on-Phone or Tap-to-Pay technology, which transforms smartphones into terminals, has truly met this need.

“The technology represents a new era of simple, convenient and flexible payment acceptance for merchants. Not to mention the financial benefits that come from reduced infrastructure investment and maintenance costs and boosted sales opportunities. Whether it’s a sole trader, Black Cab driver or a food truck owner, Tap-on-Phone has enabled smaller merchants to set up their business and simply start taking cashless payment on-site or on-the-go, anywhere their customer is.

“That said, we’re seeing from our own customers that demand isn’t limited to small merchants, with mid-sized retailers and restaurants also identifying use cases to streamline the in-store customer experience and reduce costs. Tap-on-Phone technology will continue to be a powerful tool for a range of merchants as they strive to stay competitive and deliver a premium experience to customers.”

Simplicity comes from using your phone as a payment point
Andrew Doyle, CEO of NorthRow
Andrew Doyle, CEO of NorthRow

Andrew Doyle, CEO, NorthRow, the AML Software-as-a-Service company, explains how different technologies have enabled a better end-user experience, looking at the rise in mobile payment and blockchain.

“The rise of mobile payments and digital wallets – this has been fuelled by the widespread adoption of smartphones and the internet. As consumers embrace the ease and quickness of tapping their cards or using mobile payment apps to make transactions, the growth in mobile payments has been driven by demands for a more practical and seamless payment experience.

“Such convenience has led to a dramatic increase in their use for both online and physical store transactions.

“Furthermore, mobile and contactless payments often incorporate advanced security features like biometric authentication (fingerprint or facial recognition) and tokenization, which substitutes sensitive data with non-sensitive equivalents. These features have made mobile payments more secure than traditional methods, reducing fraud and increasing consumer trust.

“While other payment innovations like cryptocurrencies, blockchain-based payments, and P2P payment platforms have also made notable impacts, the sheer scale of adoption and the broad influence of mobile payments and digital wallets across various sectors make them arguably the most impactful payment solution in the last five years.”

Amid a boom of new technologies, let’s not forget about the power of contactless
Andrew Burman, principal and global practice lead, Transformation at Ryan
Andrew Burman, principal and global practice lead, Transformation at Ryan

Andrew Burman, principal and global practice lead, transformation and automation, at Ryan, the global tax services and software provider, also identifies various technologies which have impacted the payments world.

“The payment industry has continued to undergo significant and accelerated change over the past five years.

“Contactless payment methods have become more popular, making small transactions more convenient and increasingly replacing traditional cash transactions. However, this convenience has come with an increased risk of fraud, especially as the upper limits for these transactions have increased over time. Fortunately, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have continued to evolve to help manage the risk of fraud more effectively and efficiently as the volume of transactions has increased exponentially.

“As consumers have become more mobile, it has become increasingly challenging to keep track of their locations, adding a layer of complexity to managing finance and tax implications and liabilities.”

Perks of blockchain

“Blockchain technology has also continued to develop as part of the portfolio of solutions to track payments, providing a new level of transparency across each step of the payment chain. This has resulted in more complete audit trails, on a more real-time basis, which offers greater convenience and insight for finance and tax teams. To match this, tax authorities and auditors are increasingly moving to real-time interrogation of data, meaning transactions have to be captured correctly, the first time, every time.

“Meanwhile, payment methods and models have become more diverse, with the likes of Apple Pay and PayPal increasingly being used at the point of purchase, bringing payment convenience to consumers’ fingertips. However, this increase in the number of parties involved in any transaction has also created challenges in managing and tracking payments.

“Connectivity between systems on a more real-time basis has helped manage this increased complexity, but nevertheless finance and tax teams are feeling the impact of the exponential growth in transaction numbers and are increasingly finding they have to adapt to ever-more complex and voluminous data sets to keep up with the demands and stay in front of the financial and tax-related issues.”


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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