With the huge shift in the way we now live and work – with ‘social distancing’ and remote working now a part of daily life – and a whirlwind of hurdles awaiting us in 2021, there has been a dramatic change to the way businesses work and how they manage their finances.
Matt Cockayne is Chief Commercial Officer of API connectivity provider Yapily. Yapily empowers people around the world to receive faster, affordable and personalised products. The company has raised $18.4m in funding to date, and provides infrastructure for industry leaders including American Express, Intuit Quickbooks, Moneyfarm and BUX.
Here Matt argues 2020 has brought about long-lasting changes to the way payments are made and the further changes to come in 2021.
For businesses, the seismic shift to online payments is the biggest change we will take out of 2020. While the future of payments has long been touted as cashless, the pandemic has excelled this reality. While contactless payments were initially encouraged in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus, it is clear this has now become the preferred method of paying for both suppliers and customers alike.
But for businesses who have always relied on cash in hand – or a mix of the two – the risk of falling victim to high levels of cart abandonment, card fraud, unexpected refunds and high transaction fees have now become part of their day-to-day existence due to lack of experience in the online payments world. However, Open Banking powered payments could change that.
With no middlemen or unnecessary steps in the process, Open Banking payments ultimately reduce the amount of fees that merchants pay on transactions that would usually pass through debit or credit card providers. They also reduce the likelihood of fraud and provide a smoother customer experience. So looking ahead at 2021, we will see a rise in the adoption of Open Banking to manage and support the wider online payments ecosystem.
The various Government-backed loan schemes – Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Furlough and Eat Out to Help Out – has proved a significant challenge in 2020. There have been numerous complaints from businesses that loans have not been received quick enough and it is the lenders who have suffered the most scrutiny for their role in distributing vital funds.
However, with the shift to digital payments, we are seeing lenders adopt more innovative solutions to manage a slew of loan applications. By utilising Open Banking, income verification is faster and more efficient for lenders, allowing instant access to a company, or individual’s financial information in real-time. And in the event of negative interest rates coming in the near future, Open Banking will be a crucial tool for lenders looking to keep the system fair and deliver maximum value to their clients.
Looking to 2021, we will see the implementation of the Brexit transition, as the UK gets to grip with a new set of trading rules, with or without a deal or no deal from the European Union (EU). Brexit’s impact will be felt by those UK businesses that either indirectly support EU businesses, or directly transact within the EU. These businesses will need to seriously consider their payment strategies if they want to excel and transition with ease.
We are also likely to see the volume of requests to onboard Open Banking increase in the first half of 2021. Businesses will put themselves in the best position possible to transition out of the EU if they can offer faster payment solutions.
In addition, we’ll see Open Finance truly step onto the world stage. Open Banking originated in the UK and the country has always been leading Europe, and the world, when it comes to baking innovation. However, since the rest of Europe adopted Open Banking, other countries are taking the UK’s successes one step further through Open Finance. We are seeing this in Brazil, Canada and Australia too. 2021 will see the UK start to retake the lead in Open Finance.
Despite the events of 2020, the UK still remains the global hub for payments innovation and broader fintech. And looking ahead at 2021, by adopting these forward-thinking trends and taking the power of payments to the next level, businesses will have far more opportunities to not only grow, but to thrive as we begin our economic recovery.