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Beyond conference season: key questions payments innovators need to answer.

Betsy Samuel

July 20, 2023

With the payments conference season taking a summer break, we begin our industry insights series addressing key topics impacting payments innovators.

In the wake of key events ranging from MRC Barcelona, ePay Summit, and the Pay360 Conference, through to Seamless Asia and, finally, Money 20/20 Europe, it’s time for some reflection and next step actions. Throughout these events, there has been both buzzy optimism and continued concern around the persistent challenges that successful players must navigate. So, what should leaders—both new and existing— in the payments offerings and card programmes space consider, as we head into the second half of 2023? We’ve compiled our thoughts in this series.

Which payments innovations are hitting the mark?

Throughout the conference season, we saw agenda topics that sought to capture the next big thing(s) in payments. Yet what cut through was that delivering clear value for the customer consistently trumps the prospect of building a brave new world. Waze and Moovit founder Uri Levine summed up the kind of assessment needed at a talk he gave on the first morning: “Banks need to think about their next product, who their customers are, what they want, and what value they can bring. If you’re not solving a problem, forget [about developing] a product.”

So, where do the various products that have been touted as “the next big thing” stand in 2023? Digital wallets and crypto-related products were particularly hot topics this year, albeit for quite different reasons.

When is a bulging wallet a bad thing?

We’ve seen a lot of discussions about the differences between what businesses want and what consumers want. For the former, faster payment is paramount, but for the latter, speed is just one important consideration. Consumers truly want it all: convenience, transparency, predictability and simplicity above all else. Those consumer considerations came to the fore at a discussion that took place on day two of Money 20/20, between David Levy of SNCF and Christoph Beckenbauer of LEGIC Identsystems.

The conversation focused on the future of the digital wallet market — a market that is forecast to be worth 51.53 billion USD by 2030, expanding at a CAGR of 27.4%. It’s hard not to be excited by the innovation potential in a market going great guns. We believe that the most interesting part of the conversation is the need to is the need to thoughtfully consider new wallet features as they emerge. Go too far and there’s a danger that customers begin to feel like they’re lugging around a digital suitcase — overstuffed, and potentially tipping the balance away from simplicity to unnecessary complexity. A well-curated selection of features, informed by customer research and improved by ongoing “test and learn”, should provide the most likely path to success.

Where’s the Crypto?

You only need to google “is crypto dead?” to see how news feeds have been dominated by the volatility of the cryptocurrency market over the last twelve months. While the agendas in previous years were packed with crypto-related conversations, this year’s conference content reflected a stark shift with only a handful of stands showcasing crypto-related products as firms consider their next move. This tracked across much of conference season, with many events featuring only minimal nods to the state of crypto currencies.

This crypto inflection point is a timely reminder for all the innovators out there. Every “shoot for the moon” payment product ambition must also deliver both consumer value and secure value. Balancing an exciting concept with exciting ROI potential, while also protecting a consumer’s hard-earned funds, will always be key to launching a successful payments service. Innovators who also provide consumers with the tools and transparency necessary to make informed decisions are best poised to successfully ride the next payments’ innovation wave, gaining industry attention.

As the payments partner to some of the world’s most ambitious businesses, we believe the companies best poised to successfully ride the next wave of innovation are the ones that empower consumers to make better informed decisions. Great customer experience is increasingly about combining ease of use with a sense of control from tools and transparency. So, features like instant card freezing, spend tracking and spend limits, are important ways to win the confidence and create real, lasting value. And striking the right balance comes down to having the right partner by your side from the start.

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