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Is Europe all digital now?

Key considerations for future proofing your business in the digital age as discussed at the recent Mastercard Engage Forum.

The Thredd team

May 08, 2024

The Mastercard Engage Forum is an annual event where partners come together to discuss the latest payments trends, relay success stories and showcase new product launches.

During the event, Thredd’s Head of Partnerships & Propositions, Jonathan Vaux was part of a panel discussion entitled “Is Europe all Digital Now?”, hosted by moderator Gaëtan Bouteiller, Director, Business Development at Mastercard. The panel discussed the way the payments landscape is transforming in the digital age.

There was a broad consensus that we’ve come a long way but there’s still much left to do before our ecosystem becomes truly digital. So what can be learnt from this discussion when it comes to future proofing your business model? Here's some key considerations for the next five years.


The panel discussed the differences in levels and types of digitalisation across Europe and how this is affecting the landscape at a consumer level. Following the pandemic, we experienced a continent-wide change that impacted our shopping behaviours and spurred a move toward true digitalisation. In the midst of changes like corporations going cashless, the payments ecosystem had to react quickly or risk being left behind.

A large percentage of high street consumers are also moving to e-commerce, and those that are sticking to the high street are moving to contactless payments with “the greatest increase in adoption [being] during the pandemic but note that the use of digital wallets, P2P mobile apps and QR codes also are on the rise”.  This sentiment is very much mirrored in the world of banking, with a big proportion of high street banks closing their doors, as consumer behaviour leads the market away from bricks-and-mortar establishments that are no longer seen as top priority, replacing them with enhanced digital offerings.

As digital adoption grows the panel notes that this shift in behaviour has become a catalyst for both an increased fraud risk but also new technology to combat that risk.

Technological sophistication and the rise of AI

Alongside the pan-European push toward e-commerce sales, the panel discussed the tremendous pace of technological change with the rise of AI, which has been fuelled by innovative disruptors and regulations like PSD2 (and soon 3).

The panel discussed the changing fraud landscape, emphasising that hackers and their malware are becoming more sophisticated, and therefore, providers in the payments value chain need to evolve their technologies to match these advances. They highlighted the digitisation of fraud protection and authentication through the likes of generative AI and biometric payment methods, click-to-pay, and other tokenization technologies, e.g. facial recognition, that is enabling providers to see real reductions in fraud, as well as create more seamless authentication processes. 

What's coming next?

As we have seen, the landscape has changed so rapidly in such a short period of time, it is hard to know where innovation go next.

When discussing their predictions for the next five years; Jonathan stated that “in a rapidly evolving market, what was once considered a luxury is now a necessity,” and that for any card programme there will be a real shift from 'nice-to-have' features to indispensable components needed to meet user expectations.

Key watch-put areas highlighted by the panel included expense management solutions for SME’s. The ever-changing environment for SMEs which currently represent 99% of all European businesses, and are driving close to 50% EUR GDP, yet we see 80% lack proper digital tools to grow their business and 50% are re-evaluating their banking relationship. One of the vital solutions that SMEs are looking to the payments industry for is expense management, the panel proffered that in the next five years the focus will be on helping to transform this into a more seamless, automated process.

For more information on the future of expense management, including the opportunity for integration of AI, watch our recent interview with

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