News & Views - Savantor

From 2019 into 2020

Monday, 16 December 2019

Looking back over 2019, there has been both a continuation of the previous year’s trends and the emergence into the public domain of new developments and themes in the payments arena. 

In general the ‘Big Tech’ companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon have continued their attempts to establish themselves as significant players in the payments market and to carve roles out for themselves which are integral to payment processes and highly attractive to consumers for reasons of convenience.

One of the key emerging areas of discussion during the year was the development of a new cryptocurrency after Facebook announced in May that it is looking to develop Libra, its own digital currency. This has prompted major debates about the threats it may pose, particularly in terms of security and whether it threatens national currencies, as well as proposals for an alternative bank-backed development in the EU to compete with it on a more regulated basis. It will be extremely interesting to see how this whole topic area evolves during next year.

Mobile technology continues to play an ever increasing role in payments, with the mobile phone device ever more used as a repository of payment means without the necessity to produce a plastic. 

The continuing prevalence of contactless payments has triggered more discussions regarding the use and requirement for cash and a recognition that however ubiquitous non-cash payment methods become, there will be an impact on the disadvantaged sections of society who are reliant on cash as a payment method.

In terms of regulatory developments, on the security front, the introduction (and delayed enforcement) of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) has impacted all parties in the payment chain. As part of this initiative, consumers are finding themselves reliant on smart phones to be able to complete the verification process, helping to increase the dependence on the mobile phone in payments.

Whilst fingerprint recognition as a technology continues to be widespread, facial recognition is becoming more prevalent, particularly in the world of banking apps.

The Challenger banks continue to do just that to the established high street banks with the result that these traditional bodies are focussing on how they can become more flexible and responsive to customer needs, with many introducing mobile functions in the business to be able to compete with the more nimble digital competition. 

As 2019 has demonstrated, the payments industry is subject to continual evolution and remains an area of exciting change and development which will continue and progress into next year and beyond.

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