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Why payments tech is about more than just blockchain and millennials

Future banking
By Kyle Ferguson, CEO

How some customers just need to take small steps to see big gains

It’s almost impossible to ignore new, exciting technologies. They are understandably hyped and often promise ground breaking solutions to long standing problems. Of course it’s of interest but technologies such as blockchain (analysts at Gartner recently positioned blockchain as falling into the trough of disillusionment) have to be kept in perspective, as we have illustrated in a previous post.

Business goes on, while we wait for technologies to mature and break into the market so it’s imperative we don’t get too distracted. Focussing on what we can influence and change now, with one eye on the future makes a lot of sense.

Helping customers make even small improvements in payments or expense management, for example, can have considerable and often immediate effect. The simple process of digitising traditional tasks such as managing paper receipts doesn’t just reduce error, it also reduces costs and saves time. Captured receipts can be matched against existing transactions and approved remotely, ensuring that members of staff are compensated quickly and accurately.

Analysis of spend
It also enables management to build a picture of expense payments through easy to use reporting tools. As more data is captured, businesses can build more sophisticated data analytics, understanding where the majority of expenses payments are made and by whom. It can provide an immediate level of intelligence, crucial for any business that needs to gain greater control of expenditure.

Another easy step to take is to start capturing card data, regardless of the bank issuer. Integrating cards into a simple management structure would ensure greater visibility of card expenditure. It should also help to identify any fraud or payment errors and provide management with a clearer, more immediate picture of where costs are potentially spiralling out of control. Using technology to integrate different systems and suppliers and enable staff through mobile payments can lead to considerable improvements in financial oversight.

Partnering to deliver new services
For banks, it is often the simple technologies, delivered through expert partners that can open doors and make huge gains for new and existing customers, regardless of location. Digital payment and expense management technologies can deliver services for diverse customers across multiple regions via secure, cloud-based infrastructures. The key is to provide card and expense solutions tailored specifically to each business, but also taking into account local culture and regulatory demands.

It’s about helping banks and customers where perhaps technology infrastructures are varied in their stages of development, after all, cash is still king in most countries. According to the 2017 Capgemini BNP Paribas World Payments Report, despite the increased adoption of digital payments, “cash continues to be in the mainstream, especially for low-value transactions and the use of cash is strongly correlated with demographics. Other key factors for high usage of cash are the anonymity of transaction associated with cash, lack of modernized payment infrastructure, and lack of access to banking systems in emerging markets.”

On paper at least, for banks this is an opportunity. Partnering with a digital payments and expense management provider could turn that opportunity into a reality.