This episode on the Payments Podcast featured Ed Adshead-Grant, General Manager of Payments, analyzing what this year’s results mean in the future of payments: Changing business landscape section of the report.

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Podcast Transcript:

Rich Williams: The payments landscape has changed considerably over the last few years and it shows no signs of slowing down. Hello, I’m Rich Williams, host of the Payments Podcast and this episode will focus on a section of the 2019 Business Payments Barometer entitled, ‘The Future of Payments, a Changing Business Landscape.’ Today, I’m joined by Ed Adshead-Grant, general manager of payments at Bottomline, and also the face behind the future of payments section in the barometer itself. Hello Ed.

Ed Adshead-Grant: Hello Rich.

Rich Williams: Let’s start off with the very first question in the barometer, which details the topics of influence that will have the greatest impact on payment processes over the next 12 months. Ed, this year’s top-ranking influence was mobile technology. Why do you think that this was ranked number one for the first time ever, and what does this tell us about business payments as a whole?

Ed Adshead-Grant: Thanks Rich. Yes, it is the first time we’ve had mobile-first, and literally, that is the term around the industry, mobile-first, on the approach to payments. My view on this is it’s been in the consumer world for some time, everyone operates via the glass. You see it on your commute into work, you see it around everywhere that people are fixed on the mobile and the enterprise follows the consumer.

It just takes time. I think we’re now starting to see a demand where finance directors, treasurers, financial decision-makers want to be on the move and able to at least read through the payment confidential information, maybe even start authorising, but certainly starting to have a mobile-first payment solution to work with.

Rich Williams: Why do you think this is rated higher than last year’s top influence, which was Brexit, and previous second place of security, which we’ve seen dropped to second and third respectively this year.

Ed Adshead-Grant: Yes, so for Brexit, I truly think there’s just some fatigue involved in that discussion. We’re not quite sure where it’s going to go. I have to put a thumbs up for UK Finance, they’ve done a fantastic job lobbying the European teams for the SEPA Zone. We know, whether Brexit or not, that the SEPA zone, that’s the Single European Payments Area, will continue, and you can trade in electronic Euros. Brexit in some ways has become less important on payments.

In terms of security, well, it’s always there, isn’t it? It’s been in the top three every year, four years in a row somewhere and we’ve noted this year the numbers are only getting bigger, £240,000 average hit on fraudulent transactions. Good to see it there, I think it’s just moved down a little bit from our mobile conversation.

Rich Williams: Do you think we’ll see any of the other influencing factors such as artificial intelligence, or real-time payments rising over the coming years or more?

Ed Adshead-Grant: I think real-time payments for sure. I mean, it’s already here, it’s real-time, it’s digital, it’s available for the corporates to make their business payments. I think artificial intelligence is also being embedded in many of the early applications we’re seeing. The interesting thing here is you actually need the data first, you need that enriched data to make AI machine learning that much more effective in personalising and predicting what comes up on the screens for payments and decision-makers on payments.

Open banking is definitely starting to push this with the reading of new data and the availability of new data, so I think AI will only be a matter of time when it really starts to be seen adding much more value once these datasets are blending into the payments operations.

Rich Williams: Moving on now to a topic that we discuss quite a lot on this podcast, upcoming payment initiatives. With 63% of the audience agreeing that regulatory changes will impact payment processes in 2019, how prepared are organisations for these upcoming payment initiatives, Ed.?

Ed Adshead-Grant: I think this is a difficult one with everything that’s going on in the payments industry right now. It’s very difficult for companies to resource the right priorities so number one, they comply, but number two if they can, they take the opportunity to become more competitive with all the changes that are coming through. Some of the banks, they’re struggling as well to just run the shop, the business as usual and innovate with some of these changes. They usually offer a baseline of solutions, but there is always more that can be done.

If I was going to make any suggestion for the enterprise, it was probably to identify one person in their team who can be like, the payment tsar, who can go out and not just treat all the changes as compliance, but look to identify opportunities where they can work with someone like ourselves or another Fintech provider, to make sure they’re not just baselining the changes involved, but making the most of the opportunities.

Rich Williams: Interestingly, one of the respondents did actually say that they rely on their solution provider to keep them abreast of all the changes itself.

Ed Adshead-Grant: Exactly, and I think that’s a good model. It’s a collaborative model, it’s one where you scan the market and look to take the best of many ideas. I think that’s probably much more the future in payments given there is so much going on.

Rich Williams: On that topic, and to bring this all together for us Ed, what can the world of business payments be doing over the next few months to prepare for 2020 and beyond that?

Ed Adshead-Grant: Well, certainly reach out like we said to the trusted business advisors you might have or in payments. If you don’t have one, find one. They live and breathe this stuff, they can share what’s happening in all of this world of acronyms, confirmation of payee, request to pay, various compliance mandates. There is really so much going on that it does need to be read up and you do need to lean into some of your partners just to make sure you’ve got the basics covered.

Rich Williams: Well, that was really interesting. Thank you as ever, Ed.

Ed Adshead-Grant: Thank you.

Rich Williams: That’s all we have time for in this episode. You can download the whole 2019 Business Payments Barometer either on the Bottomline website or by clicking the link in the summary of this episode. In the meantime, you can listen to more episodes and all things payments at the touch of a button using your preferred provider. We will see you all next time.

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