Attending MPE Berlin has become a tradition for us. It’s the way we start the year properly: by meeting our peers and partners to talk about industry updates, common challenges and how we can help each other keep up with the needs and demands of merchants and consumers.
This year’s edition of MPE Berlin was insightful, with many payments and ecommerce developments to debate. Just like every year, we discussed with some of the most inspiring speakers the main topics that the sector is currently obsessing about and compiled a snapshot summarizing the event. Here’s a look:
Where are we now?
The current industry setting is in the process of being defined and aligned by regulation. As a result, we can see a new wave of innovation coming from new industry players attempting to challenge the established ones.
In terms of the main buzzwords that keep things interesting right now, we have data, fraud and PSD2, dictating priorities for both payments and ecommerce players. However, as our COO, Gijs op de Weegh pointed out, we can’t say they are disruptive since payments is considered a slow industry, with hardly any disruption having taken place so far. Instead, these trending topics are making the sector more efficient, enabling operators to better accommodate consumer needs and demands.
What’s next in payments?
As Ron Kalifa argued at last year’s edition of MPE Berlin, processing transactions only is a thing of the past for payments operators as we’re shifting towards offering added value services meant to help merchants increase their revenues. On the same note, as Osama Bedier from Poynt explained: “payments have always been about increasing sales, so we have to go back to that value proposition”. This means supporting merchants in improving their authorization rates, fighting fraud and offering them consumer journey insights that can enhance their strategies.
Certainly, technology is a constant fascination to all of us, especially when it comes to enhancing processes and providing a good shopping experience for consumers. Right now, however, the entire industry is focused on regulatory changes. “For the coming years, this means GDPR, PSD2, [and] the transition to open banking,” as David Birch from Consult Hyperion explained.
When asked about what the future holds, our speakers referred to seamless and cashless. One of the top priorities of merchants is making sure that the checkout process is short, taking into account the fact that modern day consumers are used to–and demand–very quick and effortless checkouts as part of their shopping journey.
Another aspect that merchants consider important for the future is for PSPs to involve and allow them to experiment on the interface and scheme they provide, so as to customize the experience according to their particular needs.
What’s challenging the payments and ecommerce space?
Regulation again took center stage, being considered one of priorities for everyone in the ecommerce and payments landscape. Of particular note was the way operators will work with customer data and have all the processes in place to be compliant with GDPR.
Another challenge that the speakers identified was understanding consumer behavior, such as why and where a customer is using a device, and use these insights to improve the customer journey. What we see now is that “consumers shift from one device to another, but it’s really difficult to understand why and how you can tailor it on the technology,” explained Tomasz Pieta from Booking.com.
This links to the third challenge that merchants are currently experiencing: technology. Why so? Technology has improved significantly on the consumers’ side, in that their expectations of how a retail interaction should look like are extremely high. Conversely, as Osama Bedier argued, merchants find themselves on the opposite side, having old, aging technology that is holding them hostage from delivering the experience they want to provide for their customers,.
What are payments operators focusing on?
Bringing together all the interaction points in the consumer journey remains a top priority for payment operators. They are currently focused on ensuring a unified customer experience for consumers through the help of a secure solution. Offering a true omnichannel proposition means having “the overarching view and capabilities to bring all channels together”.
At the same time, payment providers are working towards providing the proper data and tools to manage the payments process, chargebacks and fraud — the main areas of concern for merchants when it comes to payments.
Data, data, data
“Data is the new oil,” argued Ghela Boskovich. It’s something that we cannot do business without nowadays since everything is connected through data. However, as our COO, Gijs op de Weegh, mentioned, the industry is at the very beginning with putting it into practice by getting a good understanding of it and building the models and algorithms for making use of it.
What’s crucial when starting to work with data is setting specific goals for using it to optimize your business. These could range from achieving a higher conversion rate, becoming more efficient, increasing the revenue or presenting yourself in a different way. Based on what merchants want to achieve, the data scientists can decide what to look for in the data and how to actually start using it to produce benefits.
Event themes: Innovation and Disruption
Very often we think of innovation as something strongly linked to technology. However, according to our speakers, modern-day innovation is not necessarily related to any specific technology. In fact, as Neira Jones told us, it “looks like something that’s solving a real problem, helping businesses to either comply with the regulation or become stickier”.
Next to innovation, disruption seemed to appear as well in most of the talks and sessions at MPE 2018. Our CPO, John Snoek, warned us that sometimes the term seems a bit overused as “we just call everything disruption”. As a result, the new disruption “is not about the great innovation that will change the world”, but actually “doing all the parts in the customer journey right”.
What else is hot right now in the industry?
Collective intelligence. Meaning, the collaboration between industry players to help each other understand the current trends and challenges and how to properly cope with them to be successful. This has actually become a norm that keeps on repeating at every event we attend. Our guess is that it will never go out of style due to the continuous development and complexity of the sector, and the need to share our thoughts and experience to better understand what’s going on.
The topics we discussed with the event speakers have definitely taken the center of attention and they most certainly are at the heart of all strategic plans of payments and ecommerce operators for this year, so all of us should keep a close eye on them. What other topics do you have on your mind?