For a while now, there has been a clear link between fintech and retail. Retailers understand that aside from all the logistics that come before a customer arrives in their store, the payments side is one of the most important parts of the consumer experience.
For years, fintech companies have been working hard on building better, more seamless payment solutions, and with widespread digital acceleration, retail and fintech are more interconnected than ever.
One of the reasons why the gap between fintech and retail has been closing fast is down to a simple case of customer behavior. Customers today expect fast and seamless experiences with brands, whether it’s in-store or online.
Rising customer expectations towards the payment experience
According to the 2021 US Payment Trends Study, 85% of online shoppers would abandon their purchase if the checkout process took too long.
There are four primary reasons that consumers will abandon a cart while shopping online:
- Being forced to create an account with the retailer to check out (42%)
- A checkout page that doesn’t include shipping costs (42%)
- Being asked to visit another page for authentication purposes (34%)
- Checkout pages that aren’t optimized for mobile usage (27%)
The take-home message? Consumers want (and expect) a seamless, fast experience with zero hiccups. This means that retailers need to think smart about how they process payments on their websites.
We discussed the connection between fintech and retail with Andrea Tassistro, Founder an CEO at Foodetective, and Romain Colnet, Innovation Business Development Manager at Worldline Global.
Foodetective is a Swiss-based, cloud-based, multi-channel commerce platform for medium to large-sized food and beverage businesses. The platform allows businesses to design, set up, and manage their businesses across the web and mobile. Businesses can manage delivery, bookings, accounting, catering, HR, payroll, and brick-and-mortar locations, all from a single interface and app.
Worldline is the largest European player in payment services and the fourth largest player worldwide. Worldline provides its clients with sustainable, trusted, and secure solutions across the payment value chain.
They offer best-in-class payment services ranging from POS, online payments, and omnichannel solutions to issuing and acquiring and digital banking to nearly 1 million merchants and 1,200 banks and financial institutions. With 20,000 employees and powered by the dedication of some of the brightest talents in the payments industry, Worldline is shaping new ways of paying, living, and doing business.
This is what we learned from these experts representing different industries that are so closely connected.
Unified commerce as an answer to fragmentation
In a world with so much fragmentation, any kind of system that unites multiple tools is a great solution for businesses and customers.
Unified commerce is a method of centralizing data you’ve collected about customers and products onto one single platform. This enables the platform to more easily interconnect different tools to help both businesses and consumers alike.
“Unified commerce is absolutely primordial. We are living in a world where there is too much fragmentation and having a system that unifies all tools and operations will help companies better manage their business from a 360 point of view,” says Andrea.
The problem is that in the world of traditional payments, companies have been reluctant to work with data, let alone share it. However, Romain believes that this is the future. Sharing and collecting data will be necessary for companies to provide a seamless customer experience.
One thing that’s important not to overlook is trust. Payments are all about trust in the end. Customers need to trust that their payments are handled securely and effectively. A seamless experience is one thing, but trust must be there also.
“The connection of payments and customers’ data is about trust. A successful payment is a trustful payment,”
asserts Romain Colnet.
Why we need to unify payments data and tools
Combining the payments world with wider fintech and retail industries is no easy feat. There are so many players and different digitized systems.
Having multiple options for payment and other financial apps can be a good thing. A little healthy competition helps to raise standards. The problem is that it’s become a confusing industry where there are so many unconnected dots.
Who’s left to connect them all? The customer.
Over the past few years, fintech companies have started to work on solutions that combine multiple tools. However, as Romain explains, the one which aggregates these apps “cannot be the one who builds the payment system end-to-end at the same time. Unless you're a magician — because you cannot focus on both of these.”
There was no real platform that did payment plus automation or payment plus unification until PPAAS. Ingenico is building this hardware-agnostic payment platform as a service. It is cloud-based, so empowers its ecosystem of clients and partners to offer their merchant customers state-of-the-art payment and commerce solutions available anytime, anywhere.
A potential solution to foster the ecosystem could be some mergers and acquisitions, but partnerships are key to bringing such systems and capabilities to life.
“The payment sector has lots of legacy systems. The Innovation Labs follows the open innovation model to look for expertise outside of the organization,”
The role of regulation in innovation
With the complex world of finance, naturally comes the topic of regulation. Financial services are heavily regulated and for good reason. What does this mean for new fintech companies trying to unify services or build innovative new solutions?
Generally, legacy companies would rather not take risks in building new and inventive things in fintech. Newer startups, on the other hand, are more than willing to take on that risk and build something new.
Andrea believes the solution lies in proactivity. If you are proactive and work with regulators rather than waiting for them to knock on your door, it’s less likely to be a surprise or disruptive to your business.
For example, Zilch, the UK-based buy now, pay later company, has the competitive advantage of being Financial Conduct Authorization accredited. Zilch made it a priority to get FCA-accredited because they were proactive in working with regulators and knew that customers would appreciate that security.
Romain points out that to be innovative, you’ve got to push the boundaries. In the end, it’s the customers’ acceptance and behavior that come first. This then drives acceptance by governments and regulators. If governments see everyone doing one thing, it’s hard to fight against the tide.
Innovation in the future of payments
With so much innovation in this space right now, what’s next for the future?
Andrea believes that fintech builders will focus on unified API payment systems. We’ve seen companies like Primer and Checkout.com already offering a seamless experience where you connect to one single system.
“To me the only exciting fintech solutions are unified API payment systems and infrastructures,”
“Recently, we've seen companies like Primer or Checkout.com that offer a seamless experience in the payment space, where you connect to one single system, and you can complete a checkout automatically through any payment provider. It enables companies to offer the end-user any kind of system they want to use to pay and, at the same time, connect this checkout system to any bank, or any depository monetary institution.”
An example of a solution that connects an online service with a payment process is the Foodetecrive app.
Through the app, users can order food or beverages, request catering, or book a table at their favorite restaurant and pay for each of these services in-app.
Another area that Andrea is interested in is end-to-end data analysis. If this is built into the system, you can analyze what was purchased, when, and at what price.
“If you build enough granularity of your data, to understand all of this in the systems, then it means you can automate pretty much anything from procurement to payment.”
Or maybe the payments revolution
On Romain’s side, he highlights the revolution happening in the buy now, pay later space: “With Buy Now, Pay Later, there’s clearly a huge revolution happening. It was a €100 billion market in 2020, more or less 2–3% of the world’s payments.”
In 2024, these payment methods are expected to make up one-third of the world’s payments in-store, and 50% of online payments.
Other things worth paying close attention to are cryptocurrencies and anything to do with invisible payments.
“We are working on, for example, invisible payments — voice payments, vein payments. We are also working on face payments, but this is hardly accepted yet,” shares Romain.
Overall, the belief is that built-in payments are only going to make our lives easier. Andrea explains how six years ago, things looked very different.
“Even six years ago, when you had to go to a bank, put your card, put your pin, take out the cash, and pay with it, get the money back."
“Tomorrow is just going to be like pushing a button.”
Andrea believes that more innovations and combined solutions are going to make a much easier world for retailers, fintech builders, and the customers that rely on them to make payments. This is what we hope for.