How the Shift in Consumer Expectations is Driving Payment Innovation

Mark Healy, Managing Director Australia & New Zealand Global Payments Inc [NYSE: GPN]

Mark Healy, Managing Director Australia & New Zealand Global Payments Inc [NYSE: GPN]

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the payments industry, like so many others, is facing an extraordinary level of disruption as the forces of economic and technological change drive an unprecedented shift in consumer expectations.

While these shifting expectations are the great challenge of our time, I am confident we have the capacity to rise up and meet them.

I realised some time ago in order to thrive in this environment it would require us to embrace a relentless approach to cultural and organisational change. It is an approach that is already earning us results in the market.

There are some wonderful payments companies in Australia innovating developing exciting new products and services, from wearables to bill payment, to cross-border payments. All of us are ultimately aiming to innovate around the end user experience. While I have seen firsthand how the payments industry has reached a new level of maturity over recent years, I remain totally cognisant of the incredible level of change at both the micro and macro level we are still to face.

The changes in recent times have been seismic. As high-quality, user-friendly, app-based services become more ubiquitous, consumers are becoming more demanding of the businesses that provide them with goods and services.

The ticketing and check-in process for a domestic flight is just one example of the change I am referring to.

It wasn’t that long ago that a flight from Sydney to Melbourne required a paper ticket, which was exchanged for a boarding pass at the airport and manually inspected at the gate. Advances in recent years mean the entire process of buying a ticket, checking-in and boarding can be done with just a few taps of your mobile. While there are always exceptions, overwhelmingly the process is simple, efficient and extremely user-friendly.

This seamless user experience has seen Uber dominate the ride-sharing industry and MailChimp dominate marketing automation. Google has grown into one of the biggest companies in the world on the simple premise of providing a clean, simple search function.

The challenge I see for us as a technology provider is that this level of user experience is no longer the gold standard. It’s simply the standard.

Consumers now expect all their interactions with providers of goods and services to be fast, seamless, rich and fulfilling experiences.

The challenge is building the organisational capacity to meet these high expectations. Many long standing businesses are not digitally native from the ground up and it’s especially hard when running legacy systems, platforms or applications.

It has become clear that if you can’t offer a streamlined experience to a business or end consumer that is fulfilling, rich and fast, then you’re in trouble. We’re all benchmarked now against the Uber experience.

So, how can an organisation meet these challenges?

Assess your risk and execute a well-planned strategy

To be successful in this new paradigm you need to have a greater appetite for risk. Combined with that, you need to have the ability to continuously refine your strategy to be attuned to changing market dynamics. You have got to be very focused on opportunities and have a much stronger risk appetite to take advantage of them.

In technology-centric companies, there has been a definite movement away from multiple management levels, hierarchy and functionally driven structures to informal structures based on cross functional teams, collaboration and connectivity across vertical-based silos.

Hierarchical, vertical command and control-based structures can no longer execute around strategy that demands a nimble and flexible approach and where people need to coalesce and execute around new ideas.

Change your style of decision-making

Locally, we are trying to connect teams directly to customers, devolve decision-making and empower teams to rapidly deliver solutions to our customers’ problems. Structural and management delays prevent companies from being nimble in the market, which often means they are either missing or not taking advantage of opportunities.

To support this structural shift, your organisational values need to be risk tolerant, more action-orientated and more decentralised.

Shorten your delivery times

For payments businesses, there is a push to driving agile methods of software delivery, with a focus on reducing cycle time.

It’s about connecting teams to real customers, understanding problems and opportunities in clear terms, and then giving those teams empowerment to deliver value in small increments with fast feedback loops. Customer value needs to be delivered in days and weeks, not months and years.

Use technology to streamline processes

To support the type of delivery required for a changing consumer, internal organisational processes need to be consistent, easily understood, scalable and digitally-enabled.

The rapid improvement in artificial intelligence and automation is making this much easier by lowering costs, reducing manual errors, reducing hand-offs and making those processes scalable. This in effect is supporting, with digital process management, the digital experience that you’re delivering to your customers.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the organisational and cultural changes we are making to help meet the challenges created by the increasingly high expectations of our customers.

Our challenges are not unique, every business is affected by changing consumer trends. We should see these changes not as a threat, but as an opportunity to adapt, change and continuously reinvent ourselves.



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