In this new financial landscape, both banks and businesses must update their technological infrastructure and product offerings to stay competitive in the digital-first era. But selecting the right technical and commercial partnerships has proven to be a challenge even for big entities delving into embedded finance and fintech collaborations.
Collaborating with specialist providers empowers businesses to enhance customer connections and provide superior services in the near future. Crucially, it also sets the stage for long-term expansion and innovation. How does this specialised approach pave the way for sustained success?
Nina Huelsken, Associate at Payments Consulting Network had a conversation with Joanne Dewar, this year’s recipient of the European Women Payments Network Payment/Fintech Leader of the Year award, who has also been recognised as Businesswoman of the Year at the 2022 UK Tech Awards and Director of the Year at UK Fintech Awards 2022, to delve into the power and possibilities of payments partnerships and other advancements in fintech.
As 2023’s Payment/Fintech Leader of the Year awardee, Joanne is a recognised thought leader and a staunch supporter of the European Fintech community. Her impactful contributions to companies, individuals and wider financial service industries makes her a consistent influencer in the discourse surrounding Payments and Fintech. She is a beacon for women in the industry and has not only revolutionised her business but also set an extraordinary benchmark for others.
NH: Please introduce yourself and explain your role in the Payment Ecosystem Disruption and Innovation.
JD: I’ve been firmly at the centre of the fintech revolution over the past decade as the former CEO of Global Processing Services, now Thredd, the payment processing technology company behind many of the greatest fintech disruptors. I have led the physical expansion to 3 continents and successfully orchestrated a $400-million investment. I now enjoy following my passions of advocating for embedding ESG, championing disability inclusion and mentoring female CEOs on their scale up journeys.
NH: Collaborations between fintech startups and established financial institutions are becoming more common. Could you share an example of a successful partnership that has enabled large corporations to provide enhanced payment solutions?
JD: The ability to embrace partnerships has genuinely been one of the secrets to the success of the fintech industry. Startups leveraged third parties to provide everything from KYC and AML to customer contact centres and core banking platforms, which enabled them to bring initial propositions to market with very little capital expenditure and lead time.
The third parties in turn were happy to white label their services, often enabled by API as there is a whole market to serve. I personally enjoyed being at the front end of the challenger bank revolution, simultaneously serving the needs of Revolut, Monzo, Starling and Curve – all different branding and imagery, but many of the same partners behind the scenes.
Partnerships between the incumbent financial institutions and fintechs is harder to execute as it is like the fabled relationship between a lion and a mouse – almost impossible to not be eaten in the process.
Large financial institution’s legal or diligence processes alone can be enough to squash a nascent fintech. However, there has been more success recently where both parties have learned to adapt to each other’s styles of working. One of the best examples has been Societe Generale’s acquisition of Treezor. By keeping the brand and management separate, it has thrived.
NH: AI and machine learning have the potential to revolutionise fraud detection and prevention. How can service providers leverage these technologies to enhance the security of payment transactions?
JD: AI is both exciting and frightening in the same breath. The dangers come from the pace of change and ubiquity of access, making it really hard for fraud detection (both the tools and consumer behaviour) to stay ahead of the ‘bad actors’.
One way I’ve seen this happening is in the use of synthetic data, such as that provided by Fin Crime Dynamics to ‘train’ AI modules to spot fraudulent transactions. Additionally, whilst most of the focus of the past decade has been in various ways eliminating friction from payments, we are now seeing the re-introduction of certain ‘are you sure?’ verifications – which seek to introduce seeds of doubt to the authenticity of the origin of payment requests.
NH: How could companies incorporate behavioural economics principles into its payment platforms to encourage responsible spending and financial well-being among users?
JD: Long gone are the days when from coveting a pair of shoes on a Tuesday night, to being able to get to the shops on a Saturday, there was effectively a 4-night cooling off window to reflect on the impulse versus need. Now, anyone can buy anything at any time with the added facilitation of instant credit – so that from idle browsing on the sofa, to clicking buy, the product can be delivered to your doorstep in 24 hours. Whilst the dopamine hit can be irresistible, it is near impossible for regulatory control. And with both the ecommerce and payments companies only incentivised for each successful transaction, I’m keen to see innovation that effectively rewards non-spend decisions.
I expect we will also see self-selecting ecommerce blocker or limiter options introduced for bank accounts which would operate in a similar way to the current gambling block toggles, enabling customers to better help themselves by introducing friction. An extension from this is leveraging the payment controls to enable those with dementia to go to the shops without risk of wild purchasing and thereby stay independent for longer, as enabled by Sibstar.
NH: As digital payments continue to rise, what are your thoughts on the future of physical cash? How do you see its role evolving over the next decade?
JD: Until there is a digital safety net so that no-one is left out, it is important that access to cash, both to withdraw and to spend, is maintained. We see in the UK that card-only parking meters are preventing some people, particularly the elderly, from driving to the shops. It’s essential to find the solution that holds neither stigma nor a cash premium and to get this balance right, it is important that decision makers are fully listening to the appropriate focus groups. Natalie Ceney is a leading light on the Access to Cash campaign.
As we look ahead, it’s clear that the future belongs to those who offer versatile, top-notch payment solutions. Companies with cutting-edge technology that not only empowers innovators to swiftly deploy and expand their payment processing capabilities, but also enable themselves to prioritise crafting exceptional products for their clients. This forward-looking approach sets the stage for a dynamic and inclusive payments landscape.
Author: Nina Huelsken, Associate, Frankfurt, Payments Consulting Network
With an impressive track record spanning over 18 years in the payments industry, Nina has held various management positions and provided board-level guidance to international financial institutions, with a focus on strategic planning and regulatory compliance.
Payments Consulting Network is a media partner of the recent EWPN Annual Event & Awards 2023.
Joanne moderated a discussion and workshop on building full inclusion into an ESG strategy.
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