The first quarter of 2022 came off a 2021 holiday selling season that beat forecasts and revealed foundational changes to how we live, work and pay. From back-office functions like accounting and treasury to consumer-facing digital experiences to new cross-border business-to-business (B2B) payments platforms, we’re all adjusting rapidly to another year of living digitally — and discovering new hits and misses along the way.
In our Q1 eBook, we’ve collected the insights and observations of 32 thought leaders from different parts of the payments domain to share what’s working and what needs work. The Connected Economy continued to dominate as the year began, with voice commerce finding its way into cars and smart speakers in connected homes — and the rapid progression of a world where smartphones are the new remote controls changing channels on our commercial tastes.
The triumphant rise of eCommerce in the first year of the pandemic saw an accompanying rise in cybercrime that continued into the first quarter of this year. Maddeningly, it looks as if it will persist — although recent downward trends in certain types of fraud suggest that new technologies are thwarting some of it.
Installment credit expanded its breakout from pure plays as banks and others fielded their own buy now, pay later (BNPL) plans — a form of lending that’s caught the attention of lawmakers. Embedded, contextual and social commerce garnered their share of headlines in Q1 as more brands focused on fishing where the fish are (social media), putting the right product or service directly in the social flow and creating new forms of engagement.
Cryptocurrencies have crept closer to mainstream status as more utilitarian use cases have started to emerge. And in a related space, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) continued to generate a fair share of their own headlines as consumers and companies set themselves up for the metaverse.
Treasury and accounting automation are keeping the pressure on to do away with legacy tech and take advantage of real-time data flows that make critical back-office tasks more accurate and efficient — while addressing the security challenges that working from home and hybrid work pose.
We also spent more time uncovering data on the surprising extent of paycheck-to-paycheck living in the U.S., as well as the companies innovating around that reality, from lease-to-own financing to the strategic use of personal loans for debt reduction and financial health.
Venture capital keeps investing in FinTechs that are rewiring the financial system with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, scouring oceans of data to make sub-second decisions on everything from car loans to mortgages to financing in almost every imaginable vertical.
Healthcare innovation is also storming ahead, with hospital at-home concepts and new forms of financing giving patients needed options for a delicate time in medical debt. We were still talking about supply chain in Q1, and it’s likely we still will be in Q4.
Q1 was marked by dizzying change that doesn’t show signs of letting up any time soon. So much depends on current events — from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to runaway inflation in the U.S. to the specter of another COVID-19 variant keeping us running in place — that it’s difficult to tell when we’ll all be able to pause, take a deep breath and stop casting an anxious eye toward a cloudy horizon.
But the last three months may have put us in good stead as we ready ourselves to face an uncertain future. As the payments industry veterans in this eBook note in their reflections, holding on to the good and abandoning the bad — and never settling for “good enough” — can go a long way toward helping businesses, consumers and the world at large steer a steady course.