The PYMNTS team caught up with experts in the payments field to ask them their views on industry trends, predictions for the coming year and what their ideal payments system looks like.
Paul Thomalla, Managing Director EMEA & SVP for ACI Worldwide, spoke to us about trends in payments, how those trends will evolve over the next five years and how payments standards are still regionalized and not viewed at on a global level — at least in 2015.
Below are excerpts from our conversation.
PYMNTS: What are the themes in payments for 2015 and what are some of the challenges?
PT: I think the themes are easy. The challenges are quite regional-specific. The themes are immediate or real-time payments ... blockchain — everyone is talking about blockchain, whether they understand it or not. And the third one is about APIs and trying to get the glue together. I think they are the key areas in 2015.
Generally, what people forget is: The reason that so many people have gone to immediate payments has very little to do with the business case, per se, of the bank right now. It's generally about regulating because it's good for the country or good for the region, and there's a lot of rationale for taking all of the costs out.
In the U.S., it's more about a commercial free spirit ... which I don't think needs swift change. Therefore, around the world you see a digital have and a digital have not.
I don't think you're going to get [an international] standardization anytime soon, so banks will want to move more quickly in regions. And then technology will glue it all together, and I think people will move quickly.
PYMNTS: What does the future look like for payments?
In 2020 ... I think you'll see immediate payments just about everywhere in the world. I think by then you will not see the silos that we have. Right now, we have cash, debit, credit, ACH [etc.]. You've got to believe by 2020 people will be saying "why? All I'm doing is moving value from A to B. Why do I need all these silos?" They will all [move] to immediate rails and that will save the banks fortunes. It will save the retailers fortunes.
Right now payments is so old-fashioned we think of it as a thing in its own right. Whereas in 2020, we'll probably not think about payments per se, it will be invisible. ... If you think about payments as sort of like a loyalty program, I think that's more the way it's going to feel. There won't be a conscious act. ... It will be transparent. We won't see it. And I think from a retailer's point of view, or a service provider's point of view, that will be a good thing.