In the words of Audrey Hepburn, “Paris is always a good idea,” and for two days a year FinTechs from all around the world flood into the historic city, filling it with a new, futuristic view of life in the world of payments.
Now in its fifth year, the Paris FinTech Forum 2020 is one of the world’s biggest FinTech conferences. Paris FinTech Forum CEO Laurent Nizri brought together the greatest minds and highest level decision makers to make things happen. With over 300 CEO speakers spread across 5 stages over the two days, key issues at the heart of both general digital finance and FinTech were explored.
Change is coming
There are numerous factors that make up a great shopping experience, one of them being the payment. The underlying topic of change was ever-present at the event, both on what needs to to happen, and its impact in the market. Here’s what captured our attention:
1. Embedded payments
Non-financial sectors are developing innovative digital technology, such as gift cards. Some players are using it to differentiate themselves from their opposition to attract merchants who see the benefits of customer loyalty and rewards in a difficult economic environment.
In the age of immediacy, consumers are always seeking quick, hassle-free shopping experiences, with as little friction as possible. This has resulted in an increasing number of small/medium businesses looking at new digital solutions that will not only make transactions as quick and easy as possible, but also allow them to increase sales, obtain new customers and reduce their overall costs.
Great progress has been made in reducing basket drop-off online, but that hasn’t fully translated to the in-store environment. For example, embedded payments can be transparent so the consumer never leaves the checkout or payment page. In the physical environment, payment will tend to be blended with a value-added experience, such as the ability to arrange for delivery of an item that has different specifications than what is available in-store, such as the color or size of a blouse.
The challenge for acquirers is to diversify from the core acquiring business, and find the right strategies to work with a multitude of software companies that will help them deliver a more frictionless and smooth merchant-to-consumer experience.
2. Acquiring and Crypto
An interesting subject at the event this year was the impact of digital currencies, most commonly known as cryptocurrencies, on the future of payments.
Digital currencies work on blockchain technology. Blockchain-based transactions represent a great opportunity for merchants and acquirers alike. In addition to being much cheaper than traditional payment rails, these provide a further element of security for merchants because transactions cannot be faked and chargebacks cannot be forced.
Until now, many projects have been talked about, yet no major impact has been noticed in the merchant world. But, noted in a panel discussion titled “digital assets are exploding”, it is clear that we can expect major impacts on the future of payments flow. Concerns regarding private companies launching digital currencies have led the European Central Bank to take a more active role in crypto, thus encouraging the payments ecosystem to do the same.
Today, the use and applications of digital currencies are diverse, such as in trading and wealth management. Financial organizations are finding their role in this transformational technology, with many recognizing the benefit of cryptocurrencies as a convenient and fast payment system to send money internationally, and as an opportunity to provide instant payment systems.
It seems as though it’s time for acquirers to take a closer look at cryptocurrencies, consider and explore new business models that will allow them to enable their merchants to accept it this upcoming payment method.
Paris FinTech Forum 2020 in short
As the forum closes for another year, we fondly look back on what was a truly remarkable event. As the forum continues to grow, so too does its importance in the FinTech calendar. With more than 75 countries represented, the event demonstrated the importance of, and the worldwide commitment to improving, FinTech and payments.
Until next year, Paris. Au Revoir!