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Charting the course for success: Tips for an innovative 2019 payments strategy

The payments landscape has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Once seen as a mere extension of the IT department, forward-thinking payments leaders have realised that a smooth payments experience can be the key to maximising sales conversion and driving revenue growth.

Fintech networkNo longer is the payments function considered a cost centre – instead, it is viewed as a competitive differentiator and a new generation of payments managers are taking an active part in the strategic management of their businesses – writes Yuval Ziv, CCO of SafeCharge.

With alternative payment methods (notably WeChat Pay and Alipay) taking centre stage, as well as new regulations such as PSD2 and SCA bringing a disruptive element to the table, the industry is at an inflection point. Now more than ever, payments managers are in a position to demand more from their payments infrastructure, for greater flexibility and faster innovation.

Invest in your relationships

Payment processing is a mission critical capability which must operate in a 24/7 error-free environment. By operating across different geographies, payments managers often have to rely on a number of different acquirers to guarantee full redundancy. In this scenario, having a single payments provider who can offer a wide connection to local acquirers is recommended, as it provides contingency coverage and at the same time, obviates the need to manage multiple partners.

Payments managers also need to build strong relationships with a trusted partner, who has the ability to understand local consumer behaviour and preferences, local payment trends (e.g. changes in regulations) and characteristics of different verticals. A close cooperation will not only ensure consistency – particularly around the need to resolve disputes or preparing reconciliations – but also drive the business forward.

Listen to the market and embrace technology innovation

Although it’s important to keep abreast of the latest technology developments, it is vital not to jump on to every technological bandwagon, striking a good balance between “mission critical” versus “nice-to-have”. Keeping aware of consumer behaviour still remains the deciding factor and one of the reason fuelling innovation.

This is most recently the case of QR code-based payment methods, which are already the first choice for tech-savvy Chinese shoppers. WeChat Pay and Alipay being a prime example, they enable consumers to enjoy a frictionless tap-as-you go shopping experience, without the need of a credit card. With the popularity of QR payments showing no signs of abating, payment managers must turn their attention to cutting down time-to-market and integrating a solution that would support this trend, ultimately driving revenue and reducing time-to-implementation to stay ahead of the curve.

Remain compliant

Keeping customers safe when they shop has become one of the cornerstones of the PSD2; the regulation is introducing a variety of changes that merchants will have to abide to, spanning across Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), account access, licensing of marketplaces and surcharging. Merchants are adapting to this transition phase and are currently looking for a solution that will help them not only remain compliant to meet the highest security standards, but also innovate to enter the next phase of e-commerce.

With e-commerce becoming the most preferred way for people shop, it has become increasingly important for merchants to provide smarter and more effective way of ensuring customer authentication. 3D Secure 2.0 (3DS2) – the new standard introduced by EMVCo and the major credit card schemes – is now paving the way for PSD2 compliance, requiring merchants to possess the right technology to help customers complete their purchase.

Implementing the right tools to handle 3DS2 and cleverly manage SCA exceptions to guarantee the safest customer experience, payments managers will be able to focus their attention to business growth.

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