From Africa to Europe, the Middle East and the US, the change in customer expectations is a significant global trend. Consumers are not only comparing banks with other banks; their expectations are also rapidly being shaped by technology companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Apple and other facilitators that ease their lives and give them the desired experience. And consumers and businesses are now demanding sophisticated financial products and services anytime, anywhere, using any channel.
To deliver on these new expectations requires the right type of digital capabilities behind the scenes. Technology platforms must be flexible, scalable and work end to end. Naturally, they must also be secure and work across all channels – the ones we know about today and the ones we don’t yet.
Yet banks and processors also have to balance seemingly conflicting demands. They want to cut costs and time to market, but are constrained by their legacy IT infrastructure. This is complex and costly to maintain, and it restricts their ability to innovate. Then there is the need to maintain regulatory compliance, interoperability and 24/7 operations.
Fintech start-ups are also piling on the pressure. These newer, more nimble players are not encumbered by legacy. They can adapt more easily to the demands of customers and regulators. The fintechs may not have scale today, but their technology allows them to compete strongly in the future.
The right type of technology helps businesses think as well as act differently. In this way, technology drives both a technical and a cultural mindset.
Considerations when choosing a partner
If the future of payments is to be open and collaborative, then banks and processors need to have the technology in place to capitalise on opportunities. This often means better rather than more technology.
Payment systems should allow different business models to run on the same platform. OpenWay’s WAY4 platform enables concurrent customer propositions and business models, both new and traditional. It offers a variety of credit, debit, prepaid and multi-currency services for mature customers, and supports financial inclusion use cases for those who are unbanked or new to financial products.
Loyalty, deposit, payment and non-payment services and online interoperability are musts for successful wallets. These five elements unite clients as varied as Equity Bank in Kenya, Asia Commercial Bank and SmartNet in Vietnam, B1NK and AzeriCard in Central Asia, Advanced Info Services in Thailand and many others that either create their own wallet products or use an existing wallet ecosystem on WAY4. Openway clients target both unbanked consumers and demanding tech-savvy users.
Payments live in an ecosystem. Banks and processors are increasingly having to consider how and where they operate within this wider ecosystem — and naturally with whom. Their technology should facilitate greater co-operation or competition, and sometimes both. Ideally, payments platforms should be payment-method-agnostic, open and supportive of a rich library of APIs for everything from risk management and scoring to tokenisation.
Scalability and flexibility are critical. The chosen technology platform should have the flexibility to scale up to meet business needs and the robustness to cope with sales spikes. One of Openway’s biggest clients handles up to 2,400 transactions per second with no latency. This bank has achieved 140-million active debit and credit card portfolios with variability of products and more than 40 configurable parameters for each of them.