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A LOW-CODE LONDON MARKET – THE KEY TO INDUSTRY FUTUREPROOFING

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By Richard Farrell, Chief Innovation Officer at Netcall

 

Aged 332 years, the London Market isn’t new to the need to modernise. For many years, the insurance market has been cautious regarding change and technological advancement, whilst facing mounting pressure to radically transform and keep pace in the digital world. The pandemic, however, has amplified this need for change. Following a year of economic instability, London Market firms risk becoming obsolete if they do not take immediate and urgent action to modernise.

In September 2020, the London Market reported a half-year loss of £400m, compared with a £2.3bn profit in the first half of 2019, and expects to pay out around £5bn in COVID-related claims. With further turbulence and financial uncertainty ahead, the corporate body must keep its sights firmly set on cutting unnecessary costs and transforming internal processes to facilitate this.

Whilst throwing the sector into chaos, the pandemic was a true eye-opener for the Market. Relying on systems and processes built years ago, which were centred around people doing business in a City office, left the London Market at a crossroads and facing once-in-a-lifetime challenges and opportunities. Lockdown created an urgent need for new systems to support a new hybrid workforce, and within this need now lies the opportunity for London Market firms to rejuvenate – building greater efficiency into systems and processes to enable agility and future growth, as well as long-term digital ways of meeting and working. Intelligent automation technologies such as low-code platforms, when combined with robotic process automation (RPA) and powered by artificial intelligence (AI), will be pivotal to this transformation. With these platforms, London Market business users can collaborate and build new applications with IT teams without the need for costly and time-consuming traditional coding methods.

As a result of redesigning processes, London Market businesses can identify where efficiencies can be made and then rapidly develop optimised systems that keep both technology and people at their core. This will be crucial to achieving significant long-term cost savings and maintaining the London Market’s current position on an international level.

 

Using 2020 challenges as inspiration to evolve

The last year has seen a range of hurdles for both the London Market and individual businesses: a shift to remote working, the need to optimise costs, and the imperative to maintain status in the global order. These have not been easy, and these challenges are likely only the start of greater change that we will see in the coming months and years.

Businesses have proven in the last 12 months that they can adapt and shift when needed with the Blueprint plan, Lloyd’s of London’s ambitious plan to create the world’s most advanced insurance marketplace. Blueprint Two, which was released in November 2020 and built on March’s Blueprint One, established new ways of doing business, underpinned by the need for digital channels that enable advanced data collection and management. The right tech and tools can enable brokers, insurers and partners with delegated authorities to operate at a materially lower cost, estimated to be at least £800m as part of this evolution.

As John Neal, Lloyd’s of London CEO, states, the London Market needs to make itself ‘more relevant, more innovative and much more cost-effective’. Solutions that enable rapid digital transformation, whilst boosting efficiency and lowering costs, will be crucial to achieving this goal.

 

Future-proofing the London Market 

Due to its ease-of-use, low-code platforms can empower London Market teams to collaborate to build new applications in the fastest way possible and speed through application backlogs. Rather than taking a rip-and-replace approach to innovation, the technology can enable London Market organisations to stitch legacy systems together with new applications – effectively building upon existing investments to provide a better user and customer experience.

With the right technologies, the London Market can rapidly reduce inefficiencies by automating manual or broken processes, whilst also integrating with a number of different systems. This will enable organisations to provide a central platform that can give visibility across all parties – and in turn enable better decision-making through richer data and the use of AI.

Perhaps one of the more pressing London Market processes brought into the limelight during the pandemic has been the process of claims management – which intelligent automation solutions can help with too. With so many stakeholders involved, managing the claims lifecycle can be extremely complex, and the sheer number of claims being processed means that teams face huge pressure to provide swift service, and to keep claims pipelines moving. By consolidating data and processes under one platform, the lifecycle management can be improved to provide real-time information relating to a company’s claims exposures, including aggregates, and other elements such as supplier management. Greater visibility of these elements will, in turn, drive greater sector efficiencies.

 

Reshaping the London Market once and for all 

The next few months will bring myriad challenges and opportunities around reshaping how London Market businesses work and trade for the benefit of its clients and people. There are considerations for all organisations, including new ways of employee and trading partner engagement. A one-size-fits-all strategy simply won’t work in such a complex environment, but using the right software can unlock business benefits and growth potential for London Market firms large and small.

Fundamentally, London Market firms must invest in and prioritise the technologies that will enable their workforce to save time and drive value back to the organisation – as well as work how they want to work. Whilst the social nature of the London Market, which is largely based on personal networks, indicates a strong return to office work when lockdown restrictions are lifted, there is still likely to be some level of remote working moving forward.

Flexible and agile intelligent automation technologies can empower the London Market to join data together across numerous back-end systems to provide an easy-to-use workflow across complex process requirements. By enabling employees to make better-informed underwriting and claims decisions, based on better access to enriched information, organisations can not only drive greater efficiencies, but keep up with the demands of a digital-first future.

 

Business

THE ACCELERATION TOWARDS A MOBILE FIRST ECONOMY

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By Brad Hyett, CEO at phos

 

Over the last year, we have seen a big shift towards contactless payments. Fuelling this has of course been the coronavirus pandemic, which has made the public hesitant to handle cash due to the health concerns.

As multiple national lockdowns forced physical stores to close, and customers demanded easy, cash-free payment options, merchants had to quickly adapt. The result? An increased provision of pay and collect services.

In the UK alone, 83% of people use contactless payments according to data from the Office of National Statistics.

So it’s vital that merchants are equipped with the most efficient payment solutions, as the UK heads towards a mobile-first economy.

 

Proliferation of contactless payments

In 2020, 90% of UK card payments were contactless. This equates to an increase of 12% on the year prior, despite the total number of payments made falling by 11% from 2019 to 2020. Moreover, the affordability of smartphones has increased significantly over the last decade. And it’s estimated that 84% of UK adults now own one.

We’re Seeing merchants embrace more efficient and cost effective payment methods in response. While physical payment terminals are often too expensive for many small businesses, software point of sale, or SoftPoS, enables merchants to turn hardware that they already own – i.e. their mobile device – into a point of sale terminal.

With merchants increasingly adopting these innovative technologies, contactless payments will continue to gain popularity among the general public. In 2020, 13.7 million people in the UK either didn’t use cash at all or only used it to make a single purchase. That’s double the same figure from the previous year.

 

Changing consumer demand

Now more than ever, consumers are aware of how innovative payment solutions can add efficiency to their daily lives. As such, consumers now demand better payment services, including reduced queuing times, checkoutless stores, and bespoke loyalty schemes.

Businesses such as Mercedes offer an end-to-end digital car purchasing service, so customers can go through the whole car purchasing journey from the comfort of their own home. This includes car deliveries, financing, insurance and more.

Meanwhile, eCommerce giant Amazon has started trialling checkoutless ‘Go’ stores, speeding up the shopping experience by eliminating the queuing process altogether. The days of waiting for a table at a restaurant are also over, as more people have grown used to booking in advance.

Hence, it’s important that we empower small businesses to remain competitive and provide them with the payment solutions to meet customer demand.

 

Global transformations

The digital payments revolution isn’t slowing down anytime soon. By 2026, only 21 percent of transactions will be made using cash.

The US might have been slow out of the gate, but it’s starting to see increased adoption of mobile payments. In-store mobile payments grew by 29% in the States last year alone.

This growth was primarily fuelled by Gen Z-ers and millennials. Latest projections show that there will be 6 million new mobile wallet users by 2025, with millennials accounting for 4 million of this figure. These two generations, the former in particular, have grown up with mobile banking.

For most Gen Z-ers, their first foray into financial services was with a challenger bank like Starling or Monzo. These banks are able to offer online features such as ‘split the bill’, fee-free withdrawals abroad and much more to cater to the modern financial needs of the younger generation.

The Middle East experienced similarly sharp increases in contactless payments. From 2019 to 2020, there was a 200% growth in contactless transactions. This shift towards a mobile-first economy in the region was inevitable; the pandemic merely accelerated this shift. A recent study showed that 80% of people living in the Middle East planned to continue using contactless payments post-pandemic, with speed and security being the main draw.

 

The future is mobile

As parts of the world now start to come out of lockdown, there’s an openness to new solutions and a widespread acceptance of new technologies.

It is now a case of when, rather than if, we’ll see a permanent shift to cashless in the future. For businesses, embracing digital innovation will be key to remaining competitive and keeping pace with consumer demand in this fast-changing payments landscape.

 

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HOW MERCHANTS CAN IMPROVE THE ONLINE PAYMENTS EXPERIENCE

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By Alan Irwin, Senior Director of Product at Global Payments UK

 

The dramatic increase in online shopping over the past 18 months has encouraged many businesses to invest in developing their omnichannel shopping experiences. The reasons vary – some are keen to capitalise on the trend of older shoppers migrating towards ecommerce and some are trying to make up for loss of sales in brick-and-mortar stores during the pandemic. It is also true that many businesses are shifting their models to sell direct to consumers to avoid high marketplace fees and are therefore building their ecommerce channels for the first time.

The checkout experience is arguably the most important and delicate part of the ecommerce transaction, as it can make the difference between a happy customer likely to return, and a shopping cart abandoned out of frustration and confusion. A survey from March 2020 suggested that 88% of online shopping orders were abandoned, i.e. not converted into a purchase. A seamless, customer-centric online payment experience is therefore critically important in ensuring completed transactions. But with so many payment providers available, what should businesses be looking for when trying to keep friction to a minimum?

 

Keep clicks to a minimum

Less touchscreen interaction equals less abandonment. Adapting the payment page to fit any device and supporting popular mobile digital wallets like Google Pay ensures a seamless, stress- and hassle-free checkout experience for the customer and keeps clicks to a minimum. Friction can present itself in the most minor features – for example, when the customer is navigating the payment form, the appropriate keypad should be shown to the customer when required. It’s much easier to enter a card number using the dial pad instead of switching between QWERTY keypad layouts.

Simplifying online forms with autofill and tokenisation also significantly reduces friction at checkout and shortens necessary time taken. Ensuring checkout forms are tagged correctly for “autofill” is a great way to offer customers a single-click to input the payment, shipping, and billing data that they have stored in their browser profile. Similarly offering a guest checkout option will help convert customers who are in a hurry or looking for a one-off purchase. This can also be achieved by offering to store the payment details (called ‘tokenisation’) for express repeat and one-click purchases.

 

Make it easy to understand

A tailored payments approach can increase both domestic and international global sales. By offering a checkout experience in the customer’s language, the option to pay in their currency of choice, and use their preferred method of payment (whether it’s PayPal, Alipay or card), businesses can build loyalty quickly and put customers at ease. It is equally important for merchants to ensure they always display simple direction and information about next steps to instil confidence and prevent customer drop-off. The customer should be informed of what is happening at every stage in the process, for example, whether they will proceed to SCA (Secure Customer Authentication) next or go straight through to completion.

In addition, validating forms in real-time means merchants can highlight potential errors to the customer early on, and payment providers should provide this functionality. This could be an invalid expiry date, an incorrect digit in the card number or incorrect CVV number based on card type. When issues are only flagged at the end of the process, this forces the customer to go back through the steps to figure out the error. Real-time signposting of problems removes this potential friction and reduces the potential for a declined transaction.

 

Ensure seamless security

Merchants should work with a payment partner who offers the right blend of security and compliance management without it coming at a cost to the end-to-end checkout experience for the user. Instilling trust and security in your checkout flow while utilising the right solutions to drive seamless authentication flows will increase customer confidence and help prevent drop-off.

The greatest level of security and control comes from either utilising hosted payment fields that the
merchant can natively integrate into their checkout flow, or a hosted payment page where they can
manage the look and feel. Showcasing your brand on the checkout page with trust signals and logos also adds to building trust with the customer.

Staying ahead of regulations is also important. Secure Customer Authentication (SCA) will soon be mandatory in the UK for all eligible digital transactions, and this doesn’t have to be a friction-full process. Tools like Transaction Risk Analysis (TRA) and Exemption Optimisation Service (EOS) can quickly score transactions and drive exemptions where there is the right blend of transaction risk.

 

The devil is in the details

These three rules for successful ecommerce checkout experiences may seem straightforward, but it is important to apply them at a micro level. It can take only one minor point of friction to cause a customer to abandon their cart, and this will inevitably be replicated across other similar customers. It is critical to identify friction points early on and anticipate customer needs throughout the process. Discussing these points and any opportunities to improve customer checkout experience with your ecommerce team and payment provider is an important first step towards ensuring your entire shopping experience remains competitively seamless and loyalty is won. It may be that your payment provider cannot address them, in which case it could be time to move on in order to stay competitive.

 

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