Partnering to Scale and Succeed
By Matthias Setzer, CCO, PayU
2018 has been a huge year for partnerships across the payments industry. We’ve seen e-commerce giants like Walmart partnering with payments titans like PayPal, and Swedish payments start up Klarna raising $20 million from global fashion retailer H&M. These partnerships have one common goal: to fight for a bigger share of the wallet.
To form the most successful partnerships though, companies must approach with a rational and considered mindset, starting by identifying the key players that they need to collaborate with. The most profitable partnerships will recognise and capitalise on each other’s strengths to deliver industry leading market offerings.
The changing face of e-commerce
E-commerce across sectors is in the midst of a revolution. The widespread global adoption of online devices means that technology is permeating every aspect of any digital shopping or purchasing experience, creating a host of challenges and opportunities for consumers and merchants alike.
Data collected from those online devices is used by merchants to tailor respective shopping experiences, from the very first targeted ad, to the payment transaction and delivery method. When considering that, according to PwC’s 2018 Global Consumer Insights Survey, social networks ranked number one for finding inspiration for purchases, it is fair to say that consumer experience and the projection of a company’s online brand has never been so important. If businesses are to succeed in the digital era, leaders must ensure that their consumer offering is of a consistently high quality, globally competitive and as hassle free as possible. Adobe’s eConsultancy Study shows that merchants recognise this, with 54% considering customer experience to be their most important focus.
The importance of collaborative partnerships for scalability
One fundamental pillar that is integral to positive customer experience, and consequently merchant success, is the payment infrastructure. Consumers have become accustomed to an ‘always-on’ lifestyle where connectivity and convenience are no longer considered luxuries, but essentials. This ‘always-on’ attitude manifests itself through the expectation for instantaneous service and transactions. This is especially prominent in the e-commerce sector where consumers are able to access services at any time on their smartphone, expecting the same quality of service every time they do. They expect the service at any time, and it needs to be seamless, secure and processed with their locally preferred and habituated payment methods.
The e-commerce market is not one that merchants can afford to ignore. Statista’s research shows that in 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 2.3 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 4.88 trillion US dollars in 2021. Merchants need a payment infrastructure that is capable of scaling in line with this rapid growth and are increasingly turning to more deeply integrated partnerships with payment providers to ensure they deliver the speed that consumers are looking for.
Astute leadership teams will forge partnerships that place technological innovation at the very heart of a combined business model, allowing them to become market leaders through a combination of reputation built on heritage and new business models that fully capitalise on the benefits of technology.
Modern day payments platforms are increasingly designed with the technology, speed and architecture that merchants need to compete. This will be particularly relevant as they open up into new markets which bring with them an increase in user demand and the associated additional complexities. Partnering with payments providers to build these platforms that scale with growth, maintaining speed and functionality, will be critical for any merchants looking to expand across borders and into new markets.
The consumer benefits
Partnerships between merchants and payment service providers can have huge benefits to the end user. Firstly, and perhaps most noticeably, will be an improved user experience. More sophisticated and modern payment infrastructure will contribute to a fast, frictionless transaction experience. Better connectivity will make international payments seamless.
Secondly, as payment service providers are duty bound to adhere to stringent regulation around data safeguarding, a consistently high quality of security is guaranteed. This leaves the consumer safe in the knowledge that their personal payment details are well protected against fraud and breaches. On top of the pure payments data, data can be shared to facilitate a seamless experience or allow for advanced payment methods like credit. A consumer needs to be safe and assured that his or her data is staying safe and will only be used for the purpose at hand.
Lastly, by partnering with a global payment service provider, it is likely that merchants will be able to offer international consumers a payment method tailored to their local market. By offering this level of interoperability between global transactions and local market nuances, merchants will capture the entire market potential. For example, in Brazil as much as 70% of local payments are made by card payments with instalments and almost a quarter of online payments are made with Boleto Bancario, a cash payment method. If they fail to offer local payment processes, merchants could miss out on significant opportunities to increase revenue.
Creating walled gardens
While the impact of these partnerships is predominantly positive for consumers, as with any innovation or large partnerships, we must not overlook potential downsides. Online devices are generating more and more data that retailers can use to hyper-personalise product offering. As retailers and other large platforms expand to offer a huge range of products and services, allowing customers to consume, buy or enjoy almost anything, there is a real danger that we see the creation of a walled garden.
These all-encompassing models only work if they can capture a majority share of the consumer’s time, money and attention. It is easy to predict that partnerships will become more exclusive, providing certain services only to a specific platform or retailer in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. This may ultimately limit consumer choice, compared to a fully open and interoperable internet.
It’s clear to see that partnerships between merchants or platforms and payment service providers will become an increasingly prevalent trend across the payment landscape. In particular, we are likely to see smaller, more technologically innovative players being acquired and used by their partners to get ahead in the increasingly competitive market landscape.
Partnerships can be unpredictable and challenging, but one thing is for certain, they hold unparalleled opportunity for innovation. Even more so than in 2018, we can expect to see partnerships being formed in 2019 that are bigger, more exclusive and of a higher investment value.
Budgeting the unknown, forecasting the uncertain
Tarka Duhalde, Vice President, Financial Controller, IRIS Software Group
Volatility and uncertainty are still looming large. In late March the Bank of England raised interest rates from 4% to 4.25%. While many think interest rates will peak at 4.5% in Summer 2023, no one knows for sure. Likewise, no one knows what the price of fuel or the price of energy will be in six months, despite the UK not falling into a recession, as announced by the Chancellor in his Spring Budget.
Nevertheless, the high level of uncertainty will not disappear overnight, making the tasks of budgeting and forecasting even more difficult than they normally are, as there are simply so many unknown quantities at play. However, senior business leadership are continuously looking to their finance team for clarity – often asking them to generate accurate forecasts at a faster pace. In many ways, this request makes sense. After all, in a climate of uncertainty, who doesn’t want visibility?
However, generating multiple forecasts can put a lot of pressure on already-overworked finance teams. What’s more, when it comes to budgeting and forecasting, speed and accuracy can be at odds with each other. Too often, finance teams feel they have to choose between turning around an accurate forecast at a slower pace or a less accurate forecast at a quicker pace. Obviously, neither option is ideal.
That said, hope is not lost. If the right tools are in place, it is possible to turn around accurate forecasts at a rapid pace.
Eliminate guesswork and assumptions
Businesses and finance teams should want their forecasts to be as close to reality as possible. Yes, forecasts are about predicting the future, but they’re not magic, they’re science.
There are many ways to generate an accurate forecast, but the first step should always include cutting out wishful thinking, guesswork, and assumptions. If this isn’t done, businesses run the risk of inaccuracies. The ‘single truth’ is the goal and a wildly conservative forecast is just as incorrect as a wildly optimistic forecast.
Instead of relying on wishful thinking, guesswork, and assumptions, finance teams and businesses should base their forecasting on robust quantitative and qualitative techniques, including strong research, reliable data, and facts. As well as assessing the accuracy of previous budgets and forecasts, looking at the business’ historical data, checking the latest industry analysis, and seeing how the competition is doing. All of this will help get forecasts as close to reality as possible.
Embrace artificial intelligence
In addition, businesses should consider investing in automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning as the right tools will be less error-prone than humans. On top of this, they can help with eliminating conscious and unconscious bias and will spot data patterns finance teams cannot. They can also vastly reduce cycle times – freeing up team members’ time to focus on adding strategic value.
It is crucial to remember, the aim is not to replace employees with AI tools, rather the ultimate goal is for AI to work with people – helping to optimise the budgeting and forecasting process.
What’s more, the tools are only going to get more sophisticated as time goes on. Businesses and finance teams should seriously consider getting ahead of the curve and adopt these technologies sooner rather than later.
Adopt rolling forecasts
Instead of finance teams just generating a yearly static budget, they should also look to adopt rolling forecasts – ideally revisiting and reforecasting on a quarterly or even monthly basis. This will maximise visibility, giving leaders the crucial insight into how the business is performing in real time or near-real time, allowing more informed business decisions to be made. Especially in more uncertain times, it’s important to stay agile and rolling forecasts can facilitate this.
Whilst static budgets have their place, they cannot adapt to change. For example, if shortly after generating a budget, the business loses a major client or the wider economy takes a turn for the worse, the budget will already be out of date. However, rolling forecasts can adapt to change. In this way, they are more accurate and, by extension, more useful than static budgets.
Once a business is up and running, rolling forecasts can be highly efficient. What’s more, if AI and automation have already been embraced, there won’t be a need to sacrifice accuracy for speed.
If businesses and finance teams want to generate accurate budgets and forecasts during these uncertain times, they will need the right tools, the right strategy, and the right mindset. For maximum visibility, casting aside assumptions, embracing automation, and adopting rolling forecasts are three great places to start.
5 Often-Overlooked Investment Options To Consider Exploring In 2023
When choosing what to invest in, many people will initially focus on the stock market which is considered a more mainstream investment. However, investments are more than stocks, and there is a wide range of alternative investments you can add to your portfolio to not only add growth to your long-term returns but also to spread the risk. If you’re looking to diversify your investments or if you simply want to get started with something different, this guide will cover the overlooked investment options that you should consider in 2023. From investing in EIS schemes and commercial property to commodities and collectables, there is plenty to discover.
One of the first on our list of overlooked investments is EIS investment opportunities, one of many flagship policies developed by the UK government to support early-stage companies. With an EIS investment, you would be helping to support businesses in exchange for various tax reliefs. Depending on your circumstances, this could include 30% income tax relief, tax-free gains, CGT deferral, loss relief, or inheritance tax relief. To understand more about investing in EIS schemes and their benefits, head over to Oxford Capital, to learn more.
When property developers are looking to finance new commercial or residential projects, they typically do so with property bonds. These bonds are used to raise capital for the projects from investors and typically last for a fixed term, between two and five years. This form of investment is attractive due to the higher interest rates, ranging from 4% to 15%, offered in comparison to traditional government bonds, which generally perform at under 4%.
While there is a risk that the project could be abandoned due to external factors such as a rise in material costs, disruptions to supply, and a lack of finances, if the project goes to plan, you will see a return of your original investment as well as any interest accumulated. However, you can also opt to receive the interest payments monthly, quarterly, or annually throughout the course of the project, in which case, at the end of the project, your original investment will be returned with any leftover interest that has not yet been paid.
The term commodity encompasses a variety of physical investments you can make. Unlike traditional investments such as stocks, bonds, or funds, these investments have both a use-value and an exchange value. This is because when you invest in commodities, you gain ownership over a small amount of the resource you are investing in. As there is always a need for physical goods, these commodities are an excellent way to diversify your investment portfolio and hedge against inflation, market changes, and the depreciating value of different currencies.
Some of the most common commodities you can invest in include:
- Agricultural products.
- Crude oil.
- Precious metals.
- Diamonds and other precious stones.
- Spices, sugar, and salt.
When looking into properties to invest in, many people choose residential options as they can renovate and sell or rent these homes. However, as the property market can be particularly volatile, a great option when you want to invest in properties is to look to commercial options instead. When it comes to commercial property, there are many ways you can invest, and these include:
- Direct investment:This means buying a share or all of a property, which can then be rented out to businesses.
- Direct commercial property funds:Often referred to as bricks-and-mortar funds, this is the most popular way to invest in commercial property. With this fund, you invest into a scheme that invests directly into an existing portfolio of commercial properties, which pays out the interest of your investment monthly, quarterly, or annually.
- Indirect property funds:Similar to the direct commercial property fund, with this fund, you would invest in a collective investment scheme that invests in the shares of property companies in the stock market.
Peer-to-peer lending is a risky venture where you would invest directly into start-up enterprises in order to help them get off the ground. It’s an excellent way to help small business owners get going with their dreams while also creating a lucrative investment. When you choose peer-to-peer lending, you loan the start-up a specific amount with the promise to pay back with interest. You can determine a timeline for this, or you can also choose to have the interest paid back monthly, quarterly, or annually.
However, as already mentioned, peer-to-peer lending is a risky venture, as the company you invest in could fail, and in that case, they would default on your loan. With this in mind, before you choose peer-to-peer lending, you should always thoroughly research the start-up’s fundamentals first, as this will give you a better insight into the viability of the business.
Efficient Ways Construction Firms Can Bring Down Costs In 2023
Consistent, high-quality construction projects being underway is often a sign of a thriving economy. The future of the US is...
How to identify the signs that your IT department need restructuring
Eric Lefebvre, Chief Technology Officer at Sovos For firms to execute transformations and meet their overall vision, it is...
Top banking trends of 2023 and global outlook of banking and fintech for the year ahead
Author: Professor Marco Mongiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor, The University of Law Business School You’d be forgiven for assuming that the...
Sustainable transformation in the energy sector: econnext AG focuses on scale-ups
Scale-ups rather than start-ups: scaling market-ready technologies and companies for a sustainable transformation of the energy and technology sectors Profitable...
Budgeting the unknown, forecasting the uncertain
Tarka Duhalde, Vice President, Financial Controller, IRIS Software Group Volatility and uncertainty are still looming large. In late March...
Building resilience: How to create stability during uncertain times.
Jim Wilkinson, CEO of Zuto We live in uncertain times. Businesses have faced one challenge after another, and we’ve...
The need for simpler cross-border payments must be a priority for all banks
Mushegh Tovmasyan – Founder of Zenus Bank Despite the transformative changes we have seen in the banking sector over...
How app usage can help brands increase their online revenues and customer retention
Arunabh Madhur, Regional VP & Head Business EMEA at SHAREit Group Brands are continuing to invest heavily in the...
Will ‘Britcoin’ change the way we bank?
The Treasury and Bank of England recently announced a state-backed digital pound is likely to be launched in the UK...
In-Store, Online & In-App – Unifying Payment Authentication
Michel Roig, President of Payment and Access, Fingerprints Often, new technologies are lauded as the death of existing ones....
Why the future is phygital
By Eric Megret-Dorne, Head of Card Issuance Services and Service Operations at Giesecke + Devrient Digital banking has become...
Why Keeping Track of Cash Is Key to Economic Survival
By Joshua May, Consulting Manager EMEA, BlackLine Finance and Accounting (F&A) has always had a reputation for its calm...
Does the middle market have a financial edge?
Ilija Ugrinic, Commercial Solutions Director at Proactis Companies tend to look up the ladder when searching for ways to...
Hybrid Intelligence – The only way to face the problems of the future
Author: Prof. Dr. Iris Lorscheid, Vice-Rector Research and Professor of Digital Business and Data Science Computer Science at the University...
Consumer demand driving sustainable payments
Jenn Markey, VP Payments & Identity, Entrust Sustainability is a buzzword that seems to be at the forefront of...
Adyen drives conversion uplift with advanced authentication solution
The company’s expanded authentication offering optimizes authorization, security, and end revenue Adyen (AMS: ADYEN), the global financial technology platform...
It’s time for financial institutions to take personalization seriously
David Hetling, Global Marketing Director, Financial Services, RWS Financial institutions will always play a critical role in society, offering...
The Future of Capital Markets: Democratisation of Retail Investing
Nicky Maan, CEO of Spectrum Markets Over the past decades, global capital markets have undergone tremendous changes. There have...
5 Often-Overlooked Investment Options To Consider Exploring In 2023
When choosing what to invest in, many people will initially focus on the stock market which is considered a more...
New Open Banking platform Archie waves a timely hello to Britain’s beleaguered businesses
Archie is a game-changing payments and data platform that’s inherently human in its approach; a refreshing proposition in the jargon-heavy...