By Michael Lane, Vice President – Sales, Token
Open Banking is taking off, with payments leading the charge.
The Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) recorded nearly 625,000 additional payments in January 2022 compared with December 2021. HMRC’s incorporation of a ‘Pay by bank’ option into the self-assessment process was a significant development – a seal of approval by the tax authority that helped propel the total number of Open Banking payments to 3.86 million.
Open Banking payments are fast and secure, with no cards and no data entry. They’re the future. This year, I’d like to see the industry shift from conversations about ‘use cases’ toward talking about Open Banking payments as simply a way to pay. Hopefully, the way to pay, which will start to erode the dominant market share of cards and mainstream wallets.
On the right trajectory
Having worked in the payments industry for two decades, I’ve seen many different payment methods rise and fall. But they generally all follow the same trajectory.
There are the early adopters, always hungry to find new ways for customers to pay. It’s the iGaming, FX and – most recently – Crypto verticals. If you consider the original shape of PSD2 – single, immediate payments – it’s only logical that loading a wallet or account were an obvious fit.
After a new payment method conquers these early pioneers, they migrate to traditional e-commerce. And, because refund capabilities are beginning to become available through regulation and innovation, that’s where Open Banking payments are headed next.
We’re seeing major payment gateways being asked by their customers for Open Banking payments. This is when we’ll start to see the big boom: account-to-account (A2A) payments on hundreds of thousands of e-commerce websites across the UK and Europe.
Then what’s next? Customer present, that’s what!
QR codes for payments, in store payments, links generated by customer service staff and sent to the customer’s mobile, and – of course – NFC (near field communication) payments.
QR codes are particularly interesting. Who would have thought this would be a likely way to pay in the UK and Europe a few years ago, but the attitude has now changed due to the pandemic. Many restaurants, for example, now prefer you to peruse a digital menu accessed via a QR code. Using WeChat and Alipay’s success in China as a yardstick, there’s definitely potential for merchants to use QR codes on terminals or tablets to accept Open Banking payments.
Lining up for the final strike
When it comes to e-commerce, it’s the e-tailers that really have the power to propel Open Banking payments into the mainstream. There are household names like Amazon, but each country also has its stars – think Tesco, Argos and Sainsburys in the UK.
The question is: when will they adopt? First, they need to be confident in three things – stability, user experience and conversion.
In the early days of Open Banking, stability was the first pin the industry had to knock down. Thanks to advances in APIs, we’re now virtually assured of the stability of Open Banking connections in the majority of Europe. When a consumer initiates a payment, it doesn’t time out or break. It simply works. So we’ve ticked that first box.
Let’s say a customer needs to be exposed to a new payment method three times before they ‘switch’ to it. Think of it as a 1-2-3 approach, where the third time’s the charm. Of course, a large e-tailer would prefer to let customers encounter 1 and 2 with other shops. And this illustrates the importance of the entire Open Banking industry working together to drive mass adoption – getting Open Banking payments on as many checkouts as possible is crucial.
In terms of delivering the best user experience, we need to move further beyond single, immediate payments. For A2A payments to capture a portion of cards’ share of checkout, they need to be moved behind ‘Buy Now’ buttons. As a consumer, once you’ve used that single-click checkout button, irrelevant of the payment mechanism behind it, you won’t want to go back to a checkout experience with the merest hint of friction.
Variable Recurring Payments (VRP) capabilities can power this switch. From July 2022, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will mandate sweeping services by the largest UK current account providers. But I’d like to see faster progress. We have to open up what’s allowed under VRPs from its current, somewhat limited, scope.
We need all the banks to offer it. And we need all Third Party Providers (TPPs) to offer it to their payment service users. We need to work out competitive pricing and agreements on who’s liable if something goes wrong. These are all things that card schemes worked out over decades, but we need to do this within the next 12-18 months.
And then last, but by no means least: conversion. It’s important to all merchants, but especially to the largest e-tailers. A single fraction of a percentage of movement costs or benefits them to the tune of tens or hundreds of thousands of Pounds or Euros. Once Open Banking payments have permeated checkouts and recurring payments are in place, conversion rates will naturally rise.
The final pins are being knocked down, and the big e-tailers are starting to come to the party. Time to forget about use cases and let’s just talk payments!
Wealth Managers and the Future of Trust: Insights from CFA Institute’s 2022 Investor Trust Study
Author: Rhodri Preece, CFA, Senior Head of Research, CFA Institute
Corporate responsibility is more important than ever. Today, many investors expect more than just profit from their financial decisions; they want easy access to financial products and to be able to express personal values through their investments. Crucial to meeting these new investor expectations is trust in the financial services providers that enable investors to build wealth and realise personal goals. Trust is the bedrock of client relationships and investor confidence.
The 2022 CFA Institute Investor Trust Study – the fifth in a biennial series – found that trust levels in financial services among retail and institutional investors have reached an all-time high. Reflecting the views of 3,588 retail investors and 976 institutional investors across 15 markets globally, the report is a barometer of sentiment and an encouraging indicator of the trust gains in financial services.
Wealth managers may want to know how this trust can be cultivated, and how they can enhance it within their own organisations. I outline three key trends that will shape the future of client trust.
THE RISE OF ESG
ESG metrics have risen to prominence in recent years, as investors increasingly look at environmental, social and governance factors when assessing risks and opportunities. These metrics have an impact on investor confidence and their propensity to invest; we find that among retail investors, 31% expect ESG investing to result in higher risk-adjusted returns, while 44% are primarily motivated to invest in ESG strategies because they want to express personal values or invest in companies that have a positive impact on society or the environment.
The Trust Study shows us that ESG is stimulating confidence more broadly. Of those surveyed, 78% of institutional investors said the growth of ESG strategies had improved their trust in financial services. 100% of this group expressed an interest in ESG investing strategies, as did 77% of retail investors.
There are also different priorities within ESG strategies, and our study found a clear divide between which issues were top of mind for retail investors compared to institutional investors. Retail investors were more focused on investments that tackled climate change and clean energy use, while institutional investors placed a greater focus on data protection and privacy, and sustainable supply chain management.
What is clear is that the rise of ESG investing is building trust and creating opportunities for new products.
TECHNOLOGY MULTIPLIES TRUST
Technology has the power to democratise finance. In financial services, technological developments have lowered costs and increased access to markets, thereby levelling the playing field. Allowing easy monitoring of investments, digital platforms and apps are empowering more people than ever to engage in investing. For wealth managers, these digital advancements mean an opportunity for improved connection and communication with investors, a strategy that also enhances trust.
The study shows us that the benefits of technology are being felt, with 50% of retail investors and 87% of institutional investors expressing that increased use of technology increases trust in their financial advisers and asset managers, respectively. Technology is also leading to enhanced transparency, with the majority of retail and institutional investors believing that their adviser or investment firms are very transparent.
It’s worth acknowledging here that a taste for technology-based investing varies across age groups. More than 70% of millennials expressed a preference for technology tools to help navigate their investment strategy over a human advisor. Of the over-65s surveyed, however, just 30% expressed the same choice.
THE PULL OF PERSONALISATION
How does an investor’s personal connection to their investments manifest? There are two primary ways. The first is to have an adviser who understands you personally, the second is to have investments that achieve your personal objectives and resonate with what you value.
Among retail investors surveyed for the study, 78% expressed a desire for personalised products or services to help them meet their investing needs. Of these, 68% said they’d pay higher fees for this service.
So, what does personalisation actually look like? The study identifies the top three products of interest among retail investors. They are: direct indexing (investment indexes that are tailored to specific needs); impact funds (those that allow investors to pursue strategies designed to achieve specific real-world outcomes); and personalised research (customised for each investor).
When it comes to this last product, it’s worth noting that choosing advisors with shared values is also becoming more significant. Three-quarters of respondents to the survey said having an adviser that shares one’s values is at least somewhat important to them. Another way a personal connection with clients can be established is through a strong brand, and the proportion of retail investors favouring a brand they can trust over individuals they can count on continues to grow; it reached 55% in the 2022 survey, up from 51% in 2020 and 33% in 2016.
TRUST IN THE FUTURE
As the pressure on corporations to demonstrate their trustworthiness increases, investors will also look to financial services to bolster trust. Wealth managers that embrace ESG issues and preferences, enhanced technology tools, and personalisation, can demonstrate their value and build durable client relationships over market cycles.
2022 ESG Investment Trends
Jay Mukhey, Senior Director, ESG at Finastra
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) themes have been front and center throughout the pandemic. While the framework has been surging in popularity for several years, COVID-19 served as a period of reflection causing many companies, investors and other individuals to take these factors seriously. It’s something that we can no longer afford to ignore.
We are witnessing drought, adverse weather patterns, hotter climates, and wildfires with more regularity, raising the profile of the climate crisis. Efforts were renewed at COP26 in Glasgow last November to help address the challenge, with the signing of the Glasgow Climate Pact and agreement of the Paris Rulebook. As a result, we are now seeing record net new inflows into ESG investing and impact.
Evaluating ESG criteria
Long gone are the days when ESG issues were at the periphery of a company’s operations. In just a few short years, ESG criteria have become a key metric for investors to evaluate businesses they are considering investing in.
Investor money has poured into funds that consider environmental, social and governance issues. Data from the US SIF Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment shows that ESG funds under management have now reached more than $16.6 trillion. It’s not just institutional investors who are embracing ESG, with Bloomberg Intelligence predicting that savers across the world will amass £30.2 trillion in ESG funds by the end of the year.
Due to the multitude of divergent factors that contribute to a company’s success on ESG, it can be tricky to pin down exactly what criteria to measure. Depending on the industry a company operates within, environmental criteria could include everything from energy usage, the disposal of waste and even the treatment of animals.
Social criteria are primarily related to how a company conducts itself in business relationships and with stakeholders. For example, does it treat suppliers fairly? Is the local community considered when the business makes decisions that would impact them? Do they have a statement and policy around modern slavery?
While governance criteria have traditionally been an afterthought, this may be changing. Everything from executive pay to shareholder rights and internal controls are relevant to investors within these criteria.
Tracking ESG for competitive advantage
Many experts within the financial services industry point to the power of ESG as a major competitive advantage, if used correctly. It has been noted that increasingly corporations, from big Fortune 500 companies down to small scale-ups, will communicate on their sustainability metrics to grow their business and to attract talent. However, it’s no longer enough to just pay lip service to ESG issues, with abstract commitments increasingly being seen as insufficient. Companies must now quickly progress to concrete objectives that can be measured and tracked.
A wide range of data providers now offer detailed information and tools that can measure ESG performance and effectiveness. Yet major challenges remain around bringing together what is often extremely fragmented data and transforming it into actionable insights.
Focus areas for 2022
The ESG criteria that investors measure is by no means stagnant. Complex societal challenges regularly emerge that require the attention of companies. Contributors recognize several topics that demand a sophisticated approach, including the COVID pandemic, diversity challenges and powerful social movements.
Companies operating within the financial services sector face several specific challenges related to ESG, with contributors believing that fintech will also continue to play a central role in finding answers to them.
For example, industry experts expect customers to be more demanding of firms in SME lending when it comes to understanding exactly what impact they are having on the climate. For many financial services firms, 2022 will be the year that they will try to reduce the time it takes to bring ESG products and services to market, such as green loans and mortgages, as well as checking accounts with sustainability and carbon tracking capabilities.
When selecting a service provider, customers are increasingly interested in the ESG credentials of their bank or financial institution. Research from PwC finds that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that stands up for environmental and governance issues. Consumers are one of the main drivers of ESG and many are putting their money where their mouth is. It’s a trend that’s not going away; financial institutions need to start implementing their strategy for ESG now.
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