Technology is unlocking bold new possibilities in the payments industry
Today, transactions can settle instantly across borders. Tracking provides transparency through the entire payments journey. And real-time notifications ensure predictability for both sender and receiver.
“If you think about Uber and its ability to mash up different API’s from across different industries to create entirely new business models, you are seeing the same thing starting to happen in banking,” says Craig Young, SWIFT’s Chief Information Officer. “The technology to get to where we are has really shaped exponentially over the past few years, and that has provided much capability.”
SWIFT in collaboration with Financial News convened a panel of banking and technology executives from Google, Microsoft, BNY Mellon and nanopay at Sibos in London to explore the technologies that are having the greatest impact. They highlighted three, in particular, that are bringing about fundamental changes to cross-border payments.
Application programming interfaces, or APIs, create a way for different computer systems to talk to each other, facilitating easier exchange of information. That in turn allows organisations to quickly layer on new features and services.
“It is no secret that regulators around the world are mandating banks to open APIs, and so we have seen a massive demand for API infrastructure,” says David Andrzejek, API Ecosystems, Google. “But I think banks are starting to look beyond just what the demands for the regulators are and see that they could actually build new channels and be able to evolve the client experience much faster.”
By providing access to nearly unlimited hardware capacity – and the ability to scale up and down as needed – cloud computing has allowed banks to create new capabilities faster than ever. It has also powered fintechs that are making their mark on the payments industry, as well.
“We are from a small company and I’ll tell you, cloud gives you huge advantages,” says Laurence Cooke, CEO of nanopay. “Something like three quarters of small companies fail because they are scaled too early. You don’t have that problem when you do everything in the cloud.”
While still in its early days compared to the other technologies, artificial intelligence is creating significant potential to improve everything from cybersecurity to fraud detection to cash flow projections.
“You see different use cases depending on where you sit in the ecosystem,” says Christian Sarafidis, Chief Business Officer for Worldwide Financial Services at Microsoft. “If you are a bank, you want to optimise the financial crime processes by reducing, for example, the number of false positives. … If you are a corporate treasurer, you want to do cash flow forecasting because you want to reduce the FX impact and improve your liquidity processes.”
While these technologies are facilitating rapid change today, panelists had little doubt that others will eventually take the spotlight. The key to staying ahead, they say, is keeping focus on customer needs.
“Technology is rapidly evolving and what is today might change tomorrow and may evolve to something else in the next five to ten years,” says Saket Sharma, Chief Information Officer for Treasury Services Technology at BNY Mellon. “Probably we will be talking about some other transformational technology in the next five or ten years here at Sibos. So in my view, organisations have to start thinking what are the core capabilities that you want to build and offer to your customers to help them in their journeys — and how those core capabilities could be offered through various channels as technology evolves.”