Ronnie Millar, CEO at Paysend, looks at the top 3 payments trends to keep an eye on next year
Technological advancement and increasingly savvy consumers are fairly long-standing factors in the evolution of payments. These factors, however, have been supercharged through the Covid-19 pandemic causing a rapid evolution in the digital payments space in the past 12 months. Coupled with this, the market for cross-border payments is growing, with total global cross-border payment flows estimated to be up by around 5% year-on-year, according to consulting firm EY, with the total value of cross-border payments suggested to reach $156 trillion by 2022.
Against this backdrop, here are the main trends I’ll be watching closely in 2022:
1.Frictionless, embedded payments will pick up pace
Frictionless and embedded payments are now expected by consumers. They are seeking simple, low-cost payment solutions and, as a result, cross-border transaction margins will continue to be compressed in 2022. Driven by consumer demand for alternative credit and lending options, Buy Now Pay Later models will experience further growth as the line blurs between financial services providers and merchants, and we see the proliferation of embedded finance.
Already, many companies are white labeling their infrastructure to offer embedded finance, but this will become commoditized. To remain competitive, players who rely on embedded finance as a revenue stream will need to curate unique value-add experiences for customers.
As Open Banking continues to mature across more markets, it is playing a key role in facilitating frictionless payments and enabling customers to move money internationally at speed and low-cost, whilst removing the administrative burden of traditional bank transfers. Greater insight into transaction data is also driving this trend as consumers increasingly look to improve their financial choices when managing money.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) payments will continue to grow, reflecting the major shifts in payments behavior of declining cash usage and greater adoption of instant payments, as consumers seek real-time solutions not offered by traditional financial institutions. Having reduced pre-pandemic, the volume of personal remittances reached $647 billion in 2020, according to the World Bank. By the end of 2022, however, this figure is likely to have risen by 2.6 per cent.
Lastly, the hyper-localization of payments will help create local experiences for customers transacting internationally and enable them to transfer money however they want, regardless of location. For example, payment solutions that allow international merchants to accept local payment methods make it easier for customers to buy cross border. Conversely, solutions that allow customers to pay with their preferred local method, even internationally, will also better meet their needs.
2.Financial inclusion and access to useful and affordable payments products
In 2022, B2B propositions will continue to be a significant focus for many financial services organizations, who are either adapting their B2C offerings or creating new offerings for SMEs of all sizes, often overlooked by traditional incumbents.
There is particular interest in facilitating international remittances for import and export companies, payroll management, invoicing and digital reconciliation. These services can make a significant impact for small businesses or gig economy workers who can benefit from accessing their pay instantly, instead of needing to wait several business days for the transactions to settle.
Just-in-time funding will be a strong differentiator as companies develop solutions to fund accounts in real-time after a transaction. Although this service is still relatively nascent, it solves a common customer pain point and will likely become a more common practice in the future.
More broadly, the international payments market today remains expensive and inefficient for a significant proportion of users, with high barriers to entry for many people. To enable financial inclusion on a global scale, there will, and should be, growing demand for payments services that are accessible to all in both cost and processing time. Platforms that can offer individuals painless access to the global financial network to send money to family, friends or businesses across the world are likely to see significant growth in the coming years.
3.Crypto will continue to gain greater mainstream traction
The use of digital currencies skyrocketed during 2021, along with the blockchain technologies that underpin them – this trend will continue next year. Additionally, the crypto and blockchain sector has attracted nearly $19.4 billion in venture investment globally since 2017, with over 40% of that figure ($8.6 billion) coming in 2021, according to Crunchbase.
In the past year, big players such as PayPal and AMC started accepting digital currencies, while increased institutional adoption of crypto assets by companies like Tesla, as well as broader acceptance among traditional financial institutions is helping to improve legitimacy. As more merchants both large and small start to accept cryptocurrency as a payment method, we are also seeing a rise in innovation in crypto wallets and their associated infrastructure..
Stablecoins and Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) are also gaining momentum as players seek to hedge against volatility when entering into decentralized cryptocurrency transactions. Meanwhile, Decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications, typically enabled by smart contracts, are fulfilling traditional financial transactions without the need for intermediaries. By extension, there is greater focus on the infrastructure that is required to drive adoption across both consumer and business platforms.
Despite this momentum, there are several challenges ahead for the crypto industry – and regulation is perhaps looming largest. As with many disruptive technologies, lawmaking is playing catch up and global conversations around how to make cryptocurrencies more secure for investors and less attractive to malicious actors are still ongoing. China has taken a strong stance, announcing in September that any crypto-related activity in the country would be illegal. Clear regulation will be vital to the success of the crypto industry, and largely welcomed by investors and service providers alike.
In the fast-paced digital payments market, players have had to be nimble and adapt quickly, especially amid the changes Covid-19 brought to the sector. While banks have historically been at the centre of global payments transactions, there is now a clear movement away from this traditional model towards digital payments solutions, driven by rapidly evolving technological innovation and growing consumer preferences towards flexibility, efficiency, and affordability.
The payments space is becoming increasingly competitive as a result. The door is now open for companies that can offer consumers alternative, more affordable and scalable solutions. I would expect to see significant growth in how these alternative solutions are utilised by consumers, both those who use traditional services and those previously unable to access them, as we look ahead to a world with increasing financial inclusion next year and beyond.
About the author
Ronnie Millar is a co-founder and CEO of PaySend. Ronnie is a serial entrepreneur, having co-founded and run a number of companies including Paywizard and MGt Plc. He comes from an accountancy and investment background and was formerly Finance Director for Argent Group Plc.
Paysend is a next generation integrated global payment ecosystem, enabling consumers and businesses to pay and send money online anywhere, anyhow and in any currency. Paysend currently supports a cross-network operability globally across Mastercard, Visa, China UnionPay and local ACH and payment schemes, providing over 40 payment methods for online SMEs. Paysend can send money to 135 countries worldwide and has attracted more than five million consumers to its platform.
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