In a recent announcement GXS highlighted the reasons behind our new membership to the National Automated Clearing House Association’s Global Payment Forum. Last week, I attended the 2013 forum in Vienna, alongside other senior executives from global payments stakeholders; Banks, ACHs, national associations and technology vendors. Here are the highlights of my GXS waltz in Vienna:
The Role of Banks and the Future of Payments. The Viennese waltz was opened by Elizabeth Lumley from Finextra, who set the scene around the true role of Banks in the payments value chain. Reading from sheet music she commented that the payments industry tends to forget the true nature of a payments instrument, as opposed to pre-paid or stored cards or mobile applications. Whether payments innovation is taking place for consumers or corporates, Banks are ultimately holding funds and regulated to provide a safe business to their client.
The Speed of Payments – Real-Time and What it Means for Corporates and Consumers. Comparable to eating a slice of the famous Viennese sachertorte, the next highlight of the Forum was a series of presentations and a panel discussion led by domestic and cross-border Clearing Houses from all corners of the globe. On the one hand, some regions are already offering real-time payments for business and consumer customers; however each model operates differently and was designed for a different market need. On the other hand, some consumers or businesses have not expressed a need to accelerate the payment time-frames of their current domestic instruments. The whole discussion becomes focused on local pride and history if looked at country by country.
Virtual Currency – Can Bitcoin Operate Within the Legitimacy of the Financial World? I was unfamiliar with the BitCoin opera, until the Maestros, musicians and singers – Trace Mayer, Pierre Noizat and Gabriel Sukenik presented an executive summary of this new technology, its current use cases for Payments, as well as expanding on what it would mean for businesses and consumers. BitCoin is currently part of the financial world, both as a payment instrument and as a currency. It is quite unregulated, subject to volatility of the markets, but is increasingly popular and adopted for initiating or receiving payment across borders.
Roundtable Discussion: Cross-border Payments. This was one of my favourite waltzes of the Forum; an open discussion about the current issues around cross-border payments, on a global scale. The key remarks were first and foremost around the issue of lack of end-to-end visibility from a payer/payee perspective. The next issue was around the distributed ownership of the payment instructions and physical funds as they flow through the various segments, countries, jurisdictions and correspondents, and finally about the early cut-off times imposed on clients to provide predictable timelines when the funds are applied on the ultimate creditor and debtor. SEPA is one example where a level of common scheme rules and domestic laws allow cross-border payments in a fairly predictable manner. On the other hand, the biggest barrier- from a bank perspective is to keep a comprehensive working knowledge of each domestic rules, laws and reach agreements.
Many more dances at the ball captured my attention, but this blog would be pages longer if I detailed them all here! However, they included: SEPA – The Real Deal; Payment Trends from Around the Globe – Myth vs. Reality; Cyber Security; Mobile Payments – What is Real and What is Hype.
To conclude, the biggest benefit for me was to capture the current industry trends from the payment experts, in order to feed client discussions with current and accurate information. If you too would like to waltz with GXS, I would welcome the opportunity to expand on any of the topics in my blog and to further some of the discussions points of the NACHA GPF.