As part of the 2020 Payments Barometer, we asked 800 financial decision-makers their thoughts on what drivers of change and top business priorities will most influence payment processes over the next 12 months and for the second year in a row, mobile payment technologies topped the list. The survey reveals that 65% of decision-makers recognise this as an area that will be key to maintaining competitiveness. Around two-thirds of decision-makers who see mobile payment technologies as a driver of change, expect this to impact their businesses positively. 

Back in 2019, we talked about how regulators were stepping in to drive change, with innovative payment initiatives like Open Banking and PSD2 designed to make it easier for businesses and consumers to use tablets and smartphones. Aligned to this our expectations and experiences as consumers are likely to be an influence, with the ‘consumerisation’ of business payments a trend we observed in last year’s report and one which is highlighted in 2020’s research too.

Next on the list was easier access to technology, which has jumped up the rankings from 5th to 2nd place. This is encouraging given that fieldwork for the 2020 Payments Barometer was executed before the pandemic emerged. It goes to show that the industry was embracing technology as a positive force for change, even before COVID-19. The report reveals some clues as to how companies will use digitisation to drive change.

We can expect to see an upsurge in real-time information, API-driven exchange of data, digital payments and electronic documents, such as e-invoicing.  Given the need to improve cash visibility is a year-on-year priority for financial decision-makers, it is good to see that single platform bank account access has surged as a critical priority in the next 12 months. These tools can help businesses to minimise overdrafts and maximise available returns on their surplus cash, but most importantly, they ensure funds are in the right place when needed. Undoubtedly, faster and improved oversight will free-up resource, allowing companies to focus on other new technological developments like mobile payments and real-time payments.

2019 and 2020 also presented companies with challenges around the trading environment. Amongst financial decision-makers who consider the trading environment an important influencer, 16% of them believe it will have a negative impact. The proportion is more significant amongst small business decision-makers, where 21% of small businesses think that it will have a negative impact. Volatility in the trading environment and associated stress factors are likely to impact small businesses more significantly than well-established organisations, so it’s no surprise that small businesses feel more vulnerable to disruptions in the trading environment.

This vulnerability confirms how external events – and subsequent government intervention – can negatively impact businesses. While it is difficult to make predictions during this time of unprecedented change, it’s fair to assume that changes to the trading environment will increase in importance in the 2021 Payments Barometer following the impact of COVID-19. 

Alongside this, businesses of varying sizes view the impact of regulatory commitments differently. This year’s report reveals that 14% of decision-makers in large enterprises who consider regulation an important influencer think it will negatively impact their business, compared to only 9% and 11% of decision-makers in small businesses and mid-sized corporates respectively. 

Given this has been in the top 3 for drivers of change and top business priorities since the start of the Payments Barometer in 2016, it highlights that payments solution providers should be able to offer sound expertise and innovative technology to guide companies in understanding and implementing new or changing regulations. Leveraging technology to ensure your business can adapt and respond to evolving demands is crucial, whether those demands are driven by regulation, beating the fraudsters, increasing consumerisation, or overcoming significant events such as Brexit and COVID-19.

Looking forward, businesses most able to embrace digitisation, personalise customer experiences, and adopt technology that understands user behaviour and engages intelligently with its customers will be in a strong position for the future.

To read the full article Drivers of Change and Top Business Priorities, and find out what other results this year’s survey reveals, download the full 2020 Business Payments Barometer.

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Posted by Ed Adshead-Grant

Ed Adshead-Grant is an experienced Fintech expert in the Global Payments and Cash Management industry, driving secure business payment solutions in ACH, Card, SWIFT, Faster Payments, Blockchain, Cyber Fraud & Risk Management and more.