More and more, new payments initiatives and regulations continue to come into enforcement, making it more important than ever to stay on top of the changing payments landscape. Most recently, the Anti-Money Laundering Directive 5 (AML5) launched in January 2020. However, in the latest Payments Barometer, we see that preparedness for some initiatives has dropped over time. Of those surveyed, just over half (55%) report that their businesses feel prepared for ISO20022.

This lack of preparedness represents a drop of 9% from last year (64%). It’s a similar picture for Open Banking, where 59% of decision-makers tell us their businesses are ready – down 8% from 2019 (67%). When we break this down by business size (see below), it becomes clear that large corporates and enterprise organisations are better prepared for incoming regulations, which is reflective of their ability to own change and leverage their dedicated compliance teams.

This lack of preparation raises the question: what is causing this inaction amongst businesses?

Are businesses feeling some fatigue following a prolonged period of intense regulation? With five new initiatives introduced since 2018, companies are likely to feel the pressure and are unsure where to focus attention. Add to this; the industry is forging ahead with next-generation initiatives like Open Banking 2.0 or ‘open finance’. These initiatives are focused not only on fostering a competitive payments environment where we see providers collaborate and integrate, but also on improving the customer experience and the way customers engage with their technology. There is much for businesses to consider and take advantage of with these new industry initiatives.

Is it also plausible that shifting delays are one of the main drivers for inertia amongst businesses not adhering to set deadline dates? Payment initiatives like ISO20022, PSD2, Confirmation of Payee, Request to Pay and the New Payment Architecture (NPA) have all seen delays to launch dates, providing businesses with an excuse not to prepare proactively and adhere to payment changes until it becomes necessary. This shifting ground is reflected in attitudes, with 40% of financial decision-makers saying the reason they feel unprepared, is that ‘there is no urgency’ to get ready for an initiative like ISO20022. In fact, compliance has significantly dropped down the agenda with only 8% of decision-makers rating it a top priority for their business when it comes to payments over the next 12 months (compared to 15% in 2019).

There may also be a perception that regulators need to show more strength. In 2019, the Treasury Committee stated that “To ensure accountability for failures, regulators must have teeth and be seen to have teeth.”5 With the Treasury Committee hinting at a lack of faith within the industry, perhaps this is why businesses feel they do not need to act proactively? There is an opportunity here to communicate the benefits and possibilities of payments regulations and initiatives, thereby encouraging companies to act. This guidance is particularly essential when almost 1 in 2 (47%) decision-makers say the reason they feel unprepared for regulations like Open Banking or PSD2 is that they don’t know what the benefits are.

More extensive support and education around the benefits or necessity of many of these initiatives are needed. Based on what we’ve seen in the Payments Barometer, information currently available amongst industry players is not reaching businesses as effectively as it could or should. There is an opportunity for banks and technology solution providers to fill this void and support businesses of all sizes in understanding new regulations and what action they need to take. This information is vital to ensure companies see not only the benefits of these new regulations but also the role they can play in delivering longer-term transformation to the industry.

Full Report

To access the full results of this year’s fraud and security findings, and hear from experts on additional payments topics, download the full “2020 Business Payments Barometer.

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Posted by Gareth Priest

Gareth Priest, CPO for Bottomline Technologies, has over 20 years of experience as a product innovator in the world of Financial Technology. With a track record of building products that have helped the Financial Services market address opportunities in Digital Banking, Customer Engagement, Real-Time Payments & Payments Innovation across North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific.