Payment professionals ‘excited by, but wary of technology’

US payment professionals recognise the benefits of payment technologies now entering the marketplace, but concerns about cost and compatibility may delay their implementation, according to a newly-released study.

Financial services group Capital One and the National Association of Purchasing Card Professionals (NAPCP) surveyed 136 payment professionals from 21 sectors in North America. The resulting study, entitled ‘Managing Payment Technology Innovation’, found that survey respondents appreciated the heightened security, streamlined operations, enhanced analytics, lower costs, and, in some cases, additional revenue to be gained from these technologies.

However, respondents identified three major barriers to implementation: insufficient information to make an informed cost-benefit analysis; insufficient leadership commitment; and lack of knowledge about sophisticated and cutting-edge payment technologies such as blockchain and tokenisation.

“Given the rapid pace of innovation we’ve witnessed in our industry, there is a lot for payment professionals to digest,” said NAPCP managing director Diane McGuire. More than 78% of respondents reported that their organisations send professionals to industry events and conferences, and more than 55% said their organisations send professionals to continuing education conferences.

The study also found that payments providers could also play a role in education. “There’s a real thirst for knowledge and a real opportunity for payments vendors to recast themselves as partners, providing ongoing support to organizations trying to make sense of new payment technologies,” said Rajsaday Dutt, head of commercial card product strategy at Capital One.

The findings suggest that payments providers should emphasise the user experience in the design of their products. Some other approaches that providers could build into their products to facilitate implementation and ease of use include application program interfaces (APIs) for easy plug-and-play, human-centred design, and natural language search.

The study found that acceptance of specific payment technologies varies considerably. Survey results suggest that one reason electronic payment options (ePayables) and Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) chip technology are so well accepted is that commercial payment professionals understand their benefits and applications.

For instance, all respondents could identify at least one advantage of ePayables, and almost 40% of them have adopted it with a further 20% considering it. By contrast, unfamiliarity with blockchain and tokenisation is an impediment to their adoption. Just 13.1% are aware of tokenisation, and only two respondents say their organisations had implemented tokens.

Providing education and easier-to-use products is especially critical because organisations themselves often do not have the resources to explore payment alternatives. Only 8% of respondents said their organisations support technology pilot programmes, only 10.2% reported that they allocate funds for investigating new payment technologies, and just 22.8% said they have a cross-functional committee that monitors the new technologies. “The study revealed that there is a vacuum that associations and payment providers like us can fill,” said Dutt.

Additional findings

The size of an organisation affects its rationale for adopting new payment technologies:

  • Professionals from organisations with revenues over US$2bn value the financial benefits of new payments technologies, such as reducing total process costs and providing working capital.
  • Organisations with revenues of US$500m to US$1.9bn are drawn to their process advantages, such as providing administrative efficiency, automating the accounts payable/accounts receivable AP/AR processes, and providing enhanced backend/post-transaction analytics.

The ePayables adopters in the survey identified four principal arguments for implementation:

  • Simplify payment demand (73.3%)
  • Earn revenue share and/or rewards (68.4%)
  • Reduce process costs (55.3%)
  • Increase security and controls (44.4%)

 

 

 

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