How are customers shaping the future of payments?

8 Sep 2021

Last week we wrapped up The Hub Series 2021 with our third and final session ‘How are customers shaping the future of payments?’, which focused on the end users of payments.  

Our speakers for the session were international keynote and global thought leader in the field of customer experience, Steven Van Belleghem. This was followed by a panel of payment experts: Gerard Creamer (Head of Payments, Trade Me), Ollie Hitchcock (Head of NZ, Klarna), Amrit Chaitanya (Head of Market Development – New Zealand, Wpay), Lucy Jezard (Head of Issuing, Mastercard New Zealand) which was facilitated by Rose-Marie Nathan. 

The session covered a range of aspects on the topic from what businesses are seeing in terms of customer trends and demands, to how these forces are shaping which opportunities the payments industry should be focusing on next.  

The session was packed with thought-provoking ideas and, as with our previous sessions, we’ve picked out some key insights for you below. 

If you couldn’t make the live session, you can now also watch the full video recording

Session 3 highlights

The day after tomorrow 

Steven Van Belleghem kicked off his keynote by talking about what he thought would shape the future of customer experience. He’s spent the last few years inspiring businesses to spend 10% of their time thinking about the “day after tomorrow” when trying to come up with an offer customers can’t refuse. Then the pandemic accelerated that timeline. It was like we all stepped into a time machine and arrived straight at the day after tomorrow. He said 2020 was the year of the biggest digital training course in human history, with humanity creating new habits and behaviours which happened almost overnight.  

Steven cited some research from McKinsey which said the pandemic had propelled a seven-year jump into the future in 12 months. In the first eight weeks of lockdown in the US, e-commerce grew more in that period than the decade before that, and the system was able to adapt and didn’t collapse. This led to a new kind of customer expectation, which is customer first without compromise. And as the world becomes more digital, customers are expecting more human empathy and kindness and for organisations to be part of the solution to global social issues.  

Become a friction hunter 

Today we live in a world of zero tolerance for digital inconvenience. Digital is now a minimum demand and digital convenience is a commodity. Steven said businesses should be looking at the frictions that can be removed to make the customer journey even smoother. He gave the example of Amazon GO stores, which have reduced the number of steps a customer needed to take to pay in store to zero. He said Amazon has made it their mission to obsessively focus on and remove every single possible friction.  

In the panel discussion, Mastercard’s Lucy Jezard said although frictionless payments are obviously an important aim, a little bit of friction can sometimes be a good thing in some use cases, especially when it comes to the safety and security of customer data. Personally, she said, she would rather take an extra step in the payments process if she knew that would ensure she received top level security.

Be the oxpecker, not the fly 

If you want to make a difference in the market, then you need to think about becoming a partner in life, said Steven. That meant offering a broader sense of service to customers and having a sense of social responsibility, thus adding value to society. Be the oxpecker on the back of the rhino, which adds value at exactly the right moment, warning the rhino of danger, and is never intrusive. Don’t be the fly on the back of the cow – always around, always annoying, and not adding any value.  

Trade Me’s Gerard Creamer said the industry needed to think quite hard about how different payment pieces play together. Customer experiences needed to be seamless not only when making purchases, but also if something went wrong e.g. having to give refunds. There was a lot of spaghetti behind the scenes, so businesses needed to plan it so customers wouldn’t see the spaghetti, just the end result.

Innovation and disruption are still buzzwords 

Klarna’s Ollie Hitchcock said brands need to try and do more to retain customers. Customers are increasingly expecting brands to address social and environmental issues, and not just offer products or services. Klarna has also seen a strong move away from credit based products and he said 80% of Klarna payments in Australia are tied to debit cards. What customers wanted were innovative products that allowed them to shop anywhere on their own terms, he said.  

Wpay’s Amrit Chaitanya said payments combined with digital, convenience and frictionless was what would serve the customer of the future. Amrit said there was disruption happening in the market, starting with people participating in the API economy through frameworks and ecosystems like Payments NZ’s API Centre. Fintech providers were coming through with non-traditional payment choices, Buy Now Pay Later was really starting to disrupt, and in particular with Gen Z who had an absolute aversion to credit. Pockets of disruption and innovation were happening, he said, perhaps not in a consistent fashion but certainly within parts of the market. 

And that’s a wrap for The Hub Series 2021 

Our Chief Executive, Steve Wiggins, wrapped up the session with some final thoughts on The Hub Series 2021. Steve reflected on how the series had brought the world of payments to us during a time of limited international travel. Through our speakers, we were still able to traverse countries and continents from Australia, the UK, Europe, the US, Asia and of course, New Zealand. 

We had 660 people registered for the series which ran over four months. Steve said he was pleased we were able to bring together such breadth and diversity of perspectives, opinions, and expertise.  

Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to The Hub Series 2021 including all our speakers, panellists and sponsors. We look forward to bringing you more great industry focused events in 2022.