Podcast: Kristy Duncan, CEO & Founder of Women in Payments

The Women in Payments Symposium was the first of this series to be held in the UK, it was a thought-provoking day and brought together over 200 senior executives and 35 speakers from across the world.

Kristy Duncan, CEO & Founder of Women in Payments, sat down with Adelle Grisaffe, Group Marketing Director & Producer of the Global Digital Banker Podcast to discuss the key themes, expert predictions and biggest talking points from the inaugural Women in Payments Symposium held in London last month.

Listen to this interview and the entire Global Digital Banker podcast episode for this week

Are you able to share a bit of the story behind establishing your organisation and the catalyst behind this series of events?

We started this back in 2012 in Canada and our mandate has expanded to connect, inspire and champion women across the global payments to excel in this industry. We provide a platform for them to speak, to learn and to develop their networks and to build their career profiles. It has been an awesome journey to work with women around the globe and help them expand their careers and to develop their confidence as they get up to speed, but also to be inspired by other women across the industry.

In the executive panel at the start of the day, Eimear Creavan, SVP & Head of Issuing for UK & Ireland at Mastercard said that “payments facilitate consumerism” – what was your takeaway as to what she meant by that?

I think it was an acknowledgement that payments are an essential part of any transaction, without payments we can’t do online commerce, we can’t do face to face and we can’t execute any transactions because ultimately there needs to be that last piece to tie up and finalise a transaction. We are seeing the industry looking for new ways to facilitate that payment beyond existing methods that we use on a day to day basis and I think the industry is really starting to pick up on that which is really exciting.

What shifts have you seen in terms of consumer perceptions of payments have you seen over the past 12 months?

The industry is changing so rapidly especially in the UK. This whole concept of innovation by regulation, where the regulators are pushing the industry to innovate and move towards a more open banking platform will bring new solutions to the market and new perspectives. We are starting to see the platformification of financial services and similar to the incredible innovation that Uber brought to the personal transportation market, I think we are going to start seeing similar approaches in financial services and consumers are starting to see that already. When you look at Amazon Pay, I can just stand there and say “Amazon order me some dinner this evening” and it automatically in the background facilitates the payment and makes it all happen. Consumer expectations are changing by these new technology-driven solutions that are coming to market.

How have you seen the conversation around consumer demands shift compared to similar discussions at last years’ events?

That consumers are starting and the industry is starting to move towards far more real-time and seamless ‘in the background’ types of payment solutions so that the payment isn’t even something that we think about. What I’m seeing in our events, is that the new players are bringing more approaches and solutions that change customer expectations. Amazon Pay is a great example, when you say ‘order me dinner’ that voice activation request entails a whole bunch of things, to go out to the dinner provider, arrange the delivery and to arrange for the payment in the background. It’s a multi-piece transaction that the technology facilitates so seamlessly.

On the wholesale side, we are really seeing Ripple start to move the market as well, by changing the expectations of B2B customers for their cross-border transactions. It used to take far longer and with less transparency in the transaction and I couldn’t call the bank and say where are the funds. So that transparency and seamlessness are really starting to drive the market and wholesale both as well as retail.

There was quite a bit of talk about the new technologies in the payments space including digital wallets, behavioural biometrics, AI and machine learning. Thinking particularly about those last three, what impact are these technologies going to have on the payments landscape?

I think it’s still really evolving and we have yet to see where it’s going to take us. It’s a really exciting time to be here right now but I think we can look to Asia and China, in particular at Alipay and WeChat Pay to see where we could potentially be going with these new solutions. The emerging technologies are facilitating all kinds of new things in real time and in a seamless way. If you go back to the invention of the internet, nobody could foresee at that time that the internet was going to facilitate all this new cool stuff - I mean who would have seen 20 years ago that you could do snapchat!

Also, the idea that you combine WIFI and Google Maps and then all of a sudden you’ve got an Uber arriving at your doorstep and you get in and out without actually making a payment with your hands. It’s absolutely fantastic that technology is really driving some new solutions. It is also changing paradigms, and I think the incumbents need to be very careful that they don’t take their positions in the market for granted, especially with open banking driving new platforms we really need to rethink the way that we do banking in today’s world.

What was the feedback from the audience on this? What were their biggest concerns or questions about these new regulatory changes?

I think it’s a combination of things, I think there are huge interest, huge curiosity and huge concern about maintaining current market positions so, referring to what I said earlier, it’s the incumbents that have the potential market share to lose. If we are going to a platformification of banking services, where services can be offered in a way where the whole transaction can be sliced up into multiple pieces, you then get these providers offering highly specialised and highly sophisticated solutions for one particular part of that transaction. The incumbents need to think where to play in this market and if they want to become the new platforms or if they are content to provide the pipes and plumbing in the background.

I think it’s also lovely to see how the technology can relieve us of the more mundane and administrative things in our lives. I really look forward to the day where I go online, or face to face, to buy something, and it automatically updates my financial planner app so I know exactly how much money I still have left to spend until the next paycheck.

With regards to the regulators, it’s really nice to see the increase in support and encouragement from them for technological developments and payments infrastructure. Can you share an example of a particular market that is pioneering the way for others?

I would have to say the UK market is definitely on the leading edge where the technology and innovation are going. It’s fabulous to see the UK regulators really promote that because it’s pushing the industry to be very, very innovative and it’s going to bring us interesting solutions. Again, I caution other global players because the way I see it, the global banks and fintechs working in the UK market are gearing up for this and are strategising and figuring out how and where they want to play, it’s very easy for them to start bringing those strategies to other markets and that will be really interesting once they push that out around the globe.

I think China is also pushing the boundaries, you look at Alipay and WeChat Pay and what they are doing. I think the incumbents and the rest of the world need to really take notice and perhaps up their game because there is so much value that they are adding. Obviously, not everything is going to be applicable in every market but they’re bringing in some new ways of thinking and new solutions that could be very relevant when adapted to other markets.

Listen to this interview and the entire Global Digital Banker podcast episode for this week

The Global Digital Banker is an insight-backed podcast series focused on key trends, market insights, thought leadership and best practice within the fast-growing and dynamic world of digital banking.

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