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Three Important Trends to Watch in Retail Payments

The industry is turning profitable and is focusing on growth

Despite the occasional announcements of layoffs there appears to be a change in direction.  There is general agreement in the industry that financial are “lean” and they have cut as far as they can without severely impacting operations.  Financial institutions are looking to grow their top line and expand their operating margins.  As we all know there are only a few ways that retail banks can make money and with rates near rock bottom, many have started to focus on value added payment services which consumers are willing to pay for.  In the US a recent FDIC report showed that banks made $40.3B in 2013 Q1. Elsewhere in the world HSBC posted a 95% rise in profits and Commenwealth Bank of Australia posted considerable gains over Q1 of 2012.

NFC enabled mobile payment systems

It’s here. It’s gone. It’s back.  And repeat. A very true cycle of the NFC story which has been repeated a few times.  With the impending liability shift and migration to EMV technology some of the more forward thinking retailers seem to be taking this opportunity to ensure that they have the hardware and infrastructure in place to accept contact EMV cards, contactless (NFC) EMV cards and EMV mobile.  The concept of a Trusted Service Manager (TSM) for NFC enabled mobile payments is gaining significant traction.  Additionally, many industry watchers are excited about the patent granted to Apple in early June for a “System and method for simplified data transfer” which relies on NFC technology and could be used for making payments.  NFC, is definitely back and this time all signs are that it is here to stay and make small incremental gains in the marketplace.

Elimination of manual processes

At first glance you may think that this is slightly at odds with the “focus on growth” trend the elimination of manual processes doesn’t mean the elimination of people. In fact it can help improve productivity of employees and the quality of their output.  Recent data released by CEB TowerGroup indicates that “more than 70% of financial services processes still require manual intervention.”  Espousing the benefits of automation they follow up with a key stat that elimination manual processes can help reduce costs by 51%. A good example of this would be the dispute management resolution process which, today, is a highly manual effort that is in dire need of automating.

These were my three key trends, out of the many identified.  If you want the full list or have some of your own please contact me or feel free to share in the comments. 

Payments Expert

ACI Worldwide powers electronic payments for financial institutions, retailers and processors around the world with its broad and integrated suite of electronic payment software.

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