What do you do when 900 startups are targeting your service

Caroline Ada, country manager for Visa, describes the ongoing disruption in the payments industry this way: "There were 900 payment startups last year. It is a fast paced and rapidly evolving category.

"The majority of solutions are there to remove the friction from everyday life, which is buying stuff," she says.

Nowadays, there are so many ways to make payments than just the usual card transaction, Ada says.

"It is not just presenting your card or inserting it anymore. It is tapping it, using your phone to buy, click and collect."

"As an organisation, we have to accept we are not going to have all the answers," she says.

"Our role is to create an environment or ecosystem for any party to innovate with us," says Ada, who spoke at a forum on 'Payments Evolution' by the Trans-Tasman Business Circle.

Her co-panellists were Rob Ellis, chief executive, Semble; David Bullock, director for products and technology, BNZ; and John Scott, managing director, Bartercard New Zealand.

Panellists at the Payments Evolution Forum (from left): John Scott, managing director, Bartercard NZ; David Bullock, director for products and technology, BNZ ; Caroline Ada, country manager, Visa; and Rob Ellis, CEO, Semble

Co-opetition and collaboration

It is "co-opetition or collaboration", she states. "I don't think as organisations we can continue to operate behind a 40 foot wall.

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Related: How New Zealand Enterprises can ensure they are the disruptors -- and not the disrupted - in the fast-paced digital environment.

"The key word is relevance," says another panellist, David Bullock of Bank of New Zealand.

"No matter what organisation you are, or how big you are, you need to think about what change is going on outside your industry or business, and think about if the pace of change occurring in your industry is as fast as that or slower. If it is slower, your company is losing relevance."

At BNZ, Bullock is driving this thinking around customer utility and making it frictionless for the customer.

Semble shows "we need to create ecosystems and care about what the customer wants and the benefits the customer can achieve rather than trying to hold on to customers ourselves and saying, we will do it ourselves", he says.

Rather than companies signing up for the technology bank by bank, they will deal with an ecosystem, he states.

He stresses the need to be vigilant on technology trends.

"I am a really believer that we overestimate the short-term impact of these technologies, and underestimate it in the long term."

He cites, "Can you imagine the mobile phone having the same power as supercomputing today What are the possibilities that can create That is mindbogglingly challenging."

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He says BNZ has teams thinking of these things "to ensure we remain relevant".

"Relevance is absolutely critical for any business to think about," says another panellist, Rob Ellis of Semble.

But given the number of choices to customers that are available, there comes a point where you have to back up one or two horses, he says. The decision "should be informed by your customers' experience".

He says while Semble began with payments, that is just a starting point.

"Our vision for the consumer is to replace everything out of your physical wallet," he says.

These will include plastic cards, loyalty cards and paper-based documents like coffee cards, discount vouchers and coupons, "through to driver's license, building access, control cards, car keys, hotel keys."

"Smartphones are increasingly becoming central to our daily life," he says.

Another panellist, John Scott of Bartercard, says companies face a challenge in deciding which areas to invest in.

"Where do you invest What technology device will you utilise What are common standards around it

"How do you know it is going to be there in three to five years

"For all of us it is a case of understanding and making clear investment decisions."

Read more:'Breakthrough industry collaboration' leads to NZ's first mobile wallet

The Privacy Act is a key thing to consider when we deal with technology, he adds. "Technology is changing everyday, how do you think legislation can keep up with that"


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