In the digital age, the payments sector has undergone a profound transformation, reshaping the way we handle our finances, conduct business, and interact with the global economy. From traditional cash and cheque payments to the advent of digital wallets, cryptocurrencies, and innovative fintech solutions, its evolution has been rapid, transforming legacy systems once considered the bedrock of payment processing through new technologies.
Fintech startups have been leading this transformation. By focusing on convenience, security and efficiency, these businesses are leveraging existing technologies to increase the speed and accessibility of payment options. London has been attracting significant global talent in this space, and now hosts both some of the world’s leading and up-and-coming payments startups.
Importantly, the scale and pace of growth show no signs of slowing down.
The total transaction value of the digital payments sector is projected to reach over $9 trillion by the close of 2023. Should current trends continue, it is anticipated that this value will rise to $14.78 trillion by 2027. These are impressive figures, highlighting just how profound the growth potential of the payments sector is.
A similar sentiment was highlighted most recently during SIBOS. As one of the world’s leading conferencing and networking events for the fintech and financial services industries, this year’s iteration of SIBOS focused on the use of banking and financial services to overcome fragmentation and promote greater integration. From central bank digital currencies to cross-border payments, global connectivity and tokenisation, attendees heard about the current state of the market, the untapped potential of existing technologies and recommendations for promoting further the ongoing innovation of payment systems.
Having monitored the evolution of payments and the trends triggering new innovations, the coming 12 months could be the most disruptive period yet for the sector. The below highlights some of the most prominent trends.
The end of cash as we know it?
The trend towards a cashless society is expected to continue in 2024. This is largely due to the convenience and efficiency of digital payments, which have been further highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the advantages attached to digital transactions. The convenience and speed at which transactions can be facilitated have resulted in a shifting market preference for digital payments, both in advanced and emerging markets.
Mobile adoption, internet penetration and investment in online infrastructure are collectively promoting the use of digital payments. While Western economies have largely adapted to this transition away from physical cash, spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are likely to see increasing use of digital payments in places like LATAM, MENA and Central Asia. This has already resulted in a number of payment service providers in the UK expanding into these markets, offering their merchants access to a greater volume of consumers.
Greater collaboration between finance and technology
As the payments sector continues to evolve, traditional payment providers are increasingly collaborating with fintechs and technology providers.
These collaborations are expected to drive innovation in the sector, leading to the development of new payment solutions and services. It is something that has already been key to the sector’s success. Finance and technology companies have worked together to develop digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. These wallets allow users to store their payment information securely on their devices and make contactless payments, enhancing convenience and security.
The result is greater efficiency and effectiveness, with a focus on improved security, transparency and speed of transactions.
E-commerce cross-border payments
The shift towards e-commerce is another significant trend shaping the payments sector. As more consumers prefer to shop online, there is a growing demand for efficient and secure online payment solutions. Importantly, these transactions are not confined to national jurisdictions. As businesses become more globalized, there is a growing need for payment solutions that can handle transactions across different currencies and jurisdictions. This trend is expected to accelerate in 2024, driven by technological advancements and regulatory changes.
Cross-border payments have been integral to the rise of B2C e-commerce transactions. The global cross-border B2C e-commerce market is set to be valued at $6585.3 billion by 2032, with a projected compound annual growth rate of 27.30% for the coming decade.
Collaboration or competition?
Since the first wave of fintech innovation, the manner in which banks have reacted has differed. Some sought to develop their own internal capability to compete with fintech startups while others sought partnerships and acquisitions. With the growth potential of the payments sector on full display, the question is how mainstream financial institutions will decide to engage with payment fintech companies. Will we see big banks acquiring payment fintechs? Or will we fintech firms continue to pave the way for new innovations, particularly in emerging markets, with big banks chasing close behind?
Either way, such competition will work in favor of businesses and consumers, with companies of all sizes seeking to pave the way for new innovation. And it is this competition which makes it vital for payments companies to adopt clear and actionable PR strategies.
Payment companies should use PR as a strategic tool to manage their reputation, build trust, educate the public, engage stakeholders, and differentiate themselves in a dynamic and competitive industry. Positive media coverage and well-crafted PR messaging can enhance the company’s credibility in the eyes of consumers and business partners, while also contributing to greater education and clear brand positioning. At the same time, PR professionals can help payment companies navigate the complexities of the financial sector and effectively communicate their messages to diverse audiences.
The coming 12 months will be an exciting time for payment startups. To capitalise on the growth potential of the sector, these startups will be forming new partnerships with merchants and seeking out new markets to target. Particularly in places where mobile penetration and internet adoption is on the rise. As such, PR stands integral to the commercial growth objectives of these companies.