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When payments became digital everything changed

Rob Cameron CEO, Global Payments Acceptance: The changing shape of the payments industry

Thu Dec 13 04:30:00 EST 2018

After 22 years in the payments industry, you’d think Rob had seen it all. Two months into his new role, however, and his adventure with Barclays is just beginning. Rob reveals his vision for Barclaycard Payment Solutions, his thoughts about the industry, and what might happen when coins disappear.

Making paying smart

When starting out in this industry I’d proudly tell people at parties that I worked in payments. Back then the average person would simply pay in cash, with a card or a cheque.  It wasn’t nearly as exciting to them as it was to me, and my wife would call it a bit of a conversation killer.  Then something happened that really changed how people see our business. 

People no longer need a plastic card to make a payment because using smart devices to pay has become a normal part of one’s everyday shopping experience. As this change happened and payments went digital, people started finding it interesting and even fun to talk about this incredible technical revolution.

Another thing that amazes me is the shift from buying on a desktop to paying on your mobile. The ease and convenience of paying with your mobile - thanks in large part to the way payment and shipping details are stored -  is a masterclass in simplicity. Click, click, buy. What could be easier.  And the move towards invisible payments is incredible too. The way people can now set up recurring billing or subscriptions has totally changed the way we pay – it's all so simple and user friendly.

100 days to make a change

It’s said people take three months to form a new habit. But who has three months these days? In the ever evolving world of payments, time is a luxury we cannot afford. Luckily, it was immediately clear the team was a very capable group with a broad range of skills.  That gave me time to focus on understanding what our customers need and what we at Barclays are capable of delivering. In this way we can strategically plan for the future, leverage growth opportunities and make sure we effectively execute on the goals and objectives we put in place.

Speaking of growth, Barclays has gone through a major, multi-year program to upgrade its core payment and settlement environment. Investing in this program now allows us to focus on our customers and their needs in the confidence that our service is backed by a strong, stable and resilient platform.

A problem shared

Partnerships aren’t just nice to have, they’re crucial to us because the world of payments is constantly evolving. In my mind there are two very different types of partnerships. Capability partnerships which provide pieces of the overall service and allow us to improve our product offerings, extend our geographic reach or enhance our value in some way.  And distribution partnerships with companies that embed our payments into the solutions they take to market.  As they sell their solutions they bring our payment services to their customers.

Both are very important to us as they provide a means whereby Barclays can grow in the future. Forming partnerships is not a choice: it's a necessity. We need to continue to invest in markets and seek out partners that will help us serve our customers and also differentiate ourselves in an increasingly crowded market.

A flip of a coin

I predict a future without notes and coins, and I think we’re not too far away from that cashless society now. But whether we become cashless or not is irrelevant. Ultimately, like Google, Apple, Amazon and the other industry giants of today, we need to focus on what the client needs and make their lives as simple, easy and convenient as possible. And we do that by helping them to serve their customers, however those customers pay. If we make every transaction simple, convenient and competitively priced - and make sure our clients never miss a sale, no matter whether it’s in store, online or via app - then we’ll have done our job.

It’s not only the end customer I want to see benefitting from modern banking methods. Small businesses should also benefit from easy, convenient systems. Previously, a small business would come into a bank branch and get a payment terminal. They would then separately buy a cash register or software programme to manage their inventory and keep track of customers. Businesses now expect holistic solutions that will save them both time and money. And if we can provide integrated payments and inventory together, then that’s what they’re going to gravitate towards. We need to stay relevant to those businesses and anticipate their needs into the next generation of consumerism.

Keep it simple

My business mantra is ‘simple wins the day,’ because I believe the secret to our success is in making it easier for our clients, partners and colleagues to work with us. And ultimately, it’s all about giving customers what they need when they need it.