Lipis Advisors travelled to Frankfurt on February 17 for the second annual Frankfurt Payments Network symposium. The event brought together leaders in banking, software development, consulting, and regulation to discuss the way forward for the payments industry in Europe. The nine presentations and two panel discussions throughout the day touched on topics such as instant payments, customer expectations, mobile payments, and how banks can create more agile internal processes to spur the development of products and services that can benefit end users.
Leo Lipis moderated the morning session, which featured guest speakers representing a software vendor, the German Bundesbank, consulting, commercial banking, and a large multinational retailer. The focus was instant payments and how consumers and businesses can use them in practice. Thomas Egner of Commerzbank pointed out that returns for instant payments can only be made for technical failures and not in the case of “buyer’s remorse” at having made a purchase that they wish to unwind. Metro’s Robert Herzig gave a large retailer’s perspective, and said that cash is still the cheapest method for accepting payments from Metro customers. The morning session ended with a panel discussion that touched on vital issues for European instant payments such as avoiding market fragmentation, guaranteeing minimum service levels, and data protection.
The afternoon session featured a number of interesting discussions focused on value-added services related to point-of-sale payments, e-commerce, and P2P payments. Andreas Pratz of AT Kearney discussed the potential for success of new payment products and claimed that end users, not regulators, will be the ones to determine the winners and losers in the payments industry going forward. Michael Salmony of the Dutch-German payments processor Equens looked at innovative services in different payment markets, concluding that the markets with the most advanced infrastructure and schemes (such as SEPA) see much less innovation than markets with older infrastructures (such as the United States). While the current focus on infrastructure in Europe and elsewhere is important, ACHs should look to providing high value services as an opportunity going forward.
Lipis Advisors is a member of the Frankfurt Payments Network and was one of seven sponsors of the symposium. We look forward to taking part in future FPN events as the group seeks to clarify relevant issues and identify opportunities for future innovation.