Connecting to Payments Change

For many years, the payments business has been an important priority for financial services companies because of the impact of payments on product and customer delivery strategies and the associated robust revenue streams. The financial results of the payments business were especially important when other lines of business were experiencing intense profitability pressures – payments really made a difference.

In recent years, however, this business has changed considerably with regulatory uncertainty, evolving customer preferences for payment types and multiple channels, increased fraud and significant technology advances, all in a very challenging economic environment. Add to the mix a wave of new competitors that are introducing a new element of adventure to the payments landscape.

BAI has long been committed to providing valuable insights on important issues in the payments business through consumer research, competitive benchmarks and other programs and this year is no exception. BAI Payments Connect 2013, scheduled March 11-13 in Phoenix, Ariz., is designed to provide retail bankers and payments executives with information and perspectives to help shape their payments strategies, strengthen and preserve their DDA position, manage fraud threats and learn the latest about the many new forms of payments, including mobile. For example, in our Consumer Payments Insights Summit, we have sessions that will cover the latest developments in mobile adoption for various consumer segments. We ask where banks fit in and then look into how some banks are piloting mobile. We’ll provide insightful merchant perspectives on how mobile payments should be structured. We then examine non-bank competitors and finally ask how banks would actually migrate customers to various payment options and channels.

Fraud is a significant challenge and, as more commerce is transacted online, the focus on payments fraud now must emphasize the customer-facing part of the process, including improving how customers are identified. Someone once said that fraud is about authentication and identification and the rest is accounting. There’s some truth to that which is why authentication and synthetic identity are on the agenda of our The Future of Payments Fraud Summit. The fraud coverage starts with the debate over the merits of putting chips in cards to gain security that the mag stripe can’t offer. We will explore the vulnerabilities in mobile as well as the potential for mobile to strengthen the system. We look at how fraud may start in one channel and cash out in another. We also will discuss the implications of “big data” to improve our ability to identify fraudulent transactions. There’s even a session on tax fraud.

In the Checkimage Summit, we highlight how operations managers are evolving to a broader focus on enterprise payments operations, partly because check operations are stabilizing but also because enterprise-level initiatives are going to drive further efficiencies in check processing. This summit includes the ever-popular Fed Town Hall, which has been held every year since 2004 to provide information about the shift from paper to electronic checks. In this year’s session, we’ll hear from Federal Reserve experts on their views of major payments issues and how Fed strategy is evolving in these fast-changing times.

And then there’s the Payments Innovation Track, which is new to BAI Payments Connect this year. We know that consumers will not adopt new payment methods until they are convinced that there is genuine added value for them. While radical innovation can have high impact, we also know that incremental innovation that doesn’t disrupt the payment ecosystem can change the way consumers find value. No matter what form it takes, innovation is central to the future evolution of the payments business and we will cover it. Now, more than ever, financial services executives need to stay connected to the changes occurring in payments and BAI Payments Connect 2013 furthers that goal.

Ms. Bianucci is president and CEO of BAI and publisher of BAI Banking Strategies and BAI Banking Strategies Daily.