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Star Wars? No, PSD2 means banking wars

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The revised Payment Services Directive will be a hot topic next year as it could mean a change in traditional banking as we know it, allowing third-party service providers to offer customers alternative banking services, says THOMAS PAYS, co-founder and CEO of i-Pay.

If you have not heard about the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) yet, get ready, there will be a lot of talk of it in 2017. Since the Council of the European Parliament passed the PSD2 legislation, the banking sector is bracing itself for a period of immense change, with a lot of companies set to get into the action over the next few years.

In a nutshell, PSD2 allows for, amongst others, digital role players to tap into payments systems traditionally considered the domain of the financial services system. Banks must, according to the regulation, offer third-party service providers ways to access customers’ accounts through open APIs (application program interfaces). This paves the way for the banking sector to evolve quite dramatically, eventually allowing for different types of companies and fintech startups to offer banking services to customers.

“You are actually looking at the collapse of the traditional banking infrastructure and a rebirth of banking as we know it.” These bold words come from Thomas Pays, co-founder and CEO of i-Pay, an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) payment gateway based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Pays believes through PSD2, banks are set to lose full control over account information, a key resource which, understandably, they never wanted to share with fintech companies. As innovative and agile as new fintech start-ups are, a number of them were hamstrung by this, with banks arguably stifling innovation and the growth of the industry.

PSD2 was adopted by the European Union (EU) in order to promote innovation in the payments space, improve consumer protection, and to incorporate new and emerging payment services typically provided through digital innovation. While PSD2 is first and foremost focussed on the EU, Pays notes that this regulation will affect South African banks too. “Several local banks have branches in the UK and Europe, and since these fall under PSD2 regulation – and also being on the same back-end as the banks’ South African systems – their whole structure would need to change in order to comply,” notes Pays. He describes the impact of the regulation as a ripple effect that will eventually touch banking in as many as 67 countries.

Here is, for example, the way PSD2 will change the online buying process. Currently, the way shopping is done online allows for a number of role players in the process, including the merchant and customer, the ‘merchant acquirer’ that processes credit card payments on behalf of the merchant, card schemes such as Visa, and finally the customer’s bank. PSD2 creates what is called a Payment Initiation Service Provider (PISP), a go-between which if given permission by the customer, initiates a payment bridge directly between the merchant and the bank. This is possible since PSD2 offers API access to the customer’s bank accounts, and it is in the role of PISP that fintech companies, such as i-Pay, will operate.

Who will benefit the most from PSD2? Pays believes that through the new banking ecosystem, the main winner will be the consumer, since it will not only be more convenient to transact online, but also safer. “PSD2 is taking online banking infrastructure and gearing it towards an environment which is stronger and more robust – much more so than the current method of buying online with credit cards,” he elaborated. The merchants too are set to benefit, since they are looking at much smaller transaction fees and more convenient ways to accept payments.

Pays believes that even though PSD2 opens the market for innovative companies, the exact type of innovation it might herald is not yet known at this stage. “PSD2 is going to shock the market not just on a technological level, but also with time through the innovation it will drive. At this stage, we can only speculate how banking is going to work in future,” Pays says.

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IoT at starting gate

South Africa is already past the Internet of Things (IoT) hype cycle and well into the mainstream, writes MARK WALKER, associate vice president of Sub-Saharan Africa at International Data Corporation (IDC).

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Projects and pilots are already becoming a commercial reality, tying neatly into the 2017 IDC prediction that 2018 would be the year when the local market took IoT mainstream. Over the next 12-18 months, it is anticipated that IoT implementations will continue to rise in both scope and popularity. Already 23% are in full deployment with 39% in the pilot phase. The value of IoT has been systematically proven and yet its reputation remains tenuous – more than 5% of companies are reluctant to put their money where the trend is – thanks to the shifting sands of IoT perception and success rate.

There are several reasons behind why IoT implementations are failing. The biggest is that organisations don’t know where to start. They know that IoT is something they can harness today and that it can be used to shift outdated modalities and operations. They are aware of the benefits and the case studies. What they don’t know is how to apply this knowledge to their own journey so their IoT story isn’t one of overbearing complexity and rising costs.

Another stumbling block is perception. Yes, there is the futuristic potential with the talking fridge and intelligent desk, but this is not where the real value lies. Organisations are overlooking the challenges that can be solved by realistic IoT, the banal and the boring solutions that leverage systems to deliver on business priorities. IoT’s potential sits within its ability to get the best out of assets and production efficiencies, solving problems in automation, security, and environment.

In addition to this, there is a lack of clarity around return on investment, uncertainty around the benefits, a lack of executive leadership, and concerns around security and the complexities of regulation.  Because IoT is an emerging technology there remains a limited awareness of the true extent of its value proposition and yet 66% of organisations are confident that this value exists.

This percentage poses both a problem and opportunity. On one hand, it showcases the local shift in thinking towards IoT as a technology worth investing into. On the other hand, many companies are seeing the competition invest and leaping blindly in the wrong direction. Stop. IoT is not the same for every business.

It is essential that every company makes its own case for IoT based on its needs and outcomes. Does agriculture have the same challenges as mining? Does one mining company have the same challenges as another? The answer is no. Organisations that want their IoT investment to succeed must reject the idea that they can pick up where another has left off. IoT must be relevant to the business outcome that it needs to achieve. While some use cases may apply to most industries based on specific circumstances, there are different realities and priorities that will demand a different approach and starting point.

Ask – what is the business problem right now and how can technology be leveraged to resolve it?

In the agriculture space, there is a need to improve crop yields and livestock management, improve farm productivity and implement environmental monitoring. In the construction and mining industry, safety and emergency response are a priority alongside workforce and production management. Education shifts the lens towards improving delivery and quality of education, access to advanced learning methods and reducing the costs of learning.  Smart cities want to improve traffic and efficiently deliver public services and healthcare is focusing on wellness, reducing hospital admissions and the security of assets and inventory management.

The technology and solutions selected must speak to these specific challenges.

If there are no insights used to create an IoT solution, it’s the equivalent of having the fastest Ferrari on Rivonia Road in peak traffic. It makes a fantastic noise, but it isn’t going to move any faster than the broken-down sedan in the next lane. Everyone will be impressed with the Ferrari, but the amount of power and the size of the investment mean nothing. It’s in the wrong place.

What differentiates the IoT successes is how a company leverages data to deliver meaningful value-added predictions and actions for personalised efficiencies, convenience, and improved industry processes. To move forward the organisation needs to focus on the business outcomes and not just the technology. They need to localise and adapt by applying context to the problem that’s being solved and explore innovation through partnerships and experimentation.

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ERP underpins food tracking

The food traceability market is expected to reach almost $20 billion by 2022 as increased consumer awareness, strict governance requirements, and advances in technology are resulting in growing standardisation of the segment, says STUART SCANLON, managing director of epic ERP

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Just like any data-driven environment, one of the biggest enablers of this is integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

As the name suggests, traceability is the ability to track something through all stages of production, processing, and distribution. When it comes to the food industry, traceability must also enable stakeholders to identify the source of all food inputs that can include anything from raw materials, additives, ingredients, and packaging.

Considering the wealth of data that all these facets generate, it is hardly surprising that systems and processes need to be put in place to manage, analyse, and provide actionable insights. With traceability enabling corrective measures to be taken (think product recalls), having an efficient system is often the difference between life or death when it comes to public health risks.

Expansive solutions

Sceptics argue that traceability simply requires an extensive data warehouse to be done correctly, the reality is quite different. Yes, there are standard data records to be managed, but the real value lies in how all these components are tied together.

ERP provides the digital glue to enable this. With each stakeholder audience requiring different aspects of traceability (and compliance), it is essential for the producer, distributor, and every other organisation in the supply chain, to manage this effectively in a standardised manner.

With so many different companies involved in the food cycle, many using their own, proprietary systems, just consider the complexity of trying to manage traceability. Organisations must not only contend with local challenges, but global ones as well as the import and export of food are big business drivers.

So, even though traceability is vital to keep track of everything in this complex cycle, it is also imperative to monitor the ingredients and factories where items are produced. Having expansive solutions that must track the entire process from ‘cradle to grave’ is an imperative. Not only is this vital from a safety perspective, but from cost and reputational management aspects as well. Just think of the recent listeriosis issue in South Africa and the impact it has had on all parties in that supply chain.

Efficiency improvements

Thanks to the increasing digital transformation efforts by companies in the food industry, traceability becomes a more effective process. It is no longer a case of using on-premise solutions that can be compromised but having hosted ones that provide more effective fail-safes.

In a market segment that requires strict compliance and regulatory requirements to be met, cloud-based solutions can provide everyone in the supply chain with a more secure (and tamper-resistant) solution than many of the legacy approaches of old.

This is not to say ERP requires the one or the other. Instead, there needs to be a transition provided between the two scenarios that empowers those in the food supply chain to maximise the insights (and benefits) derived from traceability.

Now, more than ever, traceability is a business priority. Having the correct foundation through effective ERP is essential if a business can manage its growth and meet legislative requirements into the future.

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