Over the past two years, Santander, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch have made several investments and launched various products in the digital payment space. In 2020, Santander acquired certain Wirecard’s assets to help expand its international open payments platform. The same year, Wells Fargo introduced its WellsOne Commercial Card solution and Payment Tracker to help customers make and monitor seamless online transactions. Last year, JP Morgan launched its virtual credit cards and Bank of America launched its cross-border payments tracker, CashPro.
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- In November 2020, Banco Santander acquired several Wirecard’s specialized technological entities as a strategic move to accelerate its expansion plans in the payments market in Europe. The assets acquired will contain payment solutions for issuance and acquiring services. These entities will help the company expand its “global open payments platform architecture, and create synergies in trade and payments”.
- In August 2020, Santander introduced its first digital debit card in Chile. The digital debit card will enable all Santander’s customers to transact online and link to their existing account. The product will also allow customers to shop and make payments online via mobile apps without the need for credit cards. The inspiration to launch this innovative product in Chile was mainly due to the trends set by the current sanitary contingency and the need for safe electronic payment systems.
- In April 2020, Banco Santander launched a low-cost, fast, and secure cross-border payments service in the United Kingdom called PagoFX. This service provides customers the means to transfer money anywhere in the world without having to pay an extra fee for two months. Considering the transparent and competitive pricing, including foreign exchange rates, PagoFX is an efficient and affordable option for customers.
- The PagoFX app was launched across Europe over the next couple of months.
- In January 2020, Santander announced that it would launch a new electronic transaction and payment platform called Getnet in Argentina and Mexico later in the year. The offering will allow customers to shop and make secure and fast transactions through mobile apps without the need of credit cards. This move was a part of Santander’s “technology-focused expansion plan in Latin America”.
- In October 2019, Santander Bank introduced its global cash management solution, Santander Cash Nexus, to its US-based clients. This platform provides corporate, commercial, and investment banking clients with a “comprehensive suite of global connectivity solutions” and offers information reporting services and local payment initiation across 15 markets through a single entry point. Santander Cash Nexus is a step closer to the bank’s commitment to delivering innovative and efficient banking products to its clients.
- In November 2020, Wells Fargo introduced its new WellsOne Commercial Card solution to help businesses digitally make invoice payments with one-time virtual card numbers, thereby eliminating the use of paper checks. This service provides customers an efficient way to make transactions with the same security as that of credit cards. WellsOne solution offers accurate payment timing, more transparency, and additional controls like one-time use numbers to help customers “mitigate the risk of fraud”.
- In May 2020, Wells Fargo introduced its new free Payment Tracker tool that can be used by customers to track cross-border payments. According to the head of the company’s Global Product Management, Judd Holroyde, Wells Fargo’s new Payment Tracker is “the new foundation for transparency in global payments”. This tool leverages the company’s “leading role and membership in the SWIFT GPI initiative”.
- In May 2019, Wells Fargo announced its partnership with TransferMate, a leading global B2B payments provider, to offer Global Invoice ConnectSM – a payment platform for international businesses based in the United States. This platform will help businesses reduce their expenses and enhance cash flows by the management of receipts, quick and secure transactions, and low cross-border transfer costs.
- This partnership is a strategic move where Wells Fargo works to meet the demands of its international clients in delivering efficient payment systems that allow for better transparency and control.
- In February 2019, Wells Fargo launched its series of contactless cards. The new and simplified customer checkout experience with contactless debit and credit cards will allow users to make transactions “quickly with a single tap at millions of merchants” anywhere in the world. The financial institution also announced that users will be able to use the tap tool to initiate a transaction at any of the 13,000 ATMs across the United States.
- Wells Fargo’s series of contactless cards was built on EMV Chip technology. The launch of contactless cards adds to the company’s commitment to leveraging cutting-edge technologies to provide customers with “simple, easy, and fast ways to bank”.
- In July 2020, JP Morgan, in partnership with Marqeta, a fintech start-up, announced the launch of virtual credit cards. JP Morgan’s commercial customers will be allowed to make transactions through various mobile wallets like Samsung Pay and Apple Pay. Marqeta offers a technology that’s similar to Instacart and DoorDash that issues delivery workers with virtual cards to pay for groceries.
- This strategic move was made to expand JP Morgan’s suite of digital payment systems and contactless payment methods, and improve its stand in the global finance market and gig-economy.
- In May 2019, JP Morgan acquired InstaMed, a payment technology company focused on the healthcare sector, for more than $500 million. Through the acquisition, JP Morgan was given access to InstaMed’s providers, consumers, spanning payers, healthcare stakeholders, and a chance to enhance the bank’s suite of payment services.
- The digital payment services provided by InstaMed were designed to overcome the many challenges normally faced in the healthcare sector and help with eliminating paper-based records and processes, improving patient experience, and reducing collection fees.
- According to the wholesale payments’ global head, Takis Georgakopoulos, the acquisition of InstaMed has given JP Morgan a “unique advantage in one of the fastest-growing sectors”. InstaMed will help JP Morgan strengthen the payment capabilities within the healthcare vertical by providing secure and efficient payment solutions.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- In December 2020, Bank of America announced its launch of a new global payments tracker called CashPro. This launch leverages the bank’s role as “a charter member of SWIFT Global Payments Innovation (GPI)”. CashPro is a self-service tool that enables the bank’s customers to have better transparency and “real-time visibility into their international payments”.
- According to Bank of America’s head of Global Strategy and Payments for Global Transaction Services, David Kretz, this launch helps the company’s goal in bringing transparency, traceability, and certainty to cross-border payments.
- In April 2020, Bank of America announced its partnership with Ripple, a US-based technology company, with the aim of exploring cross-border payment solutions between Mexico and the United States. According to an article published by Cryptoglobe, the executives of the Bank of America have discussed the expansion of their digital payments plan in collaboration with Ripple.
- In June 2019, Bank of America launched its new digital debit cards along with several new features adding to its mobile banking application. This move was made to help customers have a seamless experience while banking online and allows them to fulfill their financial goals.
- According to the bank’s head of advanced solutions and digital banking, David Tyrie, the bank launched this product along with several other digital offerings as a means of providing their customers with “never-before-possible convenience”. Through the launch of digital cards, the bank is hoping to improve its comprehensive set of digital offerings.
DBS to Pilot Digital Payments and Collection System
- In January 2020, DBS launched an industry-first QR-code based payment solution to transform the predominantly cash and paper-based B2B payments and collections landscape for businesses in Singapore.
- The new solution, which facilitates cashless and faster F&B payments, “is an end-to-end QR collection enabled platform that enables instant payments with automated accounts reconciliation functionalities in the backend.” It is also capable of consolidating multiple invoices into one QR-code based transaction.
- The solution also provides merchants with the flexibility to make full or partial payments for one or multiple invoices. Additionally, it provides suppliers with the option of enhancing credit terms for each invoice instantly. To make the entire payment process convenient and swift, the solution further allows suppliers to send a QR code requesting payment from their customers who are not on-hand to receive the goods in-person.
- This solution, which digitalizes payments for F&B players in Singapore, is part of the bigger trend to transform the cash-intensive B2B payments and collections landscape in Singapore by digitalizing and streamlining the same so that SMEs can spend more time serving their customers and exploring new business opportunities.
Launch of Real-Time Payments Solution for Indian Truck Drivers
- In June 2020, DBS Bank India, in partnership with Transport Corporation of India Logistics (TCIL), launched a custom application programming interface (API) platform to provide real-time payments for Indian truck drivers.
- The solution is based on the unified payments interface (UPI) and operates under the control of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
- Upon deployment into TCIL’s enterprise resource planning system, the new solution will enable truck drivers to be paid instantly for their work. This allows truck drivers to better manage their expenses and live a hassle-free life. As per the TCIL CFO, the DBS solution has helped the company strengthen its internal controls, reduce cost, and increase the pace of its business.
- This new solution helps support the broader trend of making India a truly digital economy and allows TCIL to contribute to this digital India mission in a meaningful way.
Launch of First Automated Supplier Payments Solution For Construction Industry
- In August 2020, DBS Bank, in partnership with Singaporean fintech company Doxa, introduced Singapore’s first automated supplier procure-to-pay solution for the construction sector named Doxa Connex. Main contractor Tiong Seng Group has signed up as the pioneer adopter.
- The new payments solution is a first for the construction sector in Singapore, and it aims “to help main contractors improve cashflow management with their suppliers as well as lift productivity and efficiency as they go all out to re-start projects after the extended circuit breaker.”
- It helps in improving productivity and removing inefficiencies in the sector’s procurement and payment processes by eliminating the manual administrative processes that hamper the construction industry. By automating payments “from the main contractor to the supplier, Doxa Connex automatically tracks the entire process from a main contractor’s invitation to quote all the way to procurement orders to delivery orders to last-mile payments.”
- The new solution is part of the wider trend to digitalize and automate the payment process in the Singaporean construction industry, which currently relies heavily on manual and paper-based payment processes, with payments done predominantly using paper-based cheques. As per Autodesk and IDC research study, only 2% of the firms have automated most of their manual processes in the construction industry, which accounts for more than 4% of Singapore’s GDP.
DBS and Google to integrate DBS PayLah! with GPay services
- In November 2019, DBS collaborated with Google to integrate peer-to-peer (P2P) and peer-to-merchant (P2M) transaction services of the two companies. The integration allows DBS PayLah! customers to send and receive funds and also pay merchants via Google Pay using a single-click sign-up.
- The integration allows bank’s customers to easily transfer funds and make instant payments to more than 80,000 merchants in Singapore. The partnership also helps in making mobile payments more simple, helpful, and secure for Singaporeans.
- The partnership is in line with the overall goal of DBS Bank to ramp up its ecosystem partnerships regionally and build wholly seamless, intuitive services for its customers. This is also a step by DBS towards doubling DBS PayLah!’s existing user base of 1.6 million users to 3.5 million by 2023.
Partnership with Form3 to Create Group-Wide Payments Platform
- In July 2020, Lloyds Banking Group acquired an undisclosed minority equity stake in Form3, a cloud-based platform for payments, and entered into a strategic partnership with the company. This partial acquisition adds to the list of the bank’s current technology partners, which include Google Cloud and Microsoft.
- As per the bank, the partnership will help it “investigate and develop a cloud-based payments-as-a-service platform to underpin the entire banking group’s payment processes.” The Form3 partnership will also allow the bank to enable data and new overlay services.
- The partnership is in line with the overall trend in the UK banking industry to adopt the New Payments Architecture (NPA) initiative. The NPA initiative aims to replace the architecture used for today’s UK retail interbank payment systems, which are Bacs and Faster Payments, with new and advanced payments infrastructure. The move also underlines Lloyd’s commitment to adopt advanced digital platforms to streamline its operations.
Lloyds Bank Facilitates Real-Time Cross-Border Payment
- In December 2020, Lloyds Bank, in partnership with global secure financial messaging services provider SWIFT, became the first UK bank to adopt SWIFT’s ‘gpi Instant Connection’, a new service that helps consumers and businesses send money instantly across the globe.
- gpi, which stands for Global Payments Initiative, was launched in 2017 to facilitate international payments. The new service launched by Lloyds Banks leverages SWIFT gpi, SWIFT’s high-speed cross-border rails, and connects with U.K.’s Faster Payments, the region’s own real-time payments initiative, to facilitate real-time cross border payments.
- The partnership is in line with the overall goal of the bank to evolve and create innovative solutions for its clients and broader industry trend to restructure cross-border infrastructure to facilitate instant and frictionless transactions.
Partnership with Blue Motor Finance To Develop Instant Payments API
- In July 2019, Lloyds entered into a partnership with Blue Motor Finance to provide motor dealerships with real-time loan payments through a commercial direct debit API collaboration.
- The API was co-developed by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking API Lab. It leverages the Faster Payment rails to deliver instant loans to motor trader clients of Blue Motor Finance, a four-year-old online financing startup that has lent over £1bn to 100,000 customers since inception.
- The partnership allows loans agreed between Blue and Lloyds Bank to be processed in real-time, implying that Blue’s customers can receive funds within just a few minutes. The two companies have a longstanding relationship and plan to build on this further, to bring instant payments to the car finance market as well for the first time.
- The partnership is in line with the overall industry trend of promoting the development of a digital economy across industries and bring forward the full potential of digital in the UK financial services sector.
BBVA Builds Global Mobile Payment Platform
- In May 2019, BBVA Group announced that it has developed a platform to facilitate mobile payments across all the countries in its footprint. The newly developed platform by BBVA “connects to Visa and Mastercard directly from each country’s application and provides the data required to process digital transactions from a smartphone.”
- The platform leverages a new payment method, which replaces sensitive debit or credit card data with a unique identification code, called a ‘token,’ during a digital transaction. This makes online transactions more secure as the customer’s actual card data no longer needs to be provided.
- The platform has been developed as an agile, global initiative, in order to ensure that its functionality can be quickly adapted to the distinct customer requirements in each of the respective local markets.
- This new platform has been developed in response to the industry trend in payment mechanisms of moving toward the tokenization of credit and debit cards and facilitating secure payments. The new tokenization-based platform by BBVA allows this to happen globally by making customer card payments more secure in any country and from any provider.
BBVA, Visa Direct Expand Open Banking Offering
- In June 2020, BBVA partnered with VISA Direct to expand its API-powered open banking platform to integrate real-time payments within the offering for US companies. BBVA Open Banking, which was launched in 2018, is a platform that uses APIs to let firms offer their customers financial products without having to take on full banking themselves.
- The BBVA Open Platform now allows seamless access to functionality that includes real-time money movement across borders for enterprises via BBVA’s Move Money API (application programming interface) service. The service supports ACH, push and pull payments to and from debit cards, digital bill pay, and other payment capabilities. The new API service, integrated with Visa Direct, allows enterprises to transfer money in real-time from a mobile device.
- The business banking outfit Wise and Tuvoli, a B2B marketplace for private aviation, are among the first companies to have leveraged the new payments service launched by BBVA via VISA Direct.
- The new payment service addresses the broader trend of democratization of financial services and making banking more convenient and seamless for the customers.
BBVA Fully Acquires Mexican Payment Processing Firm
- In August 2020, BBVA acquired the full ownership of Mexican payment processing company Adquira Mexico SA de CV through its Openpay SAPI de CV subsidiary.
- BBVA initially held a 50% stake in Adquira, with the remainder held by telecom company Telefonica Mexico SA de CV. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed in the public domain.
- With the acquisition, BBVA expected a 30% growth to reach 130 million transactions on its two payment platforms, Adquira and Openpay, by the end of 2020. Additionally, the volume of payment transactions from the two platforms was expected to grow 12% to 240.0 billion pesos while annual sales were estimated to increase 28% to more than 640 million pesos.
- The acquisition was done with the overall goal to strengthen the company’s foothold in digital payment processing in Mexico and inline with the broader trend of providing best-in-class innovative digital payment services to the customers globally.
ING and Albert Heijn To Pilot Online Payments Service
- In August 2020, ING partnered with supermarket player Albert Heijn to pilot a tokenized payments service that enables customers to pay for online purchases from their bank accounts without needing to provide retailers with account credentials.
- The tokenization process makes the payment process more secure and robust as it replaces sensitive data (a customer’s bank details) with non-sensitive data (a string of random numbers known as a ‘token’) and benefits both customers and retailers.
- At the retailer’s end, the tokenization process results in huge operational efficiency as it eliminates the need for keeping and protecting sensitive bank data for each customer. The bank is initially piloting the new payments solution with a group of 1,000 ING customers. As per the bank, if proven successful, the innovative payment solution will be extended to other clients and other countries.
- This new payment service addresses the trend of enabling secure and fool-proof digital payments for customers and making customer card payments more secure in any country and from any provider.
Expanding the Digital Platform – Apple Partnership
- In August of 2019, Goldman Sachs partnered with Apple to launch the Apple card. The Apple card promises to revolutionize the credit card experience by giving customers greater control, transparency, and privacy in their transactions, allowing them to live a healthier financial life. Features of this product include no fees, daily cashback, and seamless device integration with Apple mobile devices. Consumers can also analyze spending patterns and calculate interest savings.
Spreading Out Operations
- As of December 2020, Goldman Sachs is considering moving its money management division down to Florida, to take advantage of tax incentives and battle the COVID resurgence. Florida has no state income tax, good weather, and business friendly laws. These factors are incentivizing many businesses to move there. The work from home trend that Covid has inspired, has also made moving easier for businesses. Twenty percent of Wall Street banks and financial service firms are currently thinking about relocating some of their workers outside of New York.
Stepping into Retail Banking – JetBlue Partnership
- In April of 2020, Goldman Sachs announced a partnership with JetBlue, to offer installment loans for big ticket items between $750 and $10,000 dollars. The product is called MarcusPay, and it allows users to break up big purchases into monthly payments over a period of 12-18 months. The loans feature a fixed interest rate of 10.99-25.99%, and there are no added fees.
- Ian Kar, author of “Fintech Today,” believes that MarcusPay turns Marcus into a payment method, and that the product will get Goldman Sachs into the everyday lives of ordinary consumers in a way that it hasn’t been historically. The “Forbes” article’s author, Ron Chevlin, a senior contributor at Fintech, is more skeptical, arguing that point of sale (POS)/installment loans are not used by many consumers, and therefore will not have the desired effect.
- Research indicates that POS loans are popular with millennials though, and that their popularity is growing. Also, lower income Apple Card purchasers may be inclined to use MarcusPay’s POI loans to finance purchases above their card’s credit limit. This will help Marcus grow its merchant presence.
Spreading out Operations
- Deutsche Bank is also working on spreading out its operations beyond traditional financial centers. As of 12/2020, it is considering moving half of its staff of 4,600 to smaller US hubs, over a period of 5 years. To make this plan a reality, the bank will need to develop more small hubs and pockets throughout the US. Since the changes brought on by Covid, Deutsche is also looking at how it can let more of its staff work from home, which will make spreading out easier. A policy is being considered, that will allow staff to permanently work from home up to 2 days a week, allowing more flexibility with building space. There are also plans to cut 18,000 jobs by 2022 to streamline operations.
- Deutsche plans to move its Wall Street office to a smaller office on Columbia street, which would lead to a 30% decrease in their New York footprint.
- Deutsche already has a substantial operation of 2000 staff set up in Jacksonville, Florida. The Florida office houses mainly HR and compliance employees. An additional population of 600 workers, is set up in Cary, North Carolina.
Expanded Payment Processing
- Deutsche is currently looking for an acquisition or joint venture to expand its payment processing. It wants to expand its presence in Europe’s consolidated payments processing industry.
- Digital payments are an area of strategic priority for the company. Deutsche has hired external payment processing experts, including Fintech founder Andre Bajorat, to help the company expand in this area. Its digital payment processing business is still small, generating only 100 million Euros in 2019, compared to Deutsche’s 28.2 billion in total revenue. Deutsche hopes to double this number within the next 3 years with the help of the hired experts.
- In an overhaul to boost growth in the right direction, Deutsche also plans to scale back investment bank operations and cut 6000 jobs from private banking operations.
Digital Transformation – Microsoft Partnership
- Standard Chartered Bank and Mirosoft Corp. have announced a 3-year strategic partnership to accelerate the bank’s digital transformation. Standard has created a cloud first strategy. In partnership with Microsoft, it will use Azure as a preferred cloud platform. The companies will co-innovate open banking and real time payment solutions. They are also working to make virtual banking and banking as a service a reality.
- Standard and Microsoft will adopt a multi-cloud approach. Significant applications, such as core banking and trading systems, and new digital ventures, like virtual banking and banking as a service, will be cloud based by 2025, subject to regulation approval. These changes are expected to make the services simpler, faster, and more convenient for customers. Digital banking can meet customers’ demands for 24 hour a day banking, and make banking more accessible to people across the network.
- Cloud advantages include the fact that cloud providers have already heavily invested in making the service reliable and automated, so it is safe, and much of the work is already done and tested. Also, cloud banking allows banks to be innovative and agile, increasing operational efficiency and resilience. The need for this has become clear in the pandemic, where an increased need for resiliency was made apparent.
- There is a trend towards a digital economy, so these are services that customers expect. They need to be able to bank anywhere, with flexibility and efficiency. Azure cloud computing allows this, and also allows for continuous innovation to meet changing client needs.
- Internal processes will also move over to the cloud to allow seamless cross border trade for the bank’s corporate and institutional clients. Microsoft Teams provides real-time collaboration for Standard’s 84,000 employees.