When crisis hits, the corporate survival instinct kicks in. LianLian Global Executive Chairman David Messenger told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster that the pressures of the pandemic have underscored the challenges of navigating supply chains. Increasingly, companies across all manner of verticals — but particularly for United States firms operating in eCommerce — are presented with opportunity in the form of new, far-flung markets and customer bases. But along with those opportunities arise challenges. “Obviously there is a long cycle that takes shape across borders — especially in terms of getting inventory in place and shipping it,” he said. To be successful, eCommerce companies must be “local” to their consumers and suppliers, offering preferred payment methods, interacting in the local language, with a presence across all online channels, well beyond the confines of, say, Amazon. Up until recently, Messenger said, many cross-border sellers had been reliant on only a few larger marketplaces, spanning Amazon, eBay, Walmart and other marquee names. But increasingly, and especially amid the pandemic, several channels have proved attractive to sellers, including cdiscount and allegro, to name two. Operating as a B2B outfit, LianLian Global has partnerships in place with those players, simplifying the process of setting up digital storefronts. That initial launch can be done in a matter of days, not months, he added. The Evolution But now, many sellers coming out of the pandemic want to focus on building their own brands, cementing direct customer relationships. Along the way, said Messenger, merchants have moved beyond the simple act of setting up eCommerce operations and have been evolving to become something bigger, as firms broaden their revenue streams to include not just B2C but B2B too. “Especially for larger cross-border sellers — where they have an established base and their own channels — they want to open things up and become marketplaces,” said Messenger. “We’re seeing that with quite a number of our larger sellers from China.” Doing so is part of a diversification strategy, said Messenger, but enterprises need help in getting there. The competitive arena has been thrown wide open for providers (LianLian Global among them), especially in the B2B space, which had traditionally been dominated by banks. The movement toward B2B marketplaces carries its own set of complexities, Messenger said, which are tied to discovery, sourcing, staging of inventory and payments. Messenger also noted that the risk profile of B2B commerce is higher than B2C, particularly when suppliers can be located halfway across the globe. He said the platform streamlines the discovery/viewing of products and has know your customer (KYC) and compliance checks built in. The data that crosses the platform between buyers and sellers is especially useful in bringing lenders into the picture, as they have a better understanding of underwriting risk. And, with a nod to the ongoing supply chain snarls, he said that LianLian Global has been working, chiefly along the U.S.-China corridor, to identify logistic partners and freight forwarders to integrate into its platform. Payments connects suppliers and buyers, platforms and consumers, countries and currencies. Looking ahead, there may be a role for stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) to play in bringing B2B activities more fully into the digital age, along with smart contracts. But more immediately, to help smooth global commerce, LianLian Global has launched its digital cross-border wallet in the U.S. That wallet, which debuted after the company obtained licenses to operate in all 50 states, helps merchants sell their products on platforms, including Amazon and others. Describing the mechanics, Messenger said the digital wallets allow for payments across a range of currencies (for payments up to $1.5 million) as U.S. merchants sell into international markets and secure vendor relationships. In terms of scale, LianLian Global said it has 1.2 million eCommerce customers globally. Read more: LianLian Global Intros Multi-Currency Wallet These efforts make supply chains more reliable for sellers in a world where buying local and shipping globally has become the mantra for eCommerce sellers operating across borders, Messenger said. And increasingly, platforms are central to it all. “You’ve got to move the goods and you’ve got to move the money and exchange the appropriate data between the different parties along the way,” he told Webster https://www.pymnts.com/news/ecommerce/2022/cross-border-payments-help-ecommerce-merchants-navigate-chinas-business-complexities/
Remittance corridors that connect African nations to economies in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S. provide a vital lifeline for many individuals moving money across borders. Now, a new wave of FinTech firms are increasingly challenging the dominance of traditional cross-border transfer solutions like Western Union and Moneygram, looking to help make transfers faster, cheaper and more convenient. Read more: From Startups to Institutions: Solving X-Border Challenges in Africa to Facilitate Remittance Flows One area in which newer FinTech firms are bridging value to customers is through tailor-made solutions that recognize the specific needs of economic migrants. In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Dan Webber, general manager for new products at global FinTech firm Remitly, highlighted how the firm is focusing on serving underbanked populations who might otherwise have trouble accessing financial services. See also: Remitly on Serving Underbanked Populations and Ensuring Shared Alignment With Partners “This is a customer [base that] is underserved,” he said. “It’s more difficult to get access to a bank account. Going into [bank] branches and providing this type of documentation is painful.” Whereas other money transfer services focus on app-based, digital solutions, Remitly enables African migrants to send remittances to mobile money accounts and wallets in over 20 countries across Africa, including MTN, M-Pesa, Airtel, Vodafone and Tigo. There is also the option for recipients to retrieve funds in cash through partnerships Remitly has inked with banks and post offices in various markets across the region. Driving B2B X-Border Payments When it comes to business-to-business (B2B) cross-border payments, the challenges faced by small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in emerging markets, and Africa in particular, differ from those of migrants, yet several of the underlying issues remain the same. Key among them is the difficulty of making payments to suppliers across multiple currencies belonging to these economies, while minimizing foreign exchange (FX) volatility. Related: B2B Marketplace VertoFX: From Currency Convertibility to Cross-Border Payments in Emerging Markets It’s a challenge London-based FinTech VertoFX is helping businesses overcome through its B2B currency exchange marketplace and multicurrency wallet product, which allows SMB clients to convert money from one currency to any of the other 30-plus currencies Verto has on its platform and hold the new currency in their wallet until they are ready to make a payment. Read more: The B2B Marketplace Fix For FX In Emerging Markets This means that a client in the U.K., for example, who plans to make a future payment to suppliers in South Africa, Kenya and the U.S. can do so through their virtual wallet, converting British pounds to each of three local currencies and issuing the payments when they are ready to do so. “That way I remove FX rates risk because I’m able to know right now what the rate is to convert into [South African] rand, Kenyan shillings and U.S. dollars,” VertoFX co-founder and CEO Ola Oyetayo told PYMNTS, adding that the ability to eliminate price and rate uncertainty is why the feature has been very popular with its SMB clients. See also: Currency Exchange Marketplaces Accelerate Supplier Payments for Emerging Markets SMBs And, as inflation continues to rise worldwide, the ability to hedge against FX volatility is no doubt a key factor that will contribute to driving business growth in these uncertain economic times. Sign up here for daily updates on all of PYMNTS’ Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) coverage. https://www.pymnts.com/news/cross-border-commerce/cross-border-payments/2022/fintechs-redefine-x-border-payments-for-african-consumers-smbs/
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) last month said it’s close to launching its own digital yuan, arguing that the rationale behind the move is to “protect” its foreign exchange sovereignty. “This becomes a mechanism by which (the yuan) can be used in everyday transactions all around the world,” said Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire. This becomes a mechanism by which (the yuan) can be used in everyday transactions all around the world China’s central bank plans to launch its digital token through a two-tier system, under which both the PBOC and commercial banks would be legitimate issuers. “I look at this really meeting several goals. But, I think the bigger opportunity here is this is a way for the Chinese yuan to be distributed globally,” Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday. “This becomes a mechanism by which (the yuan) can be used in everyday transactions all around the world,” added Allaire, an internet entrepreneur who also founded video streaming firm Brightcove. “It’s ultimately a foundation for the internationalization” of the yuan. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/13/chinas-new-cryptocurrency-and-yuan-rmb-internationalization.html
With something like 380 websites being created every minute, building an e-commerce shop can be a daunting task. It's easy to look at all of the success stories out there and think, "How could I possibly be that lucky?" However, the opportunity for growth in e-commerce is not slowing down. E-commerce sales are projected to grow 85 percent from their 2019 totals by 2022, according to a report from Statista. With financial odds like that, an online entrepreneur who is armed with a lot of knowledge, a good work ethic, and a powerful passion absolutely can be successful in today's marketplace. Every great business starts with a great idea -- but as you well know, even the perfect idea won't be successful without careful planning. It might be a helpful exercise to treat yourself like an investor. Don't put a dime into the company until you see careful research, smart goals, and a method to get your money back and eventually turn a profit. Here are some tips to get you started. 1. Big Names Aren't Necessarily Better Many entrepreneurs entering the e-commerce space think they need huge retail sites to get behind their product to be successful. While ultimately selling contracts to big brands is a great way to make money, you don't need to rely on Amazon, Etsy or eBay to sell your products in the beginning. In most cases, these hotshot names don't do any marketing for you, and they take a cut of whatever you sell. In some cases, using a ready-made platform to sell your idea might make sense -- but do your homework. There are so many free and low-cost tools for building your own platform, you don't need the big guys to come in and bail you out. If you're doing your own marketing and driving traffic to your product anyway, you may as well keep the profits from your sales. 2. Differentiation Is the Key Boutique products are having their moment right now. The challenge is convincing that first wave to spend money on your product above what they already are buying. Customers love finding the newest, trendiest brand or product and introducing it to all of their friends, so show them that your product is that best new thing. What makes your product different from the competition? It's important to think outside the box. Is it more environmentally friendly? Does it grow with your customers? Will astronauts be using your product on the moon? Don't be afraid to make bold claims -- provided that they are 100 percent true and verifiable. Perhaps a good way to find your niche is by really getting to know your ideal customers. What is the one thing they want most? How will you make that wish come true? If you can answer that, you'll have a great hook for luring new customers. 3. Marketing. Plus Marketing. Did I Say Marketing Already? All jokes aside, good marketing is absolutely the make-or-break resource of every e-commerce business. Even if you have the best idea and the clearest differentiation message, no one can buy your product if they don't know it exists. Business owners are busy people, so this is an area you may even consider hiring out to a third party to ensure it gets done right. Whether you work with an outside company or bootstrap all of your marketing on your own, make sure you have a clear definition of your target customers and go where they are. Use a clear, consistent message to communicate what your brand is all about. Think about how to make your product fun to share with friends. If you can get your customers to do some of your advertising for you, your reach will increase exponentially on a limited budget. 4. Compete With Creativity It's called the "World Wide Web" for a reason. There are billions of websites, and most of them get lost in the noise of the Internet. Whatever industry you're in, you likely are competing with some huge brands. You'll never be able to match their dollar amount for marketing, but you have a unique perspective and you can use that to your advantage. Remember those ideal customers? Learn more about them. Where do they hang out? What are their online habits? What are some other interests they might have outside your products? I have seen brands go after audiences in very unconventional places with astounding success. One beauty brand set up videos on Twitch, a platform typically viewed as dominated by male gamers. Finding the brand's niche audience among the females who also utilize the service garnered enough cash to allow investment in bigger ad spends to stand out on other platforms as well. With some creative thinking, you can get your unique message in front of the right people to get your product off the ground. 5. Find a Dependable Supplier Whether you are creating your own product or looking to dropship, you need the right kind of supply chain for your business. A successful relationship with your supplier starts with asking the right questions while you're shopping around. Keep in mind that most products must meet regulatory guidelines, so it's essential to know if a manufacturer is equipped to do that in your chosen industry. If you're ordering wholesale products, you need to know what kind of quality control they will undergo from their creation until they land on your doorstep. Deadlines can be a big point of contention, so keep a clear line of communication open and have a plan of action for unexpected circumstances in your initial contract. 6. Consider Scalability You will want to consider the future in every aspect of your business plan. From your initial negotiations with a supplier to hiring decisions, scalability absolutely should be in the forefront of your mind. You'll need to work with a manufacturing or wholesale facility that is prepared to do that with you. Beyond your physical product, the website platform you choose needs to be able to handle a greater volume of orders without losing any speed. The frustration customers feel when websites don't load correlates directly with bounce rates. As your business grows, you'll likely reach global audiences, so make sure you also have a plan in place for accepting all types of currency, for international shipping, and for staying abreast of a variety of foreign regulations and tax laws. 7. Create an Experience With Exceptional Packaging Loyal customers love to be immersed in the brands they love. When they walk into the quaint local shops they frequent they want to smell the smells, admire the perfect decor, snap selfies in front of interesting backdrops, and be greeted by friendly service people while they browse. It's an experience. While the brick-and-mortar shop is not part of an e-commerce brand, the touchable, multisensory experience absolutely can and should be. The way to do this well is with exceptional service and the right kind of packaging. Successful e-commerce entrepreneurs will be on the lookout for packaging ideas that are more than just functional. Your packaging should tell an entire story about the purchase inside that makes shoppers want to share that experience with their friends. Watch for trends with felt cartons, personalized notes, scented linings, and biodegradable boxes and bags. More than anything, the packaging you choose should fit the overall mission behind your products. You want that moment of unboxing to be just as shareable as a beautiful mural on a store wall. A little extra investment in beautiful packaging upfront can result in the kind of viral marketing that money just can't buy. 8. Keep Going All good things are hard. Building a business might be one of the hardest. It's easy to get bogged down in frustration when your launch doesn't take off right away or your traffic plateaus, but if you don't keep trying, you are guaranteed to fail. If one idea isn't working, it might be time to switch gears. As much as possible, arm yourself with data about the people you are trying to reach. Customer surveys can go a long way in helping you replicate and build on positive results. Use this information to keep a solid plan with measurable goals in front of you and your team at all times. Always keep reaching for that next great idea, and don't give up. Boutique brands are being sold in million dollar deals all the time -- there's no reason you can't be next. E-commerce is definitely a great space for entrepreneurs looking to get their feet wet. With relatively little capital, an idea can become a real business almost overnight. Stick to the basics: Research the right kind of platform for you; flesh out your messaging and marketing plan; look for new, interesting ways to tell your story; find a supplier you know you can work with; and follow through with a remarkable customer experience. You will get there.
The payments industry is leveraging emerging technologies to transform in areas such as digital identity, data protection and privacy, instant cross-border payments, and payments-channel integration to meet customer expectations and stay competitive as agile newcomers enter the industry. This report explores some of the significant payments trends expected in 2019 Customers’ increasing expectations for value-added services are stirring fast-paced disruption in today’s payments industry while regulators push collaboration and open ecosystems, and agile new entrants transform the scene even further. Business as usual now demands continuous innovation and adoption of emerging technologies such as application programming interfaces (APIs), real-time payment (RTP) infrastructure, robotic process automation (RPA), and the Internet of things (IoT). Powered by these enabling new technologies, open banking is encouraging firms to adopt Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) delivery models to connect various stakeholders for the exchange of data and value. Heightened openness is spurring the need for robust digital identity, advanced data and privacy protection, and regulators’ emphasis on balancing supply push with market-demand pull. Based on the latest industry activity, our analysis of the top-10 payments trends for 2019 explores changing landscape dynamics and potential challenges and benefits. https://www.capgemini.com/resources/top-10-trends-in-payments-2019/
Chinese card payment giant China UnionPay had extended its services to 177 countries and regions, as some merchants and automatic teller machines (ATM) in Armenia began to accept UnionPay cards recently. Central Asia and Transcaucasia are core regions along the Silk Road Economic Belt, and the acceptance of UnionPay cards in Armenia will contribute to the interconnection of the payment network along the Belt & Road, said Shao Fujun Chairman of China UnionPay. The coverage rate of UnionPay cards has reached about 70 percent in central Asia and Transcaucasia, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia. Over 80 percent of countries and regions participating in the Belt & Road Initiative have signed cooperation agreements with China UnionPay, covering nearly 10 million merchants and 700,000 ATMs, said the company https://www.beltandroad.news/2019/10/19/china-unionpay-expands-services-to-177-countries-regions/
The self service tokenization platform 1.0 is the first product public release by OriginatorX. This release offers clients access to our full security audited protocols that facilitate the creation of standardized ERC20 tokens backed by company equity and the set up of their auction pricing contracts. Who We Work With? We work with startups, mature companies, government and even social enterprises. The range of industries include tech and security, bio tech, finance, real estate, and mining firms. We serve clients with operations in South Africa, United Stated, India, UK, Singapore, Philippines and the rest of the world. What is Crypto Equity? Crypto Equity is a sustainable method of representing ownership rights of a company on the blockchain. Just how fiat currency was once backed by gold; Crypto Equity tokens are backed by equity. Shares represent ownership, claim to asset, claim to revenue and participation, compensating investors for the risk in case of a default. You can specify the representation of the token through the platform. www.OriginatorX.com for more details
The Emphasispay.com marketplace solves the transition for Partners / Resellers and Consultants dealing in Enterprise solutions and Payments, as the industries are challenged by delivery of Cloud and Mobility applications from start-to-end. The mission of limiting CAPEX exposure and unexpected timeline disruptions which is a major barrier to entry and sustainability for many industries. NEW YORK, June 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ - SmartCard Marketing Systems Inc (OTC: SMKG) is pleased to announce Emphasispay.com the business marketplace for its Channel Partners & Resellers. The marketplace focuses on the company's go to market strategy delivering a conduit into the payments and global enterprises industry with a Brand As Your Own disruptive strategy. The company's portfolio of technology delivers intuitive design and wireframes for specialized industries advancing go-to-market delivery for Enterprises and financial Institutions. All inclusive, with the added value of integrated 3rd party technologies and payment gateways from around the globe to make it truly seamless. In addition, the company provides a flexible licensing structure which includes BPO access to a skilled set of developers and designers for customizations, maintenance and support with dedicated project managers to guide the way. This flexibility also provides scalability assurances to deliver on large portfolios of merchants and customers but at the same time affordable to smaller portfolios. About SmartCard Marketing Systems Inc (OTC:SMKG) A boutique Payments & Incentives technology company focused on Cloud and Mobility for the Retail, Banking & Enterprise Industries. The company specializes in proprietary end-to-end intuitive applications for a "Brand As Your Own" portfolio including QR Wallets, Rewards and Couponing, Events and Mobile Ticketing, Remote Deposit Capture, Workforce management, Blockchain, E-KYC, Tokenization, Ride Booking, Cross-border FX, Proximity & Payment acceptance applications. We Seek Safe Harbor SOURCE SmartCard Marketing Systems Inc (SMKG) Related Links http://www.smartcardmarketingsystems.com/
While mobile payments have been off to a slow start in most of the Western world—even the rollout of EMV chip payments in the United States is far behind schedule—China has become the melting pot for mobile payment solutions. The mobile payment space has become fiercely competitive, with both market leader Alibaba and messaging giant WeChat scrambling for valuable market share. However, what was once a strictly domestic affair has expanded abroad, with China’s mobile payment providers now battling for Chinese tourists’ mobile payments on the global stage. According to iResearch Global, the transaction volume of Chinese mobile payments reached 10 trillion Chinese yuan (US$1.45 trillion) in 2015 and is projected to reach 22 trillion yuan (US$3.20 trillion) in 2017. In comparison, the equivalent figure for the United States stood at a meager US$8.71 billion in 2015—in spite of efforts made by Apple and Samsung to promote mobile payment features in new smartphone devices. As a testament to the central stage mobile payments has taken in Chinese consumers lives, Ogilvy & Maher and Ipsos concluded in a survey of China’s mobile payment market that “[Chinese] mobile payment has permeated all aspects of life and changed basic, everyday habits.” Explosive growth in recent years has made China the global leader in mobile payments. (Data from iResearch Global) With mobile payments becoming ubiquitous for purchases made in China, that leaves payments made overseas as the next frontier for payment providers who strive to become Chinese consumers’ go-to method for payments—whether at home, online or on vacation abroad. For overseas destinations, hotels, retailers, restaurants, and tourist attractions, this makes the Chinese payment landscape a lot more complicated than it used to be. Until recently, accepting payments through the Chinese government-backed UnionPay interbank network used to be the gold standard for payments made by Chinese tourists. Indeed, updating the points of sale terminal (PoS) to accept UnionPay and slapping a UnionPay sticker on the front door was all that was needed to reach the forefront of Chinese payment implementation. The good news is that, given the fierce competition between WeChat Pay (Tencent) and Alipay (Alibaba), Chinese mobile payment providers are now doing their best to rapidly expand overseas by implementing a wide range of local partnerships and marketing programs. Alipay, currently the market leader representing some 51.8 percent of all Chinese mobile payments, is pushing its “Airport of the Future” program in destinations frequented by Chinese tourists, hoping to be there for Chinese tourists as soon as they step off the airplane. In fact, it has even begun partnering directly with airlines to offer its mobile payment solutions for in-flight purchases as well. Alipay has also entered a long range of strategic partnerships with local players in popular destinations for Chinese tourists which are helping expand the Alipay payment network at all types of PoS operators, such as retailers and accommodation providers. Among its local partners are Ingenico, Concardis, Wirecard, and Zapper in Europe, Ascend in Southeast Asia, Recruit in Japan, as well as KICC in South Korea. Just a few days ago, it also announced its acquisition of major U.S.-based money transfer company Moneygram which will provide Alipay with a strong base in the Americas as well. For Alipay, working closely with local players is crucial to its work to expand its overseas mobile payments network and leaves most of the heavy groundwork to major non-Chinese players that already have strong footholds in their respective markets. For local companies who wish to accept Alipay, that means that expanding into Chinese mobile payments can be as easy as contacting their existing PoS provider for upgrading payment terminals. Meanwhile, WeChat is betting on its growing brand recognition among marketers around the world to become the go-to option for overseas businesses looking to begin accepting Chinese mobile payments. WeChat is also starting to place bets on local partnerships to expand its reach overseas, but so far it’s lagging behind Alipay in the number of local partners it has under its belt. Its better-known local partners include a Thai bank and an Australian fintech company, with many more partners certain to come. In an industry as frigid as payments in developed markets, relying on local players may indeed be a necessary evil for WeChat as it seeks to displace Alipay from China’s mobile payment throne. While it looks unlikely that the gold standard for accepting Chinese payments will ever be as easy as only accepting one particular Chinese payment method again, tourism stakeholders can take some solace in that WeChat and Alipay are doing their best to become easy and attractive to implement.
The growing number of Chinese consumers traveling to the U.S. and other countries is becoming a two-for-one opportunity for payment companies. The market's gigantic and growing — and it has a lot of trouble executing transactions. For many Chinese travelers today, "transactions redirect to a hosted payment system that's in China," said Paul Levine, a senior vice president at Planet Payment. "That comes with a lot of issues." Removing friction from the payment transaction trail for Chinese travelers, particularly for card not present transactions, has almost become a category in and of itself. Planet Payment just entered a collaboration with UnionPay International and United Airlines to handle reservations and other ticketing purchases either online or through call centers. The integration allows travelers to use UnionPay to book directly with United, avoiding the workaround to execute cross-border payments between China and the U.S. That helps reduce transaction abandonment by improving the user experience, Levine said. Chart comparing sizes of global e-commerce markets "In addition to the rerouting, there are also browser issues with the Chinese internet firewall, so there's an abandonment problem," Levine said. "By the time the consumer selects a flight, chooses a seat and tries to make a payment—but fails because their browser crashes—it's a frustration for the user." Through an existing integration with UnionPay, Planet Payment offers merchants access to UnionPay's SMS-based authentication and online processing systems. Cardholders enter details into the payment page with a PIN to authorize the cross-currency transaction. The Chinese consumer pays in Chinese renminbi, while the merchant receives U.S. dollars. The United partnership is starting with UnionPay credit cards, and debit cards will be added at a later date. Planet Payment hopes that by luring travelers to online payments without a redirect for both credit and debit cards, it can attract U.S. merchants and Chinese consumers to broader shopping scenarios that don't involve travel. "We want to enable more e-commerce transactions from merchants outside of China to consumers that are inside the mainland," Levine said. Planet Payment is working with UnionPay on further enhancements that will allow it to reach a broader base of retailers and consumers, Levine added. "The travel vertical is the early test bed for digital," said Andy Schmidt, an executive advisor at CEB, adding resolving deployment issues for travel payments can help expand to other categories later. "You have meals and booking and hotels. Once you are ready to launch outside of the airport, it's easier." As part of this strategy, Planet Payment has launched a marketing campaign to draw attention to updated UnionPay security protocols that are designed to make it easier to debit cards for cross-border card not present payments, which can serve both travelers and consumers inside China. Since most of UnionPay's cardholders are debit users, it's vital to open that side of the market, Levine said. "If you are only accepting credit cards, you are basically giving up on those other 5 billion debit cards that are in UnionPay's network," Levine said. Other companies are also pursuing the Chinese travel market, with an eye on broader shopping. UnionPay has launched a card for tourists traveling to Europe and recently launched in Canada. Alipay, the digital payment system operated by the Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, has partnerships with First Data and Verifone to enable payments in Western markets and has focused on U.S. airports as a gateway to increase Chinese consumer spending in the U.S. Beyond Ant's pending acquisition of MoneyGram announced this year and a collaboration between UnionPay and FIS to offer gift cards to U.S. travelers in China, most of the moves have focused on serving Chinese consumers in the North American, European and Asian markets. Given the 120 million people who traveled outside of China in 2015 spent more than $200 billion, the market is huge, even without the expansion to broader payment types beyond airlines, airports and hotels. "The Chinese market is vitally important," Schmidt said. "It has the biggest population on the planet and they are making more electronic payments. It's a rising power and it's important for merchants to help them make payments as easily and as quickly as possible to reduce transaction friction or the foreign exchange."
The surge of students seeking an overseas education in recent years powered rapid growth for Flywire, a Boston-based payments technology firm that handles cross-border tuition payments. It must now test whether the global network it built can serve the B-to-B market as well. The international tuition payments market is getting more competitive, not only from Geoswift and others in the international tuition-payments niche but startups aiming to cut the cost and hassles out of cross-border payments. Flywire earlier extended its reach to healthcare payments, giving it a small glimpse of the broader B-to-B ecosystem. Based on its own analysis of annual export dollars for products and services in markets where Flywire’s tuition and healthcare operations are centered—the U.S., Europe, Japan, Singapore, South Africa and Australia—Flywire estimates more than $6 trillion in cross-border B-to-B payments are suited for streamlining. Adobe Stock “Corporations face a lot of the same problems that plagued the international tuition market, where their senders face slow and unpredictable processing times that hurt recipients' cash flow, and fees vary and may include unpredictable foreign exchange rates,” said Jeff Althaus, executive vice president and general manager of Flywire B-to-B. The move underscores another trend in B-to-B e-commerce, where PayPal recently partnered with OroCommerce to streamline cross-border payments from suppliers' websites. Flywire's platform is based on relationships it's established in each key market with local banks and other payment providers, including the Swift international payment network when necessary, to create a streamlined process to send funds in the fastest and least costly way, leveraging cards and e-wallets when it makes the most sense, Althaus explained. In addition to multiple steps and surprise fees, corporations often struggle with cross-border payments because they’re usually awkward to initiate, Althaus said. “In our case, the sender begins with Flywire and the payment flows through easy-to-track channels, documenting its move with notifications confirming exactly when payments are sent and received.” Flywire also provides phone and chat support for recipients expecting payments. Even with streamlined processes, cross-border payments rarely happen in real time, according to Althaus. But Flywire's ability to spotlight a payment's path provides huge advantages to companies watching the bottom line, he said. “Flywire simplifies and speeds up payments, but just as important is getting visibility into the payment's status, so recipients can act on payments that are past due or relax knowing payments are guaranteed to be in transit,” Althaus said. Unlike many consumer-targeted cross-border payments, Flywire also is tailored to handle very large payments unsuitable for some smaller payments processors and card network rails, added Jason Moens, vice president of product at Flywire. Flywire has hired a direct sales force pursuing large and small corporations that routinely send invoices across borders in industries including travel, hospitality, publishing, luxury products and digital goods with an urgency factor, such as event tickets, music and other content, the executives said. Initial markets for Flywire’s B-to-B payments market include the U.S., U.K, Singapore and Australia.
Mastercard today announced the appointment of CIO Ed McLaughlin to president, Operations and Technology. In an interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, McLaughlin spoke to the developments and challenges in the latest payments industry shift toward device-based and contextual commerce, the role of operations and technology in meeting consumer demand and what’s next for payments on the global stage — especially as it relates to financial inclusion. “This is the third wave for our industry,” McLaughlin told Webster. “I think we’re in the middle of an accelerating shift which is just as profound as plastic.” Mastercard started completely offline with charge plates and knuckle busters, he noted. The push to put a machine-readable device in everyone’s pockets — a piece of plastic — and to create a real-time network around it was a major industry undertaking. Now, the industry is in a similar position — only digital and moving ever more toward device-based and contextual forms of commerce. In this space, customer experience is more important than ever. “Everyone likes to talk about the T in operations and technology,” McLaughlin said. “But the O is the consumer experience that everyone, justifiably, is so focused on. That’s how it lives every day, everywhere — the consumer experience is the operation.” The challenge for a payment network then becomes finding ways to maintain a consistent, reliable consumer experience across a growing number of devices. For Mastercard, this means operations are also about enabling people in the broader technology ecosystem to manage that payment experience and make it good for consumers. And likewise, knowing when to hold back. “There are lots of things that you can do,” he noted, “but what you really should be asking is: is this a better context? For decades, we wouldn’t allow merchants to have a terminal that failed every third time, and we’ve always had standard about things like responsiveness. This directly applies, and probably even more so, when it comes to the digital world.” The only reason customers begin to do something — pay a certain way, for instance — is because it’s easier and better than previous methods. Many would even argue that shifting entrenched behavior requires a 10x improvement over past methods, McLaughlin said. It’s all about knowing your audience — recognizing first and foremost who the consumers are, what they want and what they’re ready for. In navigating the growing device- and context-based commerce, ensuring products and services that roll out don’t diminish the overall consumer experience is key. “I need to know not just that it’s working as designed, but that it’s working in the consumers’ hands everywhere, every time,” McLaughlin said. “That’s another big part of this shift to digital.” Likewise, consumers aren’t one for diminished options. “When Apple Pay was launching, one of the first questions from consumers, which I didn’t even think would be a question was, ‘can I still use my card?’” McLaughlin said. In general, he noted, consumers are enthusiastic about new technology — as long as it works with what they already have and ties everything back together. For the ecosystem, this means that collaboration between device makers and payment companies is moving upstream. And more than ever, anticipating where the technology is headed is key. As an example, McLaughlin pointed to Mastercard’s work in the mobile point-of-sale space as the movement first emerged. Thinking about some of the more profound digital disruptions in recent years — Amazon in retail, iTunes in digital media or Uber in personal mobility — it was in a sense, he said, the underlying payments services that enabled those to take hold on the market. Collaboration and anticipation in the ecosystem points to one of the promises of digital payments, McLaughlin noted — the combinatory effect. “As you get more API-based services operating in an absolutely secure and well-behaved way,” McLaughlin said, “that can now be combined with services to create these new commerce context or experiences for consumers. Having it all work together is powerful.” All of these points are converging globally. But nowhere is it more apparent than in rapidly digitizing emerging markets. India, for example, is a huge market for Mastercard. The company has been involved developing systems within the context rapid adoption of mobile payments in the country of 1.2 billion since the beginning, noted McLaughlin. The recent push to demonetization has only worked to accelerate it. Some examples include a QR standard that allows brick-and-mortar merchants to be able to display code that, when scanned, would push funds into a prepaid or electronic receiving account. “With mutual inclusion through prepaid with the ability to have a trigger to push a transaction using this QR code along — whether it’s a Mastercard, Visa or RuPay transaction,” said McLaughlin, “that merchant moved beyond cash which helps all of us, and then we get to have a share in that market as we transition.” This points to another promise of digital payments — growth in financial inclusion. “The digital divide is real,” McLaughlin said. “Everything online that we enjoy — just getting access to it isn’t enough. Unless you can also participate economically, you’re still cut off.” He pointed to work Mastercard had done in Zimbabwe working with local banks and HomeSend, the company’s digital remittance solution. Once remittance funds began flowing into mobile money accounts, they found that within a short time, over a third of what McLaughlin called “classic” eCommerce in Zimbabwe was coming from a population that hadn’t been able to participate before. This is what McLaughlin looks forward to most in his new role as president of Operations and Technology — the ability to connect the world. “That’s the power of having that 16-digit number — it’s the token that enables your passport to the existing online world,” McLaughlin said. “To have the ability to drive where it goes and what it becomes is pretty amazing.” Related Items:contextual commerce, customer service, Device-Based Commerce, digital payments, e-commerce, Ed McLaughlin, Featured News, financial inclusion, india, Innovation, interview, MasterCard, News, payments, technology ecosystem ï‚š ï‚™ ïƒ¡ ï†¤ ïƒ Recommended for you NEWS: Mastercard Completes Acquisition of Vocalink Overstock.com’s Different Vision Off The Continent And Into Puerto Rico For Online SMB Lending Get our hottest stories delivered to your inbox. Signup for the PYMNTS.com Newsletter to get updates on top stories and viral hits. Click to comment Partnerships / Acquisitions First Data, Flywire Partner To Transform X-Border Business Payments By PYMNTS ï‚™ ïƒ Posted on May 2, 2017 ï‚š ï‚™ ïƒ¡ ï†¤ ïƒ Conventional wisdom may be conventional, but it is not always prescient. In fact, the most widely held beliefs are often the ones that miss the mark or are too early. Take the payments industry. In an interview with PYMNTS, conducted in March at Innovation Project 2017, Flywire CEO Mike Massaro reflected on what did not happen in the previous year that might have or had been expected en masse by industry observers. He and others expected more advancement around bitcoin and blockchain technology, for one thing, buoyed by headlines and partnerships between banks and FinTech upstarts. “We continue to not see a major innovation yet,” he told PYMNTS. “There is great technology, there are great ideas around the space, but there has never been a breakthrough moment, and I think a lot of people thought that would have happened by now.” And even as the world and payments become globalized, crossing borders and a 24/7/365 landscape, remittances have room for improvement. One feature ripe for attention: There may be too many touch points along the payments continuum. “I think one of the sectors that needs innovation is business payments,” Massaro said. “To run a business, you still need too many different relationships with banks … different procedures to send money abroad and receive money…. There are near-term challenges surrounding remittances, cross-border.” And with so many cooks in the kitchen, said the executive, “payers in the field are racing to the bottom for costs…. They do not add a lot of tangible value over traditional movement of money. Traditional players competing on price alone are going to have a lot of challenges over the coming year.” Geographically speaking, said Massaro, there are encouraging signs as payments and cross-border functionality improve and take shape in emerging markets such as Africa and Central America, among other areas, he said. To that end, Massaro’s March comments, on a large scale, seem to be encapsulated in an announcement fresh off the presses: On Tuesday (May 2), Flywire said it was partnering with First Data in a deal “aimed at streamlining cross-border transactions for their respective client bases,” the companies said jointly in a release. The partnership will hinge on a reciprocal relationship focused on referrals for users of Flywire’s international payments and receivables platform and First Data’s client network and technology offerings. For Flywire, the ability is there for expanded card payment options; for First Data, the benefit is to leverage Flywire to accept large-scale international payments, with greater presence in health care, education and B2B verticals. Related Items:cross-border payments, first data, Flywire, massaro, Remittance ï‚š ï‚™ ïƒ¡ ï†¤ ïƒ Recommended for you Australia Tries Its Hand At E-Invoicing IBM’s Blockchain Lands At Japan’s Mizuho For Trade Finance Azimo Adds Payments Via Phone Number To Its App Comments B2B Payments Off The Continent And Into Puerto Rico For Online SMB Lending By PYMNTS ï‚™ ïƒ Posted on May 2, 2017 If expansion is key for SMBs, so too is it for lenders. Biz2Credit is linking up with Oriental Bank in Puerto Rico to boost SMB lending, digitally, in a move that takes into account some of the particulars of the market — and language is just one of them. ï‚š ï‚™ ïƒ¡ ï†¤ ïƒ For small businesses, expansion is key, and expansion needs capital. For small business lenders and for FinTech too, expansion is key; but for Biz2Credit, expansion is literal. In a partnership formed recently with Puerto Rico’s Oriental Bank, Biz2Credit said late last month that it has begun offering its digital lending platform to the bank’s commercial clients. The company has said that it is the first bank in Puerto Rico to offer digital services, ranging from business credit cards to working capital loans to SBA loans. In an interview with PYMNTS, Rohit Arora, chief executive officer of Biz2Credit, stated that the digital platform and online lending applications are conducive to a mobile-centric interaction between Oriental Bank and smaller businesses. The focus, he said, “has been on offering an end-to-end digital process” with loan applications, from initial interaction to scorecard to approval and underwriting. The movement to digital, he said, helps avoid the costs of beefing up efforts in physical branches nationwide to draw in customers for face-to-face meetings. Through cloud-based processing, applicants upload their documents electronically, and, similarly, commitment letters and closing documents (along with disbursement of loans via Oriental) are done electronically as well. In addition, said Arora, whose firm has arranged for $1.7 billion in small business financing across the last decade, customer applications are offered in both Spanish and English. The dual language option is a nod to the bilingual culture extant in Puerto Rico, he continued, but also allows Biz2Credit to springboard that platform to other multi-lingual regions, such as Florida and California in the United States, along with, eventually (and longer term), as a gateway into Latin America. For Oriental, he said, the move to embrace digital lending is a strategic one, where in a marketplace with four large traditional lenders (via banks), market share is important. That is a different business dynamic than might be seen in the United States, said the executive, where there are thousands of financial institutions in an environment that he termed as “still very fragmented.” Drilling down a bit into the Puerto Rico market in particular, Arora noted some differences between small business lending versus, say, the United States. Verticals within the SMB realm that may be receptive to online lending, he said, include manufacturing and retail. Loan size tends to reflect the smaller size of the businesses in Puerto Rico, said Arora, with $250,000 for Puerto Rico vs. $500,000 in the United States, with terms of three to five years. “Working capital is key,” he told PYMNTS, and typically can be used to fund equipment and other items that are geared toward expansion. Though the regulatory climate is not that different, said Arora, the fact that Oriental is the first bank to come to market with digital lending with any size speaks to a tough economic climate that may have kept demand dormant — yet the picture is improving. Smaller firms in Puerto Rico, he said, have yet to fully embrace other loan and capital conduits, such as corporate credit cards, where perhaps more education is a way to bring smaller firms to adopt those instruments in wider force. The advantage of small business lending done digitally — available when traditional lending might not be — remains, said Arora. The two companies are coming to market with an emphasis on technology — specifically mobile — to bring SMBs to online lending. He noted that Biz2Credit’s own site and platform are geared toward mobile, with interfaces and processes in place that are more intuitive than might be seen with a desktop setting. The company has said in the past that in the U.S., 37 percent of its applications are initiated during timeframes surrounding typical business hours. Throw weekends in, he told PYMNTS, and that tally shoots to 52 percent, testament to the appeal of doing transactions over mobile. Related Items:B2B, B2B Payments, bilingual, Biz2Credit, digital lending, Featured News, Lending, Mobile Payments, News, online lending, Oriental Bank, partnership, puerto rico, Rohit Arora, SMB, working capital ï‚š ï‚™ ïƒ¡ ï†¤ ïƒ Recommended for you Mastercard’s New President Of Operations And Technology On Payment’s ‘Third Wave’ Ecommerce Fraud To Surge, Says Radial Data FleetCor To Buy Cambridge Global Payments For $675M Comments TRENDING RIGHT NOW News FTC Gives Dollar General Approval To Buy Dollar Express Stores B2B Payments Visma, Youredi Partner To Help Small Suppliers Act Big Apple Apple’s $250B Cash Hoard Mobile Payments Mastercard President On How Networks Drive Innovation B2B Payments PayPal Powers Payments Ecosystem For SMBs Real Estate Home Ownership Outpaces Rental For First Time In Decade Artificial Intelligence Tencent To Open Seattle AI Research Lab Politics The President May Replace Top Banking Regulator