Payments and financial services expert, Andréa Toucinho worked for 10 years as Journalist – Editor in Chief of Point Banque magazine and Head of “PayForum” and “Banque et Innovation” events. She works since 2018 in the consulting area with activities in Paris as Head of Studies, Prospective and Training of Partelya Consulting, and Country Ambassador for France of European Women Payments Network (EWPN). She has also developed activities in Portugal and Spain as France Representative of Aefi and Afip Fintech Associations. In 2018, she wrote a white paper about instant payments which was published in November on the French payments market.
In your opinion, what does digital transformation stand for, in the payments and fintech space?
Digital transformation represents a huge evolution for the payments and fintech space. First of all, we can mention the technological issue, which is very important in this context. Many solutions and actors are entering this market to propose more efficient tools to consumers. But we can also think about the regulatory issue, which follows this transformation: PSD2, GDPR and AML are for instance building a new regulatory context for innovative financial services.
We cannot forget the social aspect: means of payment and more generally financial services are witnessing a real transformation, creating modern habits for consumers, which is very important for the evolution of society.
Could you elaborate a bit on the role of instant payments? Why did it take so long for them to arrive? What is the PSD2 impact on their development and future progress?
Instant payment is a new scheme of payment created by European institutions. The goal of this initiative is very diverse. It addresses not only a technological evolution – the step towards “instant” seems natural in our society which is based more and more on digitalization – but also a geopolitical issue: the creation of a real European payment market.
Concerning your second question, I think that we have a lot of models in Europe. Certain countries are very proactive in instant payment such as UK – a real model with Faster Payment -, northern countries, and Italy. Other countries take their time to consider this issue, for instance, Portugal or even France and Belgium. The reason is that the evolution is important for national markets so banks aim at defining, in certain countries, such as France, business models and use cases before any commercial launches. In other countries, such as Spain, Portugal, and Belgium, the necessity to create a consensus between all banks takes time.
There is another issue that we cannot forget: the technological evolution of the back offices of banks, as a result of the evolution to instant payments. Many investments and work are yet to be realized. PSD2, such as recent positions of ECB for instant payment with the launch of TIPS, will represent a booster for this innovation.
Does Portugal have enough potential to become a fintech hub? Could you share some key current industry developments in this space and maybe also France?
In recent years, Portugal has seen many evolutions in the field of payments and financial services. In fact, the adoption of PSD2 in this country created an evolution of supervisor’s position – historically conservative – in the market. A fintech hub has been created and Banco de Portugal invested a lot in new means of payment, for instance instant payment which has been launched in the country in September 2018, and communication for consumers about innovative solution.
In addition, I will mention the position of certain big payments actors which aim at building new strategies in the new regulatory context. The example of SIBS, which has launched in March 2019 its API Market, symbolizes this situation. All these initiatives,coupled with a real political and economic context based on new investments, a national start-up policy, and a globalized view, will contribute to transforming Portugal into a real European Fintech hub.
In France, the market is already very developed thanks to many initiatives created by new actors, supervisors and also banks which are more and more building partnership policies with fintech. The issue for France, which is already a real and prestigious financial place and Fintech Hub, is to address the market with a more globalized vision, which is a real issue to foster developments and to encourage competition between new international actors such as Internet giants.
In spite of GDPR’s focus on consumer protection online, it has also been regarded as a factor of additional friction for international business. Against this backdrop, do you see GDPR as an element of added friction or business necessity?
GDPR is clearly a business necessity. In fact, the evolution of strategies, actors, services and the ambitions of Internet giants such as Google or even Apple bring many issues in the market.
Data and protection of consumers represent one of the key subjects for the evolution of our market. GDPR brings many tasks for actors but it is very important to create a real European framework in this field and to guarantee a balance between innovation and consumers protection. The fact that many countries – such as Canada or even United States – are getting inspired by GDPR to brainstorm their data protection legislation testifies to this reality.
Since open banking is a trendy topic, potentially disrupting banking as we know it, how do you see it best current, and future, alternatives in terms of transactional security?
Open banking is a trendy topic but a reality in many countries in the world such as Singapore, Australia and the United States. In Europe, the subject is already addressed by some countries such as Germany, UK and France with solutions proposed by Berlin Group, Open Banking UK and STET.
The main issue of open banking is, as you mention, security, a subject which is managed by actors with the creation of API, considered as a good way to share data in security. This subject is treated by banks and regulators which do a real work to guarantee the security of the process. I think for instance about a recent meeting organized in Paris in March 18th by ACPR and Banque de France about API exemption : a security process has been put in place by Banque de France to manage the subject. Nevertheless, we cannot forget future issues, such as the European standardization of API, which remains a real key to ensure the development of cross-border solutions in a more and more globalized market. This subject is treated by ECB and ERPB at a European level.
From your perspective, which are the top 3 technological developments to follow until 2020?
The development of API will be a very interesting issue that we will observe in the near future. It will be interesting to analyze the evolutions in different European countries and the works done at a European level in the field of regulation and standardization. European open banking models will progressively appear in our market, bringing new services, offers and strategies. Another main technological issue is instant payment, which is fostered by European institutions. This evolution is very important to guarantee European sovereignty in the field of payments. It will be also interesting to follow the strategies of Internet giants in these markets and to study the evolution of regulation and actors policy in relation with this new opening context.
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