The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be attributed to the European Payments Council.
We interviewed Thomas Egner, Secretary General, Euro Banking Association ( ) to know more about the key findings of the Euro Banking Association ( )’s recent Request to Pay survey.
What were the rationale behind and the objectives of the Euro Banking Association ( )’s recent Request to Pay survey, and what were the general findings?
Strengthening and modernising the pan-European payments ecosystem is part of the ’s “raison d’être”. That’s why it was natural for us to look for ways to support the efforts of the and many other industry players to make Request to Pay a reality.
Request to Pay holds a huge potential to improve many payment situations, but it can only make a positive difference if it is optimally integrated with users’ payment processes and meets their requirements. To better understand the pain points and expectations of corporates and SMEs with regard to their payment, invoicing and reconciliation processes, we decided to launch a pan-European Request to Pay survey targeted at businesses.
Our key objective was to gather insights into the Request to Pay solutions and features that businesses ask for. But we also wanted to start a dialogue between the demand and the supply side on how to put these expectations into practice. Our survey has revealed a strong appetite for European Request to Pay services, but it has also made it very clear that a lot of drilling-down and expert exchange will be needed for the industry to agree on priorities and for players to deliver their first products.
Could you please share your insights into the key demands of companies and merchants for a pan-European Request to Pay scheme and the major benefits they would derive from it?
The most crucial result of our survey was the tremendously high interest that the respondents showed in using the new instrument. What’s more, close to 100% of respondents supported offering a Europe-wide uniform mode of operation for Request to Pay.
The participating payment experts and corporate treasurers saw clear benefits for all four use cases covered: point of sale, e-commerce, e-invoicing and recurring payments. But they did raise a few doubts about the ability of Request to Pay to compete with today’s payment methods at the average retail checkout counter.
Overall, the provision of structured billing information, easier reconciliation and end-to-end digitalisation were identified as key benefits of Request to Pay, closely followed by enhanced convenience for both billers and payers. To reap these benefits, the respondents saw a strong need for their suppliers to join forces to ensure the standardisation required at many levels – from the initiation of the Request to Pay through QR codes to its integration into corporate ERP systems.
In terms of core features, many respondents insisted that Request to Pay would not fly without payment certainty, either in the form of instant payments combined with instant reporting or in the form of a payment guarantee. And finally, they pointed to the need for widespread reachability as a key pre-requisite for using Request to Pay.
What would be the value of Request to Pay services for European consumers?
Corporates named enhanced convenience, security and usability as key benefits that Request to Pay could deliver for their customers’ payments journey. The verification of the identities of the biller and the payer and the exchange of the transaction data before the initiation of the payment were perceived as a true game changer for the overall payment experience.
Another benefit that businesses consider to be very valuable for their customers is the potential of Request to Pay to support payers in managing their personal finances more actively, thanks to the enhanced control and visibility it may bring to account-based payments. Where possible, payers could, for instance, be allowed to define the payment execution date or offered to pay in instalments.
Last but not least, businesses also value Request to Pay as a means to improve post-transaction communication. Value-added services mentioned in this context include offering digital storage for e-invoices or receipts, to provide customers with the necessary proof of purchase for later returns. Other respondents suggested using the Request to Pay channel for sending out payment reminders.
In a nutshell, our survey findings provide valuable food for thought for the supply side when considering the development of Request to Pay solutions. The full report detailing the survey findings is available for download on our website.
More broadly speaking, what do you see as the main drivers and trends for the evolution of European payments until 2030?
We all have witnessed how technology impacts the entire payments ecosystem. In the past, attractive business propositions often failed due to not-yet-available or non-performing technologies. With today’s possibilities, services can be set up and delivered a lot more easily. are exemplary for these new powerful capabilities. The provision of white-label cloud solutions, the increasing use of artificial intelligence for data analytics or fraud combatting and, finally, digital and programmable money are other examples where technology impacts and drives product and service development in and by the banking industry.
The financial industry needs to improve further its ability to deal with the impact and speed of these changes and use their potential. But, most importantly, it has to continue to invest in its cooperative capabilities to develop the standards and practices required to unlock the power of these technologies and the promises they hold for end users.
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