By Alexandre Albarel, Head of Strategy, Worldline, argues that the trend towards consolidation will develop further in 2020, as scale becomes critical in the highly competitive environment where innovation is key.

Consolidation has been a major trend within the worldwide payments industry in 2019, with Fiserv acquiring First Data, FIS taking over Worldpay and the TSYS acquisition by Global Payments, to name just the big tickets.

Europe, too, saw some major M&A activity recently, such as SIX Payment Services joining Worldline in late 2018.

Yet, as the European payment landscape is still highly fragmented this trend will develop further in 2020, as scale becomes critical in the highly competitive environment where innovation is key. It is Worldline’s intention to take an active part in the European Payments landscape consolidation.

Alternative payment methods

In recent years, we have also seen a proliferation of new payment brands and alternative payment methods enter the European market.

The payment brands of social technology giants, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Amazon Pay and more recently Chinese players such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, leveraging their huge customer base, target the attractive European market.

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Such players can rely on cooperation with proven payment infrastructure providers like Worldline to enable merchants to accept those innovative payment means across Europe online and in their stores.

It is our role to constantly enrich the catalogue of payment means we enable our merchant customers to accept.

As an example, we have recently announced a partnership with Bitcoin Suisse to facilitate the use of crypto currencies as a payment means in Switzerland.

Cryptocurrencies and stablecoins

Indeed, crypto currencies and stablecoins are another topic that will impact our industry (as proven by the general reaction following the Facebook Libra project announcement) and it is key for a company like Worldline to take a proactive role on this topic.

Regulation also strongly impacts our ecosystem. PSD2 is reshaping the European payment landscape, giving birth to new players (Fintechs) that challenge the established leaders in each sector, take the customer journey into new dimensions and give access to enriched financial services.

Finally, the payments market is heavily impacted by new technologies and the way customers adopt them.

The massive development of mobile usage for example led to the expansion of Open Banking and has triggered a wave of payments innovation and contributed to the ongoing disruption in the banking and payments market. User adoption is the key criterion that will determine the success of new payment means and new financial services.

Real time payments development is also going to strongly impact the way customers or businesses pay. Several clients participating at the Worldline e-Payments Challenge this year listed real-time payments as their priority.

Innovative mindset

In this context payments companies, but also merchants and any business that accepts payments, have to be agile and adopt an innovative mindset in order to create propositions that deliver a seamless experience for customers.

2020 is bound to be an interesting year the for payment industry: from a corporate perspective, consolidation will continue. But even more exciting is the link between user experience and technology.

We can expect a broad spectrum of innovations borne from AI and ML that emphasize the undisputed role of the customer at the heart of every progress.