Recent articles published by, or referencing, Edgar, Dunn & Company in leading business and trade publications:

By Peter Ehmke

The payments world has recently seen two big, bold deals which, in their own way, will have a major impact on the payments world. They are very different in nature and are a great reflection on how payment players are looking to adjust to the rapidly changing payment market: supping with the devil on the one hand, expanding into unknown territory on the other.

It was not a complete surprise when MasterCard announced its acquisition of Vocalink; it had been mentioned in the press a few months before. The regulator had mentioned often enough that it wanted the big UK banks to sell Vocalink. Visa was barred from the sale by having a dominant position in UK debit. So Mastercard, not encumbered by numerous national and political ties that restrained the other European clearing houses interested in a tie-up, had a fairly clear run at it.

With this deal MasterCard has acquired what is probably the primary player in the Faster Payments, or real time ACH, space today. Vocalink processes the majority of UK non-card retail payments and owns the software that powers Faster Payments in the UK, FAST in Singapore and the real time offering of the Clearing House in the US, which is going live in January 2017. Using Faster Payments, money can be exchanged between two parties’ bank accounts in quasi real time. There is no need for a card network to sit in between the accounts. So why would a card network buy into the ACH space?

Read more: Supping with the Devil and Exploring Unknown Territory: the Latest in the Battle of the Titans

By Mark Beresford

Food delivery services are going through an extraordinary change.   

Domino’s Pizza started in the 1960s with three small shops in a suburb of Michigan and has grown into the second-largest pizza franchise in the US, behind Pizza Hut.  The company has been riding a wave of global success, currently operating in more than 80 countries and delivering more than one million pizzas a day.  In today’s digital age, Dominos is obviously a pizza company but increasingly they are a digital e-commerce company at the same time.  With almost 34 million potential combinations of pizza, Domino’s has become an omnichannel retailer allowing its customers to order on an app, by voice, by sending a pizza emoji over social media, or through their television.  Using technology to serve customers more effectively is a vital to success.  Domino’s fully appreciates that if you can’t move fast, someone is going to make your business nonexistent.  They are the leading player in pizza home delivery.  Domino’s don’t want to ever imagine being disintermediated by another player processing orders and owning their consumers.

Read more: Can you Digitalise a Pizza?

By Samee Zafar

Can blockchain or distributed ledger technologies help prevent attacks on the world’s critical financial systems?

Banks use standardised electronic messages, made up of codes and identifiers, a sort of a common financial language, to make international payments and move money around the world.

There are checks and balances, policies, and procedures in place to comply with legal requirements, validate the parties involved, detect irregularities, and looking out for anything suspicious, anything out of the ordinary. Transactions are checked against special databases such as those containing information on blacklisted individuals and entities or those under government sanctions. Hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake so it is hardly surprising there are so many controls built into the system.

But even with all these financial fortifications in place and armies of back-office staffers monitoring money movements, now and again hackers manage to get way with very large sums of money.

Earlier this year, a massive heist took place. Someone stole around $81 million from the account of Bangladesh Bank, the country’s central bank, with the New York Federal Reserve. The audacious plan was to steal a whopping $1 billion from the account but the NY Fed caught most of it in its preventive net mainly due to an unexpected piece of good luck.

Here’s what happened.

Read more: Can Blockchain Prevent Cybercrime?

By Samee Zafar

As much as 50% of small businesses do not survive their first year of operation and an overwhelming majority are gone within 5 to 10 years.

It is not the lack of ideas or profitability or hard work or the dedication or sacrifice of the owners but the cause most common to business failures is their inability to finance working capital needs. This may sound trivial but it is catastrophic to those who have experienced it. Businesses fail not because they don’t make enough money but because they fail to generate sufficient cash or “liquidity” to pay their creditors.

Read more: The Curious Case of Death of Small Business

By Mark Beresford

One of the biggest buzzwords in commerce today is omnichannel.   I would like to propose that omnichannel is a buzzword in retailing that has a life expectancy of five years or may be ten at most.  Omnichannel means that no matter which channel is the customer’s touch point – whether a payment device or a self-service kiosk in store, on the web, or a retailer's app on a smartphone – their experience should be seamless, streamlined, secure and optimized for the needs of each channel.  Any payment acceptance strategy and an omnichannel strategy must be cohesive and established concurrently.    

Omnipresent retailing is universal, borderless, frictionless, and pervasive.  Retailers want to achieve a unified customer experience.  In the future the sales channel will be irrelevant and shoppers will not care about the channel or even realise the difference because there will be no difference.  Omnipresent retailing is the future.  Shoppers will shop where they want to shop and they will not be obligated to spend within the four walls of a store or only via a website.  It will happen where they are at any point in time and it will be simple and secure.  Shopping will be omnipresent and retailers must be agile in order to respond to the evolving customer behaviours.  Making a purchase could take place on the way to work, in your car, on your smartphone, in the store or at home with a voice-enabled command via Amazon Echo, for example.  Omnipresent retailing means providing a consistent brand experience across all points of interaction with the customer, with the goal of delighting today’s demanding, tech-savvy shoppers.

Read more: Omnipresent Retailing and the Importance of Agility

by Samee Zafar

Close to customer

For Fintech stars that have reached or or are at the point of reaching the fabled Unicorn status – a billion-dollar valuation – continuous customer interaction is an absolute requisite in the minds of investors.

In the digital world, a business model that enables customers to interact and engage with customers on a daily basis, like Facebook or Google or whatsapp, is far more valuable in the eyes of the doyens of Silicon Valley, than one that demands only a one-off or occasional interaction, like an online insurance company which, barring any unfortunate events, is pretty much forgotten after the policy is sold till the time comes to renew it.

Read more: How Deep is your Disruption?

By Martin Koderisch

The Brexit referendum vote is over and counter to almost all forecasts the UK has indeed voted to leave the EU. The simple Leave or Remain question took place on the 23rd June with the result announced on the 24th. UK citizens were asked this question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union”. Stakeholders the world over are now starting to digest the implications of Brexit. This article briefly describes the impact and consequences of a Brexit vote on the European payments landscape. In particular, we consider the implications for payment companies - EU and non EU -  that currently passport a UK license across EU.

Read more: Impact of Brexit on payment companies - What happens to the EU passporting system now that the UK...

By Gregoire Toussaint

“With a trillion sensors embedded in the environment, it will be possible to hear the heartbeat of the Earth, impacting human interaction with the globe as profoundly as the Internet has revolutionised communications”. Peter Hartwell, senior researcher at HP Labs, shares the belief that the Internet of Things is about to profoundly alter the way we live, communicate and interact. EDC shares the same belief and discusses the transformation of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Connected Objects on commerce and payments.

Grégoire Toussaint will chair the session on IoT at TRUSTECH Incorporating CARTES from 29 November to 1 December 2016 in Cannes, French Riviera. Join us there to discuss the evolution of IoT and Connected Commerce: www.trustech-event.com.

Read more: From IoT and Connected Objects to Connected Commerce

By Samee Zafar

Apps to apathy

Websites and point and click menus are designed for computer screens. Client-side applications, or Apps – small computer programs – are designed to run on smaller screens of handheld devices like phones and tablets. Navigation is undertaken using point and touch, finger flicks, scrolls, swipes, or other hand gestures.  Good retailers have apps available for download at app stores making it easy for their customers to discover content, products, and services.

Retailers also optimize their websites for mobile devices but apps are preferred because they provide better data analytics, are faster and more secure, and for very small devices such as digital watches, apps are the only choice.

Read more: The New Digital Commerce

By Volker Schloenvoigt

Since 2015 the EU driven regulation concerning interchange fees for card-based payment transactions has been discussed extensively both within the trade press and naturally within many organisations across the continent. One easily got the impression that it was all about the reduction in interchange fees to 0.2% for debit and 0.3% for credit cards as it took center stage.

Read more: June 9th - The Day of Non-Compliance?

By Peter Ehmke

We hear a lot about new FinTech startups, venture capital, disruption, the potential end of banks. We discuss the tipping point of innovation when the new world will finally have arrived. We go from conference to conference and read the plethora of daily newsletters. Sometimes it is good to step back from the day to day, take a look at the field from afar in order to better jump in again with clearer direction.

To read more, please follow the link below.

Click to Download PDF >> English

By Samee Zafar

The real business of banking is lending

If you set aside investment banking or trading in securities and derivatives – businesses that many say have little or nothing to do with banking – the primary services that a bank offers (taking customer deposits, facilitating payments within a country or internationally, managing investments etc.) all support or reinforce in some way, the real business of banking which is lending.

The basic economic principle of lending is simple: a loan like any other asset in a business, must contribute to its profitability. Its contribution to profits and the risk of its loss (if not repaid), represent forces that tug in opposite directions which must be kept in balance if a lender is to survive and succeed.

The higher the probability of default, the more the asset must earn to cover that loss.

Read more: ONLINE LENDING – WHERE TO?

By Samee Zafar

Research indicates that in the age of the social media and smartphones, we humans have become scatterbrained and shallow-minded. The attention span of a modern day infovorous and connected human being, has deteriorated from 12 seconds in 2000 to around 8 seconds.

For comparison and for dramatic effect, we are told even a gold fish has a longer attention span at 9 seconds.

Ignoring the validity of the findings and the dubiousness of any laboratory procedures that may have been invented to measure the mind of a goldfish, the inference to be drawn is that, thanks to tweets, texts, and status updates, we are regressing towards a state of primitive and shallow thinking.

Read more: Focus: Ecommerce

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) is probably one of the world’s largest industry events - part trade show, part conference, and part show-off venue for everything that is new in the world of mobile communications and connectivity.

For the better part of a week in February, it takes over the city of Barcelona attracting nearly one hundred thousand delegates from all around the world. A transport strike by Barcelona transport workers – metro and bus on alternating days – did not dampen the energy of the event nor disturb the order of events.

Read more: THE MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2016

By Samee Zafar

The Challenge of Fintech – Lending Against the Banks

Fintech companies challenge the status quo of established industries with fresh ideas and new technologies while offering better rates and better services to customers.

They face a tough challenge though. More than any other, the financial services industry is highly regulated. When things go wrong, the fallout is felt not only in the banking sector but in the entire economy. This was evident during the banking crisis of 2008/9 when banks and other lenders, bloated with bad loans, which they packaged and sold off to unsuspecting investors, had to be bailed out by governments in a state of panic, lest the loss of investments and deposits result in the loss of consumer confidence in the economy (and in turn the government).

Read more: Fintech - Broken Banks and New Lending

In February 2016, EDC director Samee Zafar was interviewed by French publication Publi-News.

« Le projet Orange constitue une opportunité en termes de modification des modèles bancaires », selon le cabinet Edgar Dunn & Company UK

Les ambitions d’Orange sur le marché bancaire ne sont pas une  nouveauté. Samee Zafar, consultant, cabinet Edgar Dunn & Company UK, répond aux questions de Publi-News sur les perspectives liées à l’annonce du projet de rachat de Groupama Banque et les stratégies des acteurs non bancaires sur le marché.

Read more: Samee Zafar Interviewed by Publi-News

By: Samee Zafar

In Fintech circles, the talk this year (when not about Bitcoin or Blockchain) has been about banking APIs. API’s or Application Programming Interfaces refer to instructions, procedures and tools that help computer systems talk to each other.

In the age of the Internet and data sharing (securely and with permission) by publishing APIs has become the cornerstone of business strategy for tech savvy companies.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin – all provide their APIs so that software developers can build programs and mobile apps that link directly to their sites and systems to query and retrieve content to enrich customer experience.

Google made APIs for Google Maps available. Companies such as Citymapper use these APIs to link with Google Maps (and other urban information providers) for their smartphone app that works in 29 cities.

Read more: Building Digital Bridges - Payment and Banking APIs

By Samee Zafar

There are now plenty of privately funded start-ups valued at over $1B (referred to as Unicorns) and some valued at over $10 billion (Decacorns). Those who have invested, talk their investments up. Those who have not, wait with baited breath for the inevitable stumble and fall for a bit of well-earned schadenfreude.

Valuing any business is fraught with difficulties because it requires predicting the future and very few of us are any good at that – more matter of opinion than the consequence of certain calculation.

For public companies stock markets collectively value their worth. Not to say they do so always accurately but on the whole market sentiment is a better indicator of a company’s worth than the judgment of a few private investors.

There are plenty of examples of highly valued companies sliding down the valuation scale after IPO’s which is partly because the market makes a better judge and partly the judgment of time. Etsy, Box, GoPro, and even Alibaba have all suffered from post IPO market hammering.

Read more: Opaque Optimism - The Calculus of Start-up Valuations

By Samee Zafar

The phrase “paradigm shift” is overused and dramatic and a longtime favourite on the conference circuit. But unlike other business clichés, “paradigm shift” comes with a philosophical background rooted deep in the history of science.

In his 1962 classic “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” the philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn asserted that scientific progress did not just occur through accumulated knowledge but that this process was interrupted by revolutionary shifts in thinking to the extent that established ideas and laws shifted towards new paradigms of thinking.

It is perhaps not too dissimilar to the Hegelian dialectic for resolving problems – the sequence of thesis, antithesis, and then synthesis. For Kuhn, arriving at a conclusion through Einstein’s Theory of Relativity did not prove Newton physics wrong but it changed the way the laws of physics were understood and applied. The theory of Relativity was one of the greatest paradigm shifts in science.

Read more: Paradigm Shifts

By Samee Zafar

The Time Has Come

“The time has come,” the Walrus said; “To talk of many things; Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax; Of cabbages--and kings..”

These lines from Lewis Caroll’s famous poem have been uttered so many times by economists who talk of global trade and commerce that many young economists may be forgiven for thinking that Lewis Caroll was an economist.

Forget economics, Lewis Carroll might well have been talking of Internet of Things.

Read more: Of Cabbages, Computers, and Things

by Mark Beresford

As retailers have enhanced their technical and business operations to better serve consumers across several channels, there has been a gap in dealing with fraudsters who are also adopting a cross channel approach.  In this respect, it is interesting to see all the exceptions to a standard ‘purchase’ transaction, particularly returned goods, which has been a specific area where different customer points of interaction did not properly communicate with each other.  This means that fraudsters are targeting the loopholes that have appeared due to the lack of connectivity across channels.  

Edgar, Dunn & Company (EDC) has found that many retailers do not treat different customer points of interaction individually, instead they take into account consumer behaviour and location to build a fraud strategy for each point of interaction - whether it is call centre, in-store customer service desk, a click and collect service desk, online, or at the point-of-sale.  Retailers are aiming to ensure a seamless customer experience across channels and they should equally tackle fraud across all channels. They need a cross-channel view of their customer’s purchasing history, browsing history and preferred channel history - in-store, on a smartphone, on a tablet, on a laptop, on a desktop, via an in-store kiosk - to ensure that a customer is a good customer and not deviating from their normal channel behaviour.  Transacting with retailers is now omni-channel.

Read more: Transacting with Retailers is now Omni-channel

By Gregoire Toussaint

Edgar, Dunn & Company has partnered with the Cartes Secure Connexions 2015 conference to provide a strategic overview of payments with wearables. Come and join us during Cartes Secure Connexions 2015 from November 17 to 19 in Paris to discuss innovation in payments over 140 conferences and network with senior executives in payments.

Grégoire Toussaint will chair the day on wearables and shares his perspectives on the strong potential of payments with wearables in the following infographic and article: Payments with Wearables

Read more: Payments with Wearables

By Samee Zafar

September 2015 

The article was previously published by the author on his independent blog and can be accessed, along with other writings, here.

For those who believe individual freedom trumps everything else and the right to privacy a fundamental human right, Bitcoin is the very embodiment of their political and social ideals. They remind us that it is still early days for crypto-currencies and a time will come when the decentralised and distributed internet will have its very own (or perhaps several) decentralised and distributed means of payment, digital currencies that are based on economic as well as scientific principles, safe from the inconstant policies of central banks, and the influences of irresponsible governments. Only cryptocurrencies are decentralised. Other digital currencies and virtual means of payment are issued and managed by central authorities.

Read more: Of Bitcoins and Blockchains...

By: Mark Beresford

Over the last few months Edgar, Dunn & Company (EDC) has been talking with retailers to understand their perspective and the business implications of technological advancements in 3D printing. The findings are very interesting as the expectation is that 3D printing will lead to changes in consumer power, personalisation, the protection of intellectual property, supply chains, payment processing and the traditional infrastructures associated with manufacturing.

The research has been summarised for the TSYS N>GENUITY Journal.

Click here to read to full article.

Jack Ma and the Discovery of Billions

By: Samee Zafar

August 2014

Jack Ma, onetime English teacher, who also did a stint as a civil servant, founded Alibaba in 1999. Today the Alibaba Group runs a panoply of highly successful and innovative businesses with 24,000 employees and combined revenue of $7.5 billion. It dominates online commerce in China. Ma himself is worth billions and is getting ready to become even richer as the group prepares for the biggest technology IPO in history at an estimated of value upwards of $130 billion.

Ma’s first few Internet ventures didn’t go well, including an online business directory–a sort of Yellow Pages business–he started in China soon after returning from the U.S. in 1995. But, that didn’t shake his almost messianic faith in the power of the Internet.

He saw his opportunity.

Read more at Jack Ma and the Discovery of Billions

From Atoms to Bits: The Digital Age of Money

By: Samee Zafar

February 2014

The urge to digitize is as old as the Internet. In his 1995 book “Being Digital,” Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of MIT’s Media Lab, predicted the Internet would transform physical forms of information, such as books and CDs (made up of “atoms” as he put it), to digital forms of information (made up of “bits”).

Today, we see the atoms-to-bits transformation everywhere. We use iPads, Kindles or other tablets to read books and newspapers at a time and place that suits us. CDs and DVDs rapidly are becoming relics and most book and music shops barely make ends meet.

Could this also be the fate of banking and payments?

Read more at From Atoms to Bits: The Digital Age of Money

Why Bitcoin Is Going Gangbusters and Why It Matters

By: Samee Zafar

November 2013

Many have exhausted the available management vocabulary to describe Bitcoin as a “killer app,” a “major disruptive technology” and a “powerhouse” that “lowers barriers to entry.” Already analysts trained in the field of quantitative finance are propounding theories on how to measure the “intrinsic value” of Bitcoin. They point to its soaring value and a little bit of incomprehensible magic that needs to be explained with incomprehensible equations. The price of a bitcoin went erratically upward earlier this year, then down in apparent free fall, before steadying itself and then zigzagging, like a high performance aerobatic plane experiencing engine trouble.* Surely, there must be the natural economic forces of supply and demand acting on its unpredictable trajectory. Where is the demand coming from?

Read more at Why Bitcoin Is Going Gangbusters and Why It Matters

Methods to Reduce Late Bill Payments

An article from Western Union focusing on methods for merchants to reduce late bill payments from their customers.

The article references conversations with Yogesh Oka from Edgar, Dunn & Company's San Francisco office.

 

Read more: Methods to Reduce Late Bill Payments (Western Union)

The Benefit of Recurring Payments

An article from Western Union focusing on the impact and benefits of recurring billing for merchants.

The article references conversations with Yogesh Oka from Edgar, Dunn & Company's San Francisco office.

Read more: The Benefits of Recurring Payments (Western Union)

Journal of Internet Business

An article from the Journal of Internet Business focusing on the use of cheques in small to medium businesses in Australia.

The paper extensively references research conducted by Edgar, Dunn & Company in the Australian market.

Click to Download PDF >> English

EFMA Magazine

Erik van Winkel, Manager at Edgar Dunn & Company writes about the business perspectives for financial services providers resulting from the Payment Services Directive

"Whereas the Sepa initiative, driven by the banking sector, aims to remove any technical and commercial barriers to integrate the fragmented European payments market, the PSD should remove any legal barriers and provide a harmonised legal framework for providing payment services in the internal market."

"Bien que l’initiative SEPA, promue par le secteur bancaire, vise à supprimer toute barrière technique et commerciale à l’entrée sur le marché européen fragmenté des paiements, la PSD devrait supprimer les barrières légales et proposer un cadre juridique harmonisé pour la prestation de services de paiement au sein du marché interne."

Select Language to Download >>   English   French

American Banker

EDC's Samee Zafar explains why mobile payments may now be postioned to gain greater acceptance and replace cash payments in a way that wasn't the case during the glory days of the "dot-com" boom. Mr. Zafar outlines the environmental changes in recent years and three critical factors that will determine who is left standing in this shifting landscape.

Click to Download PDF >> English