Medill News Service: Banks have enough consumer trust to move into emerging payment technology, experts say


Hannah Levitt/Medill News Service

Karen Webster, CEO and founder of PYMNTS.com

Banks should be able to take advantage of consumer trust in their institutions and products to capitalize on emerging payment technologies, according to specialists at the American Banking Association Payments Forum on Friday.

Karen Webster, CEO and founder of PYMNTS.com, said that bankers should be able to develop payment processes that are both easy and safe, provided that they give users what they want while retaining consumer protections.

“You guys have the opportunity to leverage the trust that consumers have in your products,” Webster said.

She cited a recent study by PYMNTS.com and Visa to explain how evolving payment technology is integrating into the lives of consumers. Of 2,584 U.S. consumers surveyed across all demographics, 75% own more than four devices.

Data privacy and data/product security are the top concerns when using connected devices to pay for products and services, according to the PYMENTS.com/Visa study. Webster said consumers already use, like and trust banks and bank products.

At the same time, she acknowledged that emerging payment opportunities present potential challenges for bankers.

“We don’t know what’s coming next in terms of devices or experiences, but it’s very important to keep your eyes open and not get locked into closed ecosystems that limit your opportunity or small environments that are too closed to allow you to scale,” Webster said.

Think about where the money is, think about what problems consumers have and how they can be solved, and leverage existing experiences to make them better, Webster said. She emphasized the importance of maintaining consumer loyalty as physical interaction with banking products diminishes. Increasingly, she noted, consumers will be using wireless payment methods rather than removing cards from their wallets to pay for goods or services.

American Banking Association Vice President Steve Kenneally agreed with Webster’s warning about consumer safety and security. He emphasized the importance of the balancing those concerns with consumer demand.

Kenneally said that the ABA is supportive of emerging technologies and emerging payments in all forms.

“I think it is important for banks to stay on top of this new technology because banks ultimately need to provide the service that their customers want in order to stay in business,” Kenneally said. “Banks need to know what the customer demand is and meet that demand.”

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