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Navigating the new normal
Future of money
Security
Sustainability
Economic insights
Visa views
Innovation experiences

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Charlotte Hogg

June 2021

 

5 - 6 Minutes

In conversation with Adyen: why seamless experiences are the key to success in the new era of payments

Consumers’ shopping habits are changing rapidly – and payments are evolving with them. Here, Charlotte Hogg, Visa Europe’s Chief Executive Officer, talks to Edgar Verschuur, the Global Head of Acquiring for global payments platform Adyen, on the shape of the future: where e-commerce will go next, what consumers want from merchants and issuers, and how to lead businesses through this new landscape.

We recently staged the Visa Payments Forum, our flagship biennial event for our clients across Europe, on a wholly digital basis for the first time– a reminder of just how we have all embraced the medium that has supported consumers, merchants and economies over the last extraordinary 12-plus months. As we look ahead, Visa is focused on working with our clients to successfully navigate the many challenges and opportunities arising from this accelerated move to online.

I see three big themes at play.

  • First, the shift to digital is irreversible, permanently altering the way we all live, including, of course, how we make purchases.
  • Second, the moment of payment is becoming ever more invisible and frictionless – a phenomenon that is already shaping consumers’ habits and expectations.
  • Lastly, I believe our new behaviours around digital have the potential to make our economies more inclusive and more sustainable as they recover. Whether that’s in public transport, allowing us to move through our cities using contactless technologies, or in managing data, to help us make better choices in the way that we allocate resources, digital offers real opportunities.

With these three themes in mind, I was delighted to catch up with Edgar Verschuur, Global Head of Acquiring for payments platform Adyen, and hear more about the company’s insightful report on how consumer trends are shaping commerce.

50% of retailers taking a unified approach saw transactions remain consistent during the pandemic1

Charlotte Hogg (CH): Adyen recently published a report that argues the road to recovery lies in reinvention for retail services. Merchants have obviously had a very challenging year. Can you talk about what you're thinking of when you're describing that process of reinvention?

Edgar Verschuur (EV): We've always believed in the power of unified commerce, where payments from all retail channels feed into the same system for a seamless shopper experience and better merchant insights. It’s all about making sure that our customers can reach out to their shoppers wherever they are – whether it's in a store, online, or in an app – and give them the best possible payment experience for each shopping interaction.

The research done for our report highlighted how unified commerce contributed to resilience for our customers: when stores had to close suddenly at the start of the pandemic, we've seen that the merchants that already had a strategy and the technical capabilities in place were actually able to quickly shift channels with limited business impact.

Of course, a lot of our focus has also gone to helping out those merchants that were maybe still in doubt about how to deal with, or set up, their online channels. One of the things we've developed is “Pay by Link”, a quick integration option that allows a merchant to share a secure payment link with their shoppers to finalize an order over any of their digital channels, allowing the shopper to pay with their preferred online payment method. A lot of retailers have proven to be very innovative in still reaching out to their shoppers, with virtual tours in their stores, phone calls and consultations, or WhatsApp messages – and in the moment that a sale is closed, of course, the payment process is an important component.

We focus continuously on helping our merchants grow. Whether it’s about expanding into new countries, adding new payment methods or payment technology, or selling across new channels. The past year has been rather challenging for merchants, due to the pandemic, the introduction of Strong Customer Authentication and Brexit on top of that for merchants with European business. With our platform and product developments we’ve tried to reduce impact of these significant changes for our customers.

Seeing unified commerce now in practice across the world, and helping merchants to adapt their payment flows to facilitate this, has made for quite an interesting year – challenging, but exciting at the same time.

 

CH: You have encapsulated this vision of unified commerce. What does it mean for us as consumers who are now going back into stores and going back into shopping physically?

EV: Looking at the online space, retailers are typically very focused on getting their first sale with a consumer, and building a relationship from there: for instance through storing their card on file, or creating a personal profile and attaching loyalty rewards to that. Doing that across different channels is really effective, and requires a single backend system in our view.

Some bricks-and-mortar retailers having gone fully online during the pandemic, and shoppers are now gradually returning to their point-of-sale or physical spaces. Being able to recognize shoppers during this transition, and making sure that they can still pay in the way they prefer – maybe allowing them to collect points, while continuing to build on the relationship that has been built over to over the past period – is really powerful.

One of the things we’ve discussed is how consumer behaviour may have shifted. A year ago, some consumers were already e-commerce natives, but a lot of shoppers would have still preferred physical stores as the only option. Basically, all consumers have now built experiences with online shopping – and they will probably expect to keep the convenience factor when they go back to physical stores. Each retailer has been thinking through how to get a consumer into a store in a convenient way, and how to make sure that the store continues to add value for their brand.

CH: And lastly, I know you've been thinking hard, as all of us have, about how do we return to the office. What does that look like and what role does technology play? Could you share with us a little bit about what you're thinking at Adyen, because it’s really thoughtful.

EV: What we always try to do is ask – a lot! – for feedback. First of all, from the merchants we work with, who define everything we build, and second of all, by including our colleagues globally (we now have 24 offices), making sure that we get a lot of different perspectives on the same idea.

Now that everyone is in a work-from-home situation – at least in most countries – this has been quite an equalizer in a way: everyone is just one click away. It doesn't matter who's in the office, you need to reach out anyway, over the phone or over one of the video tools. And that's a very easy way to include other perspectives. It’s happened numerous times to me: you're in a chat with someone, let's say from the U.K., and you add someone from Singapore into the same conversation, just to get a completely different view. And that's definitely something we want to keep, now that the offices are slowly reopening.

The office will have a very clear purpose – we’re a big believer in the dynamic and energy that an office environment gives to teams. But there are also many benefits around the technology and habits that have been developed. We need to be careful not to go back a couple of years, but really use the best tools available. There's actually quite a parallel, I think, with payments.

Behaviours and expectations shift – and technology is the enabler to get the best out of every scenario.

Charlotte Hogg is Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer for Visa’s European Operations. Previously, Charlotte served as Deputy Governor and Chief Operating Officer for the Bank of England, and led retail distribution for Santander in the UK. She graduated from the University of Oxford with a B.A. in Economics and History and was a Kennedy Memorial Trust Scholar at Harvard University.

Edgar Verschuur is Head of Global Acquiring for Adyen, focusing on geographical expansion, product innovation and operational excellence for Adyen full-stack platform. Before joining the company in 2015, Edgar worked on payments consulting projects in the Netherlands and UAE. He holds a BSc. in Applied Physics and a MSc in Management of Technology, both from Delft University of Technology.

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1Approximate figure which comes from the analysis of anonymized data from Adyen’s global payment platform comparing unified commerce performance in Q1 2019 with Q1 2020.

All brand names, logos and/or trademarks are the property of their respective owners, are used for identification purposes only, and do not necessarily imply product endorsement or affiliation with Visa.

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