How to innovate in a locked-down world
The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to combat it have had many broader effects on society, one of which was bringing an entirely new segment of customers into using digital payments.
Take the 13 million people in Latin America who used Visa contactless payments for the first time in the first quarter of 2020, according to Visa data1, for example. And customers aren’t just changing their habits online. Needs and wants across key areas such as travel, sustainability and community are altering rapidly compared to what was forecast even a few months ago, meaning companies have to adapt and respond quickly. With all that in mind, how can companies innovate and create new solutions that meet these evolving customer needs, all whilst working remotely? “With customer needs that have changed and been reprioritized, we have an exciting opportunity to build new propositions and services that they want,” said Mathieu Altwegg.
Virtual innovation works
The pandemic acted as a catalyst for Visa to transform the way we run our innovation practice with clients, moving our global network of Innovation Centers overnight from a face-to-face to a virtual model. “Virtual innovation with our clients has been, in many ways, more efficient. For instance, what used to be an all-day in-person workshop in our Innovation Center has turned into a series of shorter remote sprints. This allows us to be more iterative and flexible as we’re designing the vision for new digital products, with the opportunity to reflect between sessions and modify our approach as needed,” Mathieu said.
There are also some best practices to help virtual sessions be as effective and engaging as possible, including making sure you have access to the right virtual collaboration tools, such as MURAL. “Some of our discussions with our clients are just about how they should organise themselves to drive their solution development remotely.” Mathieu said.
Digital is now essential for everyone
The pandemic has highlighted both the pace of change that is needed, and the importance of digital products and services in the lives of consumers and businesses across the globe.
“Many companies have an idea of what they need to do, and likely already had it on their two to five year roadmap, but this situation has highlighted the need to drastically accelerate the development of digital-first experiences that meet customers’ needs.” Mathieu Altwegg
If you think about banking, some banks still require in-branch account opening and rely on physical card issuance, whereas others are able to seamlessly offer digital on-boarding and digital instant card issuance. These digital-first capabilities ideally position them to best meet consumers’ needs in a rapidly evolving world – with digital instant activation, you’re always open for business and not reliant on manual processes and prolonged fulfilment timelines.
Travel may never be the same
Domestic travel is a burgeoning opportunity, as people start to venture outside their home environment but not across borders. For example, they will rent holiday homes – but within their home countries. And how and when we commute is changing, with huge spikes in bike sales and e-scooter usage. “We need to pivot and think about how to address travel propositions differently,” Mathieu said. In the long-term, supporting international travel should still be in focus, but there is an opportunity to meet consumer needs in a meaningful and relevant way in the short term while we wait to see how international travel evolves.
Sustainability remains vital
The increasing focus on sustainability has been further fast-tracked by the circumstances around the pandemic, and polling by the Innovation Center team during remote sessions indicates that over 80 percent of people believe that providing sustainable propositions to their customers has become more important to their business than it was before COVID-19. “We are now working with several clients on how to include sustainable initiatives within their banking propositions, such as how payments data can help consumers better understand their footprint and how they can take positive actions to live a more sustainable life.” Mathieu Altwegg
Helping people help other people
As a result of the pandemic, we see an increase in community-driven actions for good. People have found ways to help each other and support their local businesses. Accordingly, the need for shared access banking has continued to grow. “Think about it, if you can securely share a digital payment credential between trusted parties, we can enable services such as helping an elderly neighbour with their shopping, or parents to give their children access to digital payments,” Mathieu said.
Click here to learn more about the consumer research the Innovation & Design team previously conducted on parent-child banking.
Small businesses are leading the charge
Some of the most inspiring examples of pivoting your approach due to the pandemic, and rapidly meeting your customer’s new needs, have come from small businesses. From bakers in Paris to food stalls in Singapore, smaller merchants with very little online presence had to quickly change to using Facebook Live or Instagram, for example, as an online storefront. The roll out of SoftPOS technology to accept payment instantly through mobile will further empower these types of businesses.
“We have a rare window to act quickly and create these new propositions to help consumers adapt to their adjusted way of life, both now and in the long-term.” Mathieu Altwegg
Key takeaways from Mathieu Altwegg:
- Virtual innovation is working
- Companies need to reflect consumer behavioural change with new digital products
- If you don’t adapt, then you won’t connect with the end user
Mathieu Altwegg is the Head of Innovation & Design for Europe.
Mathieu joined Visa Europe last year, after having spent several years in Asia leading innovation collaboration with Visa's clients in that region. Believe it or not, his first love with Design came from an early career as a Graffiti artist.
The Innovation & Design team aim to be the partner of choice for Visa’s clients to accelerate their innovation by creating commerce solutions that are smarter, faster, and safer for their customers. We are a full stack team of product managers, designers, engineers, strategists, payment enthusiasts, and thought leaders, who are all passionate champions for customer experience.
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