Why payment modernization is a must for banks in 2024

Written by Gareth Lodge Senior Analyst, Payments
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We’re pleased to announce this paper that looks at the need for payment modernization, which sets out not just the why, but also the how too. The time for procrastination is over. Here’s a little preview of the report.

If payment modernization consisted of one or more quick, cheap, easy, or risk-free changes, banks would have already done it. It’s not that they don’t want to, but more that they are trapped between the risk of moving and the risk of staying.

The complexity of moving and the cost and risk of doing so mean that while many recognize the need for change, it doesn’t happen as quickly as we’d like. Consequently, recently the industry has elevated its talking about the critical need for payments modernization. One-third of bank representatives from both Europe and APAC that responded to a recent Celent survey, stated that payments modernization is a top three priority for 2024. Yet those banks that have yet to modernize are not just falling behind but are also putting, at best, their competitiveness at risk and, at worst, their ability to operate. As a result, it’s often just been easier to keep maintaining the current situation.

Banks have traditionally been hampered by their ability to innovate because of their technology. The cost and risk of making changes made it difficult to offer anything tailored to all but the biggest clients. And when banks did innovate, the changes were often hardcoded into the solutions, making any future change complex.

In short, banks could not afford to modernize, but now they can no longer afford not to.

While drivers for change are clear, banks shouldn’t fall into the trap that these are the requirements for a new system. They will form part of the requirements but should not be the sole reason. For example, many banks have sought lower-cost solutions, only to find that cost saving comes at, well, a cost.

Celent advocates starting with having a clear vision of what you need to achieve today, and a view of the next five years as a minimum. Too few banks that Celent works with have any form of payments strategy. Given that most systems that are being replaced are at least a decade old (and usually significantly more), that vision should have a view on at least the next five years, if not 10. It doesn’t need to be precise, but at least a broad understanding of “what if” based on a number of scenarios. This should drive a strategy for payments infrastructure. This takes it one step deeper and looks at things such as what systems will need upgrading and when; what systems are lagging and by how many versions; how resilient, scalable, and secure are the systems, and how can you maintain that.

While the target operating model needs to also consider people and processes, at the heart of it will be technology. A modern payment hub solution will enable banks to optimize and improve processes, reduce duplication of efforts, and increase payment processing automation across multiple payment types, which in turn, will lead to increased operational efficiency, reduced operational costs, improved risk management, and enhanced customer experiences and, above all, will provide the infrastructure to support future innovation. Banks should also understand the pre-processing features and additional value they can benefit from when evaluating a payment hub solution. For example, some payment hubs will include validation and enrichment of payments information to maximize transaction execution success. Another example would be a Smart Routing capability, which allows banks to determine the optimal payment route based on preconfigured rules and criteria, ensuring efficient and/or the fastest transaction delivery.

A final observation. Payments modernization is, within a bank, likely a once in a generation event. Many staff might go through their working career and only do one ever – if at all. It’s worth considering then that this is pretty much all vendors do. A good vendor is about more than just their technology but should be a partner or guide in the process. They will bring to bear their experience gained from many other implementations, help the bank decide what is possible, and plot a path towards it. Choosing the right partner is as important as choosing the right solution.

The report obviously goes into more detail. Banks clearly should modernize their payment systems – but even more clearly, only after the reading the report!

Download full report for Payments Modernization: The imperative for payments modernization: Doubling down before it’s too late

Written by
Gareth Lodge

Gareth Lodge

Senior Analyst, Payments

Gareth's research focuses on Payments. As part of the payments team, his prime focus is on corporate payments, working closely with his colleagues in the Corporate Banking team.

He is a leading expert on:

  • bank payment processing, and is the analyst who has been covering payment services hubs the...

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