Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) raises a number of issues that the payment industry needs to be aware of.

Tony Craddock, director-general of The Payments Association, weighs in.

The rise of certain technologies like generative AI in 2023 has heralded a great deal of transformative change that will shape how the payments industry develops in 2024. As these changes become more apparent, it is imperative that the payments sector cooperates to enable consumers to pay and be paid securely and conveniently.

The three factors that will inform the payments sector over the next year will be the rise of innovative digital currencies, the new initiatives that will serve to combat APP fraud, and the importance of proportionate regulation. All three of these were highlighted in The Payment Association’s Payments Manifesto.

It’s imperative that we foster a flourishing digital currencies ecosystem, starting with stablecoins, or S-Money, as it is now known. This requires global interoperability, ensuring seamless transactions across borders and platforms. We must also attract talent and investment from around the world to fuel innovation and growth in this burgeoning space. In short, we need to run towards innovation, not away from it.

Meanwhile, we must constantly err towards the best interests of the consumer and that means combatting APP fraud, which has become a significant threat to the integrity of our services. Cross-industry data sharing is essential to effectively identify and prevent fraudulent activities. By working together, we can safeguard consumers and businesses alike.

Finally, we must strike a balance between innovation and regulation. In recent years, the regulatory pendulum has swung so far towards consumer protection that the entrepreneurial fire of innovation is being snuffed out. A proportionate regulatory framework is crucial to fostering responsible growth and protecting consumer interests.

We must avoid stifling innovation with overly burdensome rules and enforcement of them while also ensuring that our systems remain sufficiently safe and secure. By embracing innovation, collaborating to combat fraud, and advocating for proportionate regulation, 2024 can be a year where payments are more secure, convenient and accessible to all.

Thinking even further into the future, here are my additional predictions:

* Open Banking: In the face of rapidly increasing fraud and new regulations around consumer duty, Third Party Payment Providers (TPPs) will need to implement enhanced fraud prevention tools to drive confidence in open banking payments and protect consumers against losses (like card scheme-based liability protection mechanisms, including chargeback dispute resolution). As the growing need for consumer protection increases the cost of open banking payments, the business case for such payments will be diminished for merchants.

* Open Finance: As companies recognise the potential of data and AI, they will refocus their open banking efforts from payment initiation (Payment Initiation Service Provider – PISP) to data utilisation (Account Information Service Provider – AISP) to improve accuracy, efficiency, and customer experience. The data angle will become even more beneficial as we evolve into Open Finance with the participation of non-bank financial institutions, such as mortgage, insurance, pension, and investment companies.

* Wallets: Consumers will increasingly leave the house without physical cards or cash and will demand the acceptance of digital and mobile wallets with biometric authentication to make purchases both online and in person. Merchant failure to accept popular wallets will increasingly result in shopping cart abandonment, which has already reached 70% in the case of e-commerce, due to the friction involved in needing to have the physical card available. Additionally, QR codes will increasingly be introduced across the customer journey, including information, membership, ticketing, loyalty, ordering and payments.

* Super Apps: Wallets and digital banks will endeavour to increase their ubiquity, usage, and customer engagement by evolving into super-apps. To achieve this status, they will broaden their service offerings to customers, including investing, lending, savings, loyalty, and P2P payments, as well as embed commerce and high engagement activities through lite apps, such as shopping, ticketing, transportation, delivery, or messaging. Consumers, particularly Gen Z and Millennials, will increasingly adopt such wallets due to subscription fatigue, convenience, and slick user experience.”

* Digital Currency: The percentage of UK adults owning cryptocurrency was over 10% in 2022, compared with 4.5% in 2021, which shows a growing interest in crypto assets. In 2022, 28% of non-crypto asset holders said that they would be more likely to buy cryptocurrency if the market was regulated. Additionally, it is becoming much easier to obtain crypto assets through popular wallets, like PayPal and Revolut. As merchants observe this growing trend, they will explore new ways of accepting popular cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum to gain a share of spend. As acceptance increases, so will the adoption of crypto assets, creating a flywheel effect. (Note: The figures in the US are more than double that of the UK, which may propel big tech companies in the US to accept cryptocurrencies more widely than in the UK.)