Technology Record - Issue 22: Autumn 2021

122 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om F E ATUR E BY L I ND S AY J AME S I f we’ve learnt anything over the course of the past 18 months, it’s that those organisations that are most likely to succeed are the ones that can adapt fast, no matter how uncertain the future. This remains true for financial services organ- isations, especially when it comes to payments. Indeed, the rapid shift to digital payments due to the Covid-19 pandemic is urgently increasing the need for banks to modernise their systems, according to Accenture’s Playing the Long Game in Payments Modernization study. In the report, Accenture forecasts nearly 420 bil- lion transactions worth US$7 trillion are expected to shift from cash to cards and digital payments by 2023 – and increase to US$48 trillion by 2030. The rapid move to digital payments has put additional pressure on banks, with three-quarters (75 per cent) of surveyed bank executives saying that the pandemic has increased the urgency of their plans to modernise payment systems. “Covid-19 has accelerated the shift to digital pay- ments at a pace banks could not have predicted,” said Sulabh Agarwal, who leads Accenture’s Payments practice globally, in the report. “The pandemic will permanently change how consum- ers shop and pay for products as they prioritise convenience above all else. While banks’ invest- ments in new payments systems have focused primarily on meeting compliance deadlines, the way they will drive value moving forward is by embracing the changing consumer dynamic and improving the customer experience.” Succeeding in this new operating environment requires banks to become nimble. “Agility has been a word that we’ve bounced around a lot,” says Peter Hazou, Microsoft’s director of business development for the financial services industry. “That’s because banks need to be adaptable for the future, because we don’t know what’s com- ing. Not least because emerging fintech competi- tors are all born in the cloud, have less operating costs than banks, and have more flexibility to pursue opportunities as they arise.” But the recent pandemic and competition from new entrants aren’t the only drivers of modernisation. “There’s a data story here too,” says Hazou. “In the past, banks haven’t paid much attention to the content of what’s in payments. They only had to think about regulatory requirements – they were not focusing on insights to create value. What we’ve seen with fintechs, however, is that there’s Banks recognise that they need to modernise their core systems if they want to succeed in a rapidly changing operating environment. Microsoft’s Peter Hazou outlines how Microsoft and its partner community are helping to make this as easy as possible Modernising payments the worlds of