On October 9, 2017, multi-billion dollar global consulting, technology, and outsourcing firm Capgemini released its World Payments Report 2017 (WPR 2017), which forecasts a 10.9 percent uptick in digital payments by 2020. BNP Paribas bank also contributed to the WPR 2017 prognosis, which listed an emerging ecosystem of payment options as one of the factors contributing to the surge in digital transactions. Both blockchain technology and an interconnected internet of things (IoT) are credited with increasing ease of spending on mobile devices. As per the report:
"Forays into new technologies such IoT and blockchain continued disruption by new entrants and growth in emerging markets, are expecting to shape and drive future payments growth. While new service offerings from FinTechs will continue to disrupt, consolidation in the mobile payments space could be a key theme as technology advances and other developments, such as the proliferation of in-app payments, continue."
WPR 2017 also indicated that corporate adoption of blockchain technology as payment systems would also accelerate, given the propensity for widely-applicable use cases. Bruno Mellado, global head of payments and receivables, BNP Paribas described a mutual desire between corporate and financial institutions for enhanced collaboration amid a changing environment. He said, “Multinational banks and corporations seek better industrywide standardization and harmony among regulations. As security issues are overcome, increased collaboration and partnership within the new payments ecosystem will create business value for corporates, banks, and FinTechs." Mellado added, "The new ecosystem may diminish most, but not all, challenges faced by banks and corporates. Industry participants can prepare for uncertainties as the payments ecosystem develops by working with banks and partners with the appropriate expertise.”
The report also mentions an expected transition in retail-based blockchain systems from applications that are solely used for security purposes to a wider range of operations, presenting a possibility to disrupt and "significantly redefine payments use cases." In that vein, the report forewarns regulators to walk a path of deference, stating:
"As the new technological innovation is transforming the payments landscape, regulators and central authorities are taking an interest in understanding the digitalization trends of the evolving payments industry. It is highly imperative for them to create a level playing field for all stakeholders in addition to implementing consistent standards for cybersecurity, data privacy, messaging formats, and interface standardization."
While it may be in its nascent stages, the WPR 2017 asserts that "Blockchain technology is expected to play a vital role in the new ecosystem, facilitating secure and real-time collaboration between stakeholders and enabling transparency of payments transactions."
Blockchain technology can deliver a framework for instant payments to institutions, as well as real-time verification of cross-border payment solutions, but before these systems can produce benefits, the hurdles of standardizing participation between multiple players must be overcome. According to the report, it is expected that digital identity authentication will also be bolstered by blockchain technology, and this will likely lead to innovations in supply chain finance and cross-border payments.
Anirban Bose, head of global banking and capital markets for Capgemini, detailed how banks should make the most of the current climate:
“Within this new and dynamic ecosystem, payments industry participants must strategically reassess their roles. Banks must embrace this opportunity to enhance their offerings in collaboration with FinTechs and third-party developers. Breakthrough technologies and significant industry advances, such as Open APIs, instant payments, blockchain, and regulatory standardization, will encourage collaboration.”