Interview with payments and liquidity expert: Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown, a payments and liquidity expert who has over 35 years’ experience in the banking sector and is the former Head of Global Transaction Services at a major high street lender, speaks to Perspective on all things fintech payments.
What does the ‘end-to-end payments expert’ mean to you?
“For me, the current demand for payment experience – at both the front and back end of the payments industry – is not just confined to fintech firms. The banking industry and payment service providers are also working hard to cultivate knowledge and develop resource that has an in-depth understanding on how payments work to reinforce their professional teams.
“After years of centralisation in services, much of the ‘end to end’ knowledge has been lost through automation to reduce costs and improve speed/service. With the current increase in new innovative fintech & bank payment services the need for “end to end” skills and knowledge across product, technology, operations and settlement to support these developments has become very clear. The industry is therefore having to respond to this historic fragmentation of talent with development programmes to ensure that today’s payments experts have that ‘end to end’ expertise”
What experience is most valued by fintech firms?
“Nowadays, the industry is all about the movement of information. Understanding how data and money moves together and how we can manage risks and protect against fraud are top of the agenda. Essentially, fintech firms are looking for people that can help them navigate the regulatory, compliance, fraud, and settlement processes to ensure the innovative products developed can meet the demands of consumers and businesses for safety and security”
There is a global race for talent in the fintech sector. How is London faring as a centre for the industry and what must the city do to remain competitive against the likes of San Francisco and Berlin?
“Creating the right environment to attract investment is one of the most important factors in securing the future of the industry in the UK. The UK already has good reputation for innovation in financial services and payments. The underpinning of this with the continued development of good professional standards and knowledge is key to ensure that we are at the cutting edge.
“But, let’s not forget that the UK has been at the forefront of the payments industry for some time. London’s strength in the sector is nothing new. In fact, the UK’s leadership in developing a broad ubiquitous 24/7 real-time payments system, which is something we all take for granted now, is proving a catalyst for the development of similar systems in Australia, Europe and the US.
“However, with these developments elsewhere, competition is intensifying for the UK to hold its lead. We need to create better data-handling capabilities if we are to keep up with the pace of change in the industry and unlock the benefits of true real-time e-commerce.”
Can the fintech sector expand outside of London? What more must be done by the Government to encourage the sustainable growth of the sector in the UK?
“Fintech is already flourishing outside of London supported by regional investment and improved telecom/technology capability. Regions often have their own areas of specialism as they transform traditional payment related activity particularly in the world of e-commerce and the use of data that facilitates transactions.”
With so many changes for organisations around Payments and the introduction of PSD2 in 2018 what do you think is the biggest opportunity for companies?
“PSD2 will drive further innovation as the potential for new services emerge particularly in the planned changes to allow third party access to payment accounts. This will create further need and opportunity for those with ‘end-to-end’ payment knowledge to shape how these services operate safely and securely.”
“I also believe the next few years will see a significant increase in the broader innovation of real-time payments and real-time e-commerce. It is the creation of these new service offerings, with greater use of data, which will improve the ‘end to end’ experience for consumers and business, and thereby providing the biggest opportunity for companies. There are however threats, and we will need to ensure there is a continued focus on fighting fraud and cybercrime to ensure that confidence in the integrity and resilience of these new payment services is not undermined.”