Of the industry leaders who came together during our first Flywire Forward virtual fintech event recently, one guest was rather unexpected. During a rich discussion on neobanking, a cat gracefully popped into the panelists’ frame for a few seconds, providing an apt metaphor for the topics of the day.
As a quick glance of their history informs, it doesn’t appear that we had a hand in formally training cats to come into our lives and homes as pets. They knew their utility and they just sort of came in. We liked them, so they stayed. In such a way, cats gained a spot as a favored pet, assimilating in a very natural way into the human story.
When we think of technologies that entered our lives in an almost unnoticed way and quickly became part of it, digital payments are high up there. As was clear from the event, digitized payments are becoming table stakes across every industry - far outside of retail and ecommerce. Emerging fintech developments are in view. And as we move closer toward embedded finance, leaders at the event discussed, industry lines are not only blurring, they’re erased, and every organization will need fintech capabilities.
Gathering together some of the many insights shared by Flywire’s industry experts, along with finance and fintech industry leaders, here’s a quick glance at some takeaways.
Digital payment options are in demand and increasingly in use across industries that have been traditionally heavy on paper billing. These industries are now some of the biggest drivers of payment innovation.
Technology enables the flexibility needed to deliver new payment experiences. As examples, educational institutions are customizing payment plans to closely mirror needs dictated by varied financial circumstances of their students. Healthcare providers are using analytics to build personalized payment plans that boost collection, and to empower patients by even offering a look at the costs of some medical procedures before they’re completed.
Consolidated billing is in demand because it offers a single pane through which patients, as an example, can view and manage expenses for siloed services. On the flip side, travelers, for instance, demand payment capabilities to seamlessly split expenses for a group travel experience.
Organizations are using communication channels beyond traditional bills and call centers, including automated alerts sent through email, text, online chat and more, to engage customers and provide solutions.
Flexibility drives affordability, helping to reduce overall borrowing or other life-altering actions people may take to afford high-value expenses or purchases. Whether they are essential or simply desired, expenses, purchases and experiences are put within broader reach.
Alternative rails are gaining attention. As Money 20/20 Chief Strategy & Growth Officer Scarlett Sieber offered, a payment option like Buy Now Pay Later may not be a new concept at its core, but it offers unique access to data to improve and personalize customer experience.
As demand for new payment corridors continues to increase, organizations will need to move fast and remove roadblocks created by legacy systems to enable ease of currency exchange.
Blockchain technology can provide real advantages, and cryptocurrencies are relevant. Our fintech panelists offered somewhat differing views on when bitcoin and stablecoins might reach the mainstream, but agreed that they serve unique purposes, will increase in importance and that regulation will play a major role in their acceptance and adoption.
Talking about the relationship between neobanks and incumbent banking infrastructure, Citi CIO Vanessa Colella and Bain Capital Partner Matt Harris wove a biological metaphor, with the latter framing it as a “Cambrian explosion,” not a “winner take all.” How a frontier moves forward, Colella explained, is “very rarely one organism goes out on its own in front of everyone else, because then there’s nothing around it to sustain it.” They’ll instead work together to engage clients and provide a real depth of products and services.
While they may not have been the earliest adopters, healthcare, education, travel and many B2B companies, as CEO Mike Massaro put it, are “at the beginning of this massive digitization trend or wave.” They’re poised to lead payments innovation, as the new technologies they push into their customer experiences continue to provide capabilities that are, “a jumping-off point of a whole new life for many people.”
Watch the entire Flywire Forward event here.
What industry leaders say on...
...creating affordability in education:
“Traditionally, you've seen very rigid payment plans, but now with software and automation we can very easily give the power and flexibility to both the institution and students, so that they can quickly customize plans to meet varying financial circumstances.”
- Sharon Butler, Flywire EVP & GM, Education
... payment for group trips and experiences as part of the customer experience in travel:
“We’re seeing lots of people organize group travel, pay up front, and then have to chase their friends to get paid back. Increasingly, there is an expectation to allow each traveler to pay directly, without putting the burden on one person.”
- Colin Smyth, Flywire VP & GM, Travel
...the value of consolidated billing in healthcare:
“We're offering patients payment options based on a total amount rather than in silos, based on different services. That’s really critical in healthcare in terms of how payment plans are playing a more strategic role.”
- John Talaga, Flywire EVP & GM, Healthcare
….shift in B2B billing:
“Think about the approach that a CMO, or a customer relationship manager might take to their customer experience. That approach is starting to apply to the finance office and to the company’s vendors. They are really streamlining that experience, and looking at it more like a customer, than a vendor, that they're billing.”
- Ryan Frere, Flywire EVP & GM, B2B
...encouraging inclusive capitalism:
“Just making it easier, taking that friction out of the system, I'm amazed all the time as we hear from payers who say, ‘Hey, this process helped save me time, energy, or I'm excited to…’ It's the jumping-off point of a whole new life for many people.”
- Mike Massaro, Flywire CEO