Payments are taking a 'big digital leap forward' and there's no turning back

Thursday 10 September 2020 08:47 CET | Editor: Stefana Ivan | Interview

Damien Perillat, SVP, Global Online at Ingenico Group, reveals key takeaways regarding the potential of the ‘high-growth markets’ and the ‘digital wakeup call’ that industries face during the COVID-19 pandemic

Could you please share with our readers your professional background, as well as your experience of joining a company during a pandemic and what made you excited about joining Ingenico?

Prior to joining Ingenico in April 2020, I worked for more than a decade with PayPal, in the EMEA region. I’ve spent a lot of time working on geographical expansion in Eastern Europe and Russia, and most recently, I was running PayPal’s Western Europe business, including the main European markets outside of the UK and Germany.

This experience has sparked my passion for the digital business environment. I find the way ecommerce and payments connect people fascinating, especially as we are witnessing so much innovation lately. 

Although joining a new company during the pandemic may be challenging, it’s an exciting journey to take for various reasons. Firstly, Ingenico is one of the few payment companies with a true end-to-end offering, operating both offline and online, while having a unique global reach. Moreover, it has been announced that Ingenico is going to be acquired by Worldline, a European leader in the payments and transactional services, and the merger of the two companies might create one of the new global champions in the payment industry. 

The height of COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the consumers’ behaviour, driving them to shift the way they pay towards cashless payment methods. How has this change impacted the ecommerce industry?

It feels like we jumped 10 years forward, as the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown have been a massive ‘digital wakeup call’ for many industries. We have seen a great shift to online consumption, and digital-only behaviours. It took almost 20 years for ecommerce to reach roughly 15% of penetration of consumer spending. However, in the last 3-4 months, this number has doubled in some markets – a significant change that is driven by these low-touch circumstances that the world has been put through.

For the most, COVID-19 has been a big catalyst for transition, but for some verticals, such as travel and airlines, it has been a disrupting period. Yet, it is interesting to see how these categories found ways to adapt, by introducing new models and formats, more around staycation or regional travel. 

As for Ingenico, our large footprint in China was of great advantage, as it helped us to grasp the implications of the pandemic from the very beginning, thus we adapted to this situation early. 

The increase of ecommerce brought new challenges for online merchants that serve different geographies. Due to market fragmentation of available payment options, high costs, and slow settlement speed, cross-border payments are really demanding for them. How does Ingenico support ecommerce businesses in adapting to these challenges? 

Despite the travel and people movement restrictions, cross-border payments haven’t been really affected, as many people continue to purchase goods and services from different countries.  Moreover, during the lockdown, many categories, such as gaming, digital services, but also cross-border retail and marketplaces have gained momentum. 

Payments are local, while ecommerce is global – as it has a notion of scale – thus, most of the leading digital commerce brands are multi-country or global. Therefore, we expect further development of cross-border commerce, as it plays a crucial role in the overall acceleration of ecommerce. 

At Ingenico, our mission of supporting these connected economies is further reinforced. We will continue to enable global merchants and global brands to do business across the globe and tap into local market opportunities while removing all the complexity, the barriers, and the friction that may impede a streamlined payment experience. 

High growth markets like Russia, India, Brazil, and China have displayed great potential for growth in recent years, yet they are likely now to be highly affected by an upcoming crisis. How do you see the business environment evolving in those markets? Is it still a great deal to tap into them?

From my point of view, the so-called ‘emerging markets’ are actually ‘the leading markets’ setting a good example of innovation and digitization. The growth opportunities in these markets are driven by a very high percentage of young, tech-savvy population, with ambitious entrepreneurs, and successful stories. Our role is to help global merchants and global brands to scale their business in those markets, while offering them solutions to adapt to different environments, ecosystems, and regulations.

Alternative payment methods are a common aspect present in these markets. Payments through e-wallets or online banking are becoming the norm in those countries, and for merchants is key to offer the preferred payment methods in that specific market. 

Lastly, I believe that by connecting these markets, we’re building bridges that enable new opportunities for collaboration. Thanks to technology, digital payments, and ecommerce, we can create an outstanding network across the globe, while continuing to offer support, financial inclusion, and commerce inclusion.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2020, what other challenges do you see for merchants? 

The end of 2020 – which is a peak season for ecommerce with Singles' Day in China, Black Friday, and the pre-holiday shopping – is going to be monumental, considering that the baseline of customers spending online has increased in the first part of the year. This means that merchants need to be well-prepared for a large increase in the volume sales that will be coming through their digital channels. Moreover, they need to offer customers their preferred payment methods based on where they are located. This should not be underestimated as we expect record-breaking sales during the holiday season.

How do you see the future of the payments industry, more as a ‘revolution’ or an ‘evolution’ paradigm, and why?

I wouldn’t say it’s an evolution or a revolution – I believe we are somewhere in the middle. The industry is taking ‘a big leap forward’, as we’ve seen a massive acceleration of something that was already taking place. For instance, cash payments vanished during the pandemic, while the adoption of digital solutions by the older demographics has increased. 

For digital commerce and digital payments, this ‘new normal’ is going to be very different from how it was before, as until very recently, we still had over 80% of consumers spending offline, and this percentage has been reduced dramatically during the pandemic.

The mix between offline and online has been changed, and I believe this is going to last in terms of payment methods too, as we saw a massive reduction of cash payments offline. Besides, the traditional payment methods have been benefiting a lot from the digital shift too, and we have been seeing more and more adoption of new solutions such as e-wallets, instant banking payments, or ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ programmes.

There is a lot of innovation that will continue to accelerate in the coming months and years.

About Damien Perillat

Damien Perillat joined Ingenico in April of 2020 and leads the Global Online Business Line, which is the digital payment arm of Ingenico Group servicing large enterprises. Damien has extensive international experience working in various countries throughout Europe and Asia. Before joining Ingenico, Damien was General Manager for Western Europe at PayPal and prior to this led Southern Europe for PayPal. At PayPal he worked on the launch and development of PayPal services in various key markets, such as in Russia and in Central and Eastern Europe. Prior to PayPal, Damien worked for GE Money in Europe and Asia, and as a management consultant in France.

About Ingenico

Ingenico ePayments is the online and mobile commerce division of Ingenico Group. We connect merchants and consumers, enabling businesses everywhere to go further beyond today’s boundaries, creating the future of global commerce. As industry leaders since 1994, our innovative spirit drives us forward across all channels. We are the trusted partner of over 65,000 small and large merchants who rely on us to make payments easy and secure for their customers. With advanced data analytics, fraud management solutions and cross-border commerce expertise, we help merchants optimise their business and grow into new markets around the world.

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Keywords: Damien Perillat, Ingenico, PayPal, COVID-19, consumer behaviour, cashless payment methods, ecommerce, staycation, merchants, cross-border payments, Marketplaces, Russia, India, Brazil, China, alternative payment methods, digital payments, e-wallets, buy now pay later
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: World
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