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Peter Churchill, CEO International at In-Solutions Global (ISG) on the development of a versatile digital payment network in the UAE

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Published: Tue 28 Dec 2021, 12:28 PM

Last updated: Tue 28 Dec 2021, 12:30 PM

The Middle East embodies a fulcrum between Asia Pacific and Africa, where ISG serves leading banks and fintechs, processing 8 per cent of ISG’s annual global transaction volume of 18 billion. The IMF estimates regional cross-border trade in 2021 will account for $890.1 billion in exports and 4721.9 billion in imports.

Peter Churchill, CEO International at In-Solutions Global (ISG), said that the Middle East represents a predominantly nascent digital payments market, with cash being the most prevalent payment method. McKinsey’s consumer survey, however, identified that 58 per cent of consumers preferred digital payments, meaning digital payments volumes will grow exponentially if infrastructure and trust are established.

Between 2014 and 2019, the UAE digital payments grew 9 per cent, compared to 5 per cent in the EU. Between 2019 and 2020, card payments in Saudi Arabia grew by 70 per cent. The Middle East has witnessed the highest digital payments adoption worldwide during this pandemic. 85 per cent of consumers surveyed by VISA expect to avail digital payment options when shopping offline. ISG continues to work with issuers, acquirers, schemes and third-party processors in the region and will be launching cloud native platform, Genius Payments-as-a-Service (GPaaS), in 2022.

Growth of fintech

Speaking about the growth of fintech, Churchill said that new technologies are driving customer experience. ISG is at the forefront of this innovation with a ‘Digital First’ strategy, collaborating with partners, using hybrid cloud infrastructure, single API mediation and advanced encryption to provide merchants and consumers enhanced feature functionality, data protection and faster transactions.

Central banks have supported the transformation to digital, setting out regulatory frameworks to enable banks and fintechs to work together, issuing new types of licenses, similar to the AISP and PISP created under PSD2, and providing sandboxes to increase collaboration across the retail and corporate payments landscape.

Further innovation is being driven by data science, AI and blockchain, with many use cases being created daily. ISG and Featurespace’s recent pivot to protect partners in the Middle East by offering free consultations on adopting Aric Risk Hub, is powered by real time adaptive behavioural analytics. Featurespace’s Aric Risk Hub autonomously detects and prevents sophisticated and fraudulent transactions and maximises revenues by tackling up to 75 per cent of false positives, which would otherwise sour customer experiences. Sectors like travel and hospitality are fuelling growth, transcending borders and pushing the envelope of payments interoperability.

Micro, small and medium-sized businesses are now able to download software from Google Playstore to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) devices that allows them to securely accept EMV certified contactless (Tap on Phone) and chip and PIN (PIN on Glass) payments. By opening up these merchant segments, digital payments are expected to continue to rise.

Biggest challenges

The main challenges to successful cloud adoption are legacy infrastructure, regulation and service coverage. Transitioning infrastructure to the cloud, to provide portability and scalability, has been ISG’s focus, as the company assists partners to sidestep the legacy loop challenge. Enabling agile delivery, particularly in response to regulation or cybersecurity, has required a new approach. Adoption of micro-service architecture, supported by DevOps and CD/CI addresses these challenges.

Legislative requirements, in data protection, privacy and residency, have been a challenge, especially with surges in demand to use both structured and unstructured data for real-time analytics to drive intelligent decision-making. ISG has partnered with Alteryx to enable the convergence of analytics, data science and data automation, unifying data from multiple sources, to empower everyone to access insights and take informed action consensually. Inconsistencies in regulation or protectionist policies have increased compliance costs and complexity. In 2022, ISG will launch Genius Global Compliance, providing transparency and ease of platform configuration to ensure conformity with jurisdictional obligations.

Being cloud native requires a mindset shift reaching into organisational culture and processes. Solution architecture requires careful planning, particularly in markets where not all cloud service providers are present. ISG envisions greater cooperation and collaboration across providers, allowing organisations cost-effective and service-efficient multi-cloud provider strategies.

Speaking about the need for companies to be agile and fast, Churchill said that it is imperative for businesses to be agile, whether through building capability or partnerships. Cloud computing underpins the world’s economy, global supply chains and remote workforces during this pandemic. Research predicts public cloud infrastructure will increase by 28 per cent, reaching $113 billion next year. Businesses continue to seek cloud solutions to drive scalability, continuity and cost-efficiency. Ability to adopt new cloud evolution, including edge, serverless and automated orchestration, will deliver businesses competitive advantages. He said that for those agile enough to respond to consumer demands for hyper-convenience, personalisation and contextual messaging, rewards will be bountiful.

Transitioning infrastructure to the cloud, to provide portability and scalability, has been ISG’s focus, as the company assists partners to sidestep the legacy loop challenge.

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