A giant leap forward for digitalization
Digital is everywhere, and with the Covid-19 pandemic-related lockdown, the world economy has had to adapt even more quickly to remote and virtual trading. So how can we establish ourselves, trade, pay, do our shopping, live and work without contact? In the corporate world, companies’ ability to adapt to these new technologies has become a crucial challenge in driving growth, prospecting on new sales channels, keeping in touch with clients and offering them better products. Businesses that pre-empted this digitalization and developed innovations during lockdown are emerging even stronger from the crisis. Let’s look back at these recent events with Luc Barnaud, Chief Digital and Technology Officer at Natixis and Chloé Mayenobe, Deputy CEO of Natixis Payments.
Some companies took pre-emptive action in the services they provide for both their clients and staff to address this massive change, and Groupe BPCE subsidiary Natixis blazed a trail in this respect. As early as 2017, the company launched the EASY program to provide all its staff with mobility solutions – laptops and remote working tools for videoconferencing and document sharing – enabling them to work and cooperate effectively from home during lockdown.
“Our client companies are having to deal with the transformation of their industries with these digital challenges. Our role is to support them and provide them with the best solutions to meet their needs” states Luc Barnaud, Natixis’ Chief Digital and Technology Officer. He goes on “For example Natixis Interépargne was the first company to set up an employee savings website as early as 1999, and was a pioneer in adopting this model. Very early on, Natixis Interépargne was committed to enhancing the relationship between HR departments and staff by enabling companies to manage their employee savings easily online using a very straightforward and multifunctional platform, while offering staff a savings solution and a seamless way to manage transfers within their accounts, profit-sharing and voluntary investment directly via their mobiles in an entirely paperless process.”
More recently, Natixis’ acquisition of fintechs, such as PayPlug or Dalenys, has helped prepare for the surge in online payments. Natixis also just took a stake in investment bank Clipperton, which focuses on mergers and acquisitions in the digital and technology-driven sectors, adding another dimension to the company’s extensive range of existing businesses. Natixis’ goal is to offer its clients – whether corporates, institutionals or individuals – privileged access to digital transformation and innovation, and this obviously involves skillfully managing data, as Luc Barnaud notes.
"In our data approach, we have moved from a castle-and-moat model to an airport system." Luc Barnaud
History is speeding up at an exponential rate. Over the past decade, data volumes created each year have increased more than 20-fold and the pace is picking up! This is an opportunity to draw value from data, but we also need to understand how to fully draw on this increasingly huge volume and find the information we need. We need to consider how to leverage data analysis to develop predictive models and recommendations for action, and how we can derive quality from this mountain of data and use it to draw conclusions with high value-added. This is the key challenge.”
Future developments focus on personalizing the use of data.According toLuc Barnaud: “The banking and insurance industry is fundamentally based on data – our businesses generate and use a huge amount of data and we can see that a sensible use of this information should help us be more effective and timely, but it can also enhance our client relationships and better address customers’ specific needs. For example, this applies to services we offer to our Corporate & Investment Banking clients, with personalized investment opportunities, tools to prevent and manage fraud, and platforms to execute transactions.”
Cybersecurity is the cornerstone of data management
Luc Barnaud draws particular attention to current changes in data management in areas of cybersecurity: “Trust is a fundamental component of any bank’s identity, and so all banks must ensure personal data protection for their clients. Cybersecurity is a crucial aspect of private data management, and it is vital to offer extremely strong security while also providing innovative digital services that build gateways to our IT systems. The banking sector has therefore moved from a castle-and-moat set-up that locks in and secures information, to a so-called airport system with areas for communication and public access, and other extremely secure and inaccessible areas. Behind the digital promise there lie both a huge technological challenge and a new culture of robustness and resilience”.
At the height of lockdown, one of Natixis’ core business divisions Natixis Payments and its fintechs (Dalenys, PayPlug, Le Pot Commun, Comitéo, Joinly, Apetiz, Xpollens, Titres Cado, Weezen) fully played their part in supporting Groupe BPCE clients as well as banks, merchants and companies. Natixis Payments was the first to operate Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and instant payment in France, as it creates “payment as a service” solutions, covering the entire payment value chain from issuing to acquiring, and from e-payment to prepayment, encompassing processing. Deputy Chief Executive Officer Chloé Mayenobe tells us about the latest progress in this sector.
"E-commerce has developed at top speed across all sectors". Chloé Mayenobe
Boom in online payment in France
How have consumers' payment habits changed during the current crisis?
Lockdown led to a massive surge in the use of digital payment. We saw a large number of changes, with contactless payment soaring – i.e. without physical cash – and even card-less payment increasing too. E-commerce developed at great speed across all sectors, and during lockdown, 2.5 million more people starting relying on this form of purchase, which is vast. Conversely, there was a significant drop in the use of cash, and this has continued even after lockdown, with cash withdrawals remaining lower than in 2019. Meanwhile, the upper limit for each contactless transaction was raised to 50 euros, and this move was instantly adopted and applauded by both consumers and store owners, as it obviously makes for a safer transaction in health terms. 63% of card transactions of under €50 now use contactless technology.
How do you see the acceleration in payment digitalization?
The new consumer usage I outlined has obviously stepped up the digitalization of retail broadly speaking. Omnichannel journeys, mobile phone payment and identification, use of payment data to single out loyal customers, and the transformation of sales outlets into the central point for e-commerce have all become key issues for retailers of all sizes. They have had to adapt in an unprecedented way and take on very diverse strategies to tackle these massive challenges – complying with physical distancing measures, running down inventories, footfall. I would particularly mention ship-from-store, click & collect, drive-to-store, and even dark store for some banners, where store inventories were used only to prepare online orders during lockdown. The best known approach is click & collect, and this is broadly welcomed and used by our fintechs' clients. For example, use of PayPlug's solution to send a payment request by email or SMS increased by 40%. During the crisis, Dalenys also supported the Blachère group in setting up a 100% click & collect online store for its network of 500 bakeries in France.
So what's next? Will we maintain these benefits from lockdown?
Our retailers have all tried out click & collect, digital payment, omnichannel customer journeys, and these usages have now made their way into our everyday lives and are set to stay there. In the space of just three months, we made five to ten years' progress in the customer journey. Cards and smartphones are at the center of this set-up, but new usages are soaring, such as instant payment, whereby users can make a wire transfer that is processed in just a few seconds as compared to 2-5 days usually, or benefit from split payment. These various payment methods do not replace others, but rather they all add up to offer an extensive range of alternatives for consumers. And history shows us that when a payment technology has been adopted, we rarely turn back!