Confidence, customers and cashflow – Open Banking for retailers

Liz Pfeuti,
25 Oct 2022

The constant challenge of keeping customers happy – and coming back – can be addressed by various elements within the Open Banking toolbox, according to an industry veteran and one of the architects of a previous payments revolution.  

In a keynote speech at the Open Banking Expo in London on 20 October, Mike Chambers of Answer Pay and former CEO of Bacs in the UK, told attendees that disruption was coming to both the high-street and online shopping – and it would help retailers improve customer experience.  

“Speed and security” are key to facilitating a good customer experience, according to Chambers, who referenced the evolution of payments for merchants and outlined major pain points for merchants.  

A checkout experience of under three minutes, confidence in sharing their data, and avoiding fraud are three of the key elements addressed by Open Banking that rank high on customers’ lists of demands.  

The additional danger of “abandonment of sales”, spurred by fear of an unsecure environment, hidden charges, the time taken to input details and a collapsing checkout process, can also be solved by digital solutions, which can already be found within the Open Banking landscape.  

Clear cash position

“People are falling out of love with cards,” said Chambers. “They want a better way… Open Banking addresses many friction points faced by retailers and their clients… It can take away uncertainty.” 

From the retailer’s own business perspective, Chambers said account-to-account processes could also boost and assure daily cash positions, which would contribute to more accurate cashflow forecasting.  

“Instant settlement works for both sides,” said Chambers. “It creates a smoother experience for retailers and their customers.”  

He added that the consumer “doesn’t care about the names” of which provider was facilitating the payment, they just wanted to make the purchase quickly, securely and with good service.  

Cut to the chase

This equally applies to refunds, which contribute to considerable consumer pain and could be instead effected through end-to-end transactions.   

Some 43% of respondents to a survey by Vyne said they had to chase merchants when requesting refunds, leaving 65% feeling frustrated, which is unlikely to result in customer loyalty.  

“We need to normalise account-to-account payments,” said Chambers. “They will increase trust for customers and empower end users.” 

The tools available through Open Banking, including request to pay and variable recurring payment services, were also mechanisms through which merchants could develop stronger and more flexible relationships with clients.  

Chambers added that merchants were also able to take comfort in using Open Banking tools to confirm customers were both genuine and likely to make and complete purchases and payment, noting also that transactions costs could also be slashed through a new digital approach to retail.