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Payment security and fraud prevention take centre stage at this year’s Pay360 conference

Thursday, 4th April 2024 | PayTexh

The Pay360 conference, hosted by the Payments Association in collaboration with Mastercard, attracted sizeable numbers to the ExCel Centre in London, UK, this year to deliver a panoramic deep-dive into the most current payment trends emerging around the world.

Crowds gather for the Pay360 conference in London

With delegate badges emblazoned with the slogan “Back: Bigger, Better”, the Payments Association tasked itself with fulfilling a larger remit than ever before with the return of its flagship industry event, following last year’s proceedings at the less sizable Old Billingsgate venue.

The two-day gathering centred its focus on all of the industry’s most talked about topics, including shifting customer expectations and payment trends and the rise of AI-powered financial crime.

In an interview with FinTech Futures, Tony Craddock, director general of the Payments Association, claimed that the event had successfully doubled its delegate headcount this year, describing the occasion as “a global watering hole for the payments industry” and “a catalyst for industry growth”.

This year’s agenda orientated around the leading challenges being faced by the industry as a whole, with central themes addressing the likes of automated push payment fraud, infrastructure interoperability, global uniformity, data safeguarding, and real-time cross-border payments.

Craddock says this year’s Pay360 was actively seeking to minimise the damage caused by fraud within payments by championing a “range of approaches” that each hold the potential to mitigate its rising prevalence.

Aside from accommodating the flow of discussion powering this endeavour, the association also operates seven working groups comprising of a diverse range of industry representatives. The collective mission of these groups, as Craddock explains, is to “lead education on financial policies through the likes of policy roundtables and stakeholder working groups”.

One such policy that has been within its sightlines is the Payment Systems Regulator’s (PSR) new rules for APP fraud reimbursement, which seek to ensure the safe return of funds to fraud victims, and which were unveiled by the body last summer.

Yet despite the Payments Association supplying the PSR with its own recommendations on how this approach can be enhanced, direct from its industry members, the director general expresses a feeling of being “totally incensed” with the regulator’s “unwillingness to listen” to said recommendations.

He hopes the agenda produced by this year’s Pay360 will bolster the connection between the industry and policymakers, and serve as a key indicator of how change can be led by payments’ latest developments.

Data, open banking and the future of payments

The event’s second day of proceedings on Wednesday featured a number of interesting keynotes, panel discussions and endless lines of thought.

Opening the day, John Penrose, the conservative MP for Weston-Super-Mare, took to the Track A stage in the morning to discuss the UK’s Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.

Described by Penrose as “one bill to rule them all”, the incoming regulation concerns multiple aspects of the modern use of data, from how it’s processed and stored, to how it’s analysed, applied and accessed.

Penrose disclosed to the audience that the bill is seeking to ensure the UK’s leading place in payments innovation, and will deliver “new commercial frontiers” for how technologies such as open banking, which has enjoying seemingly unrivalled success in the country, can leverage cross-sector data standards to expand its reach solely beyond payments and the wider financial sector.

He also hinted at how the bill could designate a “standard setting body” for the use of data, and how fresh information about the arrival of the bill and its investible assets could be released “within the next week or two”.

This keynote was followed by a forward-looking panel which, moderated by Payments Association ambassador Teresa Connors, sought to afford attendees a “glimpse into the payments crystal ball”.

Joining Connors on stage was Jenni Himberg-Wild, managing director of Barclays corporate and investment bank; Saira Khan, head of innovation and partnerships at First Direct Bank; Adam Bealey, head of Swift UK and Ireland; Jessica Richards, head of performance and business management at NatWest Payments; and Natasha Zurnamer, CEO and founder of payments platform Optty.

For Khan, a glimpse into the crystal ball revealed a future where banking’s human side would make a triumphant return with a focus on “the community element”. She attributed this view to what she sees as the industry “becoming a little bit fatigued with the amount of digital channels”.

Tony Craddock, director general, the Payments Association
Tony Craddock, director general, the Payments Association

Likewise, Bealey used the panel to call for the unification of core payment systems, and stressed through his response that the arrival of “new forms of value” would ultimately drive system fragmentation and generate poorer customer experiences if they fail to first strike interoperability within the wider industry.

Zurnamer added to these statements by predicting the arrival of “the checkout of the future”, which she says will include a variety of different payment options consolidated through a single interface, allowing retailers to hyper-personalise the customer journey.

Richards paired her prediction with a longer-term view of payments innovation, sharing her opinion that central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) will eventually come into play, despite having “a long way to go”.

She also expressed a positive view of the increased use of cash, especially among younger generations, and that open banking will experience “a tipping point” in the near future that will spur “a viable commercial model” for the technology.

Despite her optimism, Richards also warned the audience about the rising use of “bad technologies”, in that the innovations that are actively delivering good across the industry, such as AI, are also being harnessed by fraudsters.

Catching up with FinTech Futures after the panel, Richards further explained that the ascent of CBDCs across the globe was being largely driven by “a political perspective”, and likened the rising popularity of cash transactions among those aged between 18 and 25 to the renaissance of vinyl records, which have also proved popular within the same demographic in recent years.

Concerning the fight against fraudsters and bad actors in the payments industry, she praised the use of AI, and specifically GenAI, for its ability to harvest data which can then be applied to mitigating potential threats, a process she claims is already underway at NatWest.

After two solid days of industry networking, thought leadership and plenty of professional development, Pay360 evidenced this year how the payments industry has evolved in recent years.

But fraud continues to be the thorn in payments’ side. Craddock, who shares that the Pay360 event is set to return to the ExCel Centre in March 2025, says he expects the topic to remain at the top of the agenda next year.

“We’ve doubled every year in the last five years and we’re looking to double again next time around, with an even more global scale”, he shared in his closing statements.