G+D’s Andy Ramsden explains how the veteran security solutions provider strives to match the imagination of today’s financial services consumer.
Challenger bank Monzo took 11 months to gain its first one million customers. Eight months later it had acquired its second million, and just four months after that – in September last year – its third. How? Well, lots of things go into the mix, but a trendy hot coral pink card that made users feel part of a club has been a big part of it.
“It captured people’s attention. It became a conversation point,” says Andy Ramsden, London-based global solutions lead for G+D (Giesecke+Devrient), a company that knows a lot about payments plastic. And he’s speaking from personal experience. “I was in a pub in Cornwall on New Year’s Eve and got my Monzo card out. The guy next to me took his Monzo card out and we started chatting. It was like ‘hey, we’re Monzo buddies’!
“But the question is, how does Monzo go from three million to six million customers? They need to do more than just offer a hot coral card and a cool app,” says Ramsden. “They’ll do it by joining the dots to offer much more than a core banking service.”
A massive part of any banks’ growth plans, he suggests – be they established institutions or challengers like Monzo – will be to leverage the latest payments technologies to give customers the greatest range of choice. And that’s where G+D comes in.
“G+D are experts in personalising physical bank cards, but once you can do that securely, you can also personalise a phone, a watch, or a fitness tracker,” says Ramsden. Clearly a man of many cards, he continues: “For example, my Lloyds card, which, when it was a physical piece of plastic, existed in one place, can now also exist in my phone, in Apple Pay, in my watch, in SwatchPAY!, a service we’ve rolled out with Swatch. You can have Fitbit Pay on a fitness tracker, it can be a ring, it can be a necklace. This is where G+D offers a rich suite of services, partnering banks, right from the beginning, by creating a good onboarding experience, then a good authentication experience that’s simple but secure with a FIDO-compliant, biometric-based solution using the Europay Mastercard and Visa (EMV) card as an authentication factor, which is proprietary to G+D.”
It’s authentication that’s driving much of G+D’s innovation.
“It’s what enables me to use my mobile banking services, day to day: checking my balance, paying a bill, receiving money, sending money, applying for a new loan or a new mortgage,” says Ramsden.
“I’ll want to do this through my mobile when I’m on the train, at an airport or waiting for the kettle to brew. This is really important to us. We want to help banks make the customer journey more compelling and connected.”
G+D is one of the longest-established players in the payments industry, offering physical and digital security technologies that touch millions of people every day, as they pay by cash, card or smartphone, interact with their cars or use their identity documents when travelling.
The company that began life printing bank notes is now instrumental in championing invisible forms of payment, and has built its reputation on the ability to adapt, to see what consumer and business requirements are coming over the horizon.
Right now, according to its latest white paper, that’s eSIM-driven technology. eSIM, which stands for embedded subscriber identity module, will drive the acceleration of the Internet of Things and development of devices linked to it, says G+D. That’s because, in addition to secure connectivity, it has a role in ‘protecting user identities, device attestation, application and data integrity and data encryption in the Cloud as well as data privacy at the edge’.
“One of the biggest areas, at the moment, is automotive payment functionality embedded within the car dashboard so that when you pull up at a toll, or a gas station, your payment credentials are stored in it,” says Ramsden.
“All these touchpoints are opportunities for banks, and we can work with a bank at each of them. G+D has a rich history of making bank notes, then bank cards, then SIM cards, but a lot of what we’re doing now is around the digital space, bringing technologies around identity and personalisation into the digital age.”
Cards still have a big role to play in that.
“We grew up in a world where cards were this static utility you kept in your wallet, and only ever came out when you wanted to make a payment. Now, with the rise of the fintechs and neobanks, they’ve become a fashion statement,” says Ramsden.
“The card itself is undergoing not just colour changes, but also material changes. We’ve seen Revolut rolling out metal cards, and a lot of the established banks are looking to offer this as a premium service. Then there are environmentally conscious, recycled plastic, ocean-friendly cards, and we’re very much involved in wooden cards, so with sustainable solutions, as well.
“Cards are becoming ever more valuable personal statements. They no longer just have the corporate logo of your bank on them; they’re your colour, your material and, moving even further, they will evolve to have richer functionality.”
Intrinsic to this will be frictionless security, he says.
“We’ve moved from chip and PIN to contactless, but we’re also looking at biometrics where you could, in theory, forget needing to remember the PIN and tap for high as well as low-value payments – even things like having a dynamic CVV (card verification value) code for card-not-present transactions. Currently, once that’s stolen, it’s a real problem because it’s static, but a dynamic CVV takes away that lost card fraud problem that’s a huge problem for banks today.”
A dynamic CVV is one that is generated several times a day and displayed via an electronic ink display screen on the back of the card.
“At G+D, we see the card as much more than just a payment instrument – it’s also a possession factor you can use for authentication. We offer a mobile authentication solution, based around biometrics, through the smartphone, but you can also use your contactless card. Everyone, these days, tends to have a near-field communication (NFC) phone and a contactless card, so how about, when you land in a different country, your bank realises you’re in a different place andsays ‘hey, Andy, just prove you’re really there – tap your debit or credit card on your phone through the app’. They can then be fairly sure, especially coupled with biometrics, that it’s me. It’s also a better customer experience because it gets away from the passwords, or one-time password generators, that frustrate us all.
“We’re marrying the physical and the digital. One use case we’re looking at now is to do with the issuing of physical cards. They’re still delivered in the post and when you open them one of the first challenges is having to activate that card, quite often by calling a customer service centre. Why not just tap it through the bank app? Your biometrics have proved who you are, tapping the card has proved you’re in receipt of it. It gives the customer a really nice experience, and gives the bank a really secure solution. It’s also quite cool. It’s the kind of thing people talk about, you know, ‘hey, I got the card, just tapped it through the app, and I was ready to go’.”
The card has proved to be a great marketing tool – witness Monzo – but Ramsden admits that with the revised payment services directive (PSD2), open banking and application programming interfaces (APIs), there is an irresistible trend towards more non-card payments.
“If I want to give you some money for lunch, I can push it from my current account to your current account, no card layer is needed in between. But that doesn’t mean the card is going to go away,” he says. “When NFC phones came along we all thought that would be the death of cards.”
Rather, he says, the card is evolving alongside other payment methods.
“It’s a matter of providing options for people, who want three, four, five, six ways of paying – with card, digitally or bank account to bank account. When you get to that stage, it becomes more a challenge of identity, rather than around the payment tool.”