Exclusive: ‘Orchestrating payments’ – Raphaël Guilley & Stéphanie Pietri, FIME in “The Fintech Magazine”

FIME is helping to coordinate and unite global payments. Raphaël Guilley, VP of Solutions, and Stéphanie Pietri, Marketing Communications Director, discuss the quest for seamless card and mobile transactions.

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. This phrase could well describe FIME’s philosophy and approach to data security and customer experience in the rapidly changing and complex world of payments.

The company enables its customers to bring user friendly, reliable and secure solutions to the payment and transport markets. To make this happen, it provides consulting services, technical training, technology design, test tools and certification testing across financial services. This places it firmly at the centre of the payments ecosystem, a vantage point that enables it to advise on the best strategies for efficient transactions and oversee standardisation. 

With payments undergoing huge changes as a result of technological progress, user expectation for a frictionless buying journey, and tighter regulations, FIME has a key facilitating role to play. It supports a wide range of technologies and industry developments, such as contactless, EMV chip, QR code, tokenisation, biometrics, and open banking application programming interfaces (APIs). In addition, to ensure its services are always in tune with market requirements, it partners with a wide variety of international and national payment schemes and industry bodies. 

“Everyone is pushing electronic payments,” says Raphaël Guilley,  VP of Solutions at FIME. “There are plenty of drops during the journey, especiallyat the payment checkout.” 

A cautious note 

In a world that is increasingly digital, mobile, cross-border and interconnected, payment providers must ensure that innovation and regulation go hand in hand. And they also need to avoid the unwelcome side effect of facilitating fraud. So, as payment systems and practices evolve, particularly the growth of card-not-present (CNP) transactions, the goal is to balance frictionless commerce with the requirement for security.

This is a global challenge, with regulations such as the EU’s revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) defining new rules across the payments chain. PSD2 affects all European online payments, and it includes a rigorous framework for strong customer authentication (SCA). 

It is a highly technical and demanding area that requires clear guidance and advice. This is reflected in the recent deadline extension for SCA compliance because of poor industry readiness: going from insufficient understanding of the measures, multiple new technology companies and product to scan and select, to lack of time to roll out with end-user onboarding implications. 

Another significant development is the move to ISO 20022, a new global standard for payments messaging. While the transition will likely bring many opportunities for banks, a huge effort is required to achieve a smooth migration, and all global markets need to migrate to the new standard. 

Navigating the marketplace

Change is everywhere, and Guilley says that because of regional differences and the variety of technologies now available, it can be a bewildering marketplace. 

“Banks or merchants are dealing with different customer segments,” says Guilley, “you can provide different waysto answer their needs. Some people are perhaps more cautious of ecommerce shopping than others, and so will be grateful for an element of friction to make them feel reassured and confident about security. On the other hand, some people will be unconcerned and want a totally frictionless journey. Different segments, different needs to address. That’s why you have to segment the offering and build tailored journeys. 

“For me,” says Guilley, “the major underlying trend is customer experience being directed by PSD2.” 

He believes that PSD2 is helping to push the agenda. This is because, apart from the heightened security that SCA will bring, it is also encouraging innovation and competition so no one ‘giant organisation’ dominates the marketplace. 

For Guilley, the important thing is to ask the right questions and have a wider vision, which means avoiding a narrow focus on ‘magic bullet’ solutions such as biometrics. He qualifies this by saying that, because of technology innovation pace, there will always be new ways to approach the customer, new challenges and opportunities, so it’s a continuous journey. 

FIME provides the expertise to make this kind of refinement possible and positions itself as the partner of choice to develop and launch products.

Guilley explains that FIME occupies a central position in the financial landscape and is working with all the technology specialists, whether that’s biometrics, EMV 3-D Secure (3DS), or source code providers. Because of this, it has a commanding view of what is required to make all the parts fit together. 

“Our value to the banks,” says Guilley, “is to help them understand the overall landscape, performance limitations, regulatory developments and requirements, and standardisation bodies. Seeing the whole picture will help them to make the best choices, according to their strategy. FIME is not here to sell.”

In particular, Guilley emphasises that FIME can help banks understand how technology is evolving on the global stage, what it means for standardisation in different geographies and cultures, and thus assist with strategic planning. This is important because of the fragmented way mobile payments are developing. Depending on where you are in the world, cash and other traditional payment practices may prevail, and FIME is helping to bridge these gaps and unify payments.

A question of culture 

Culture is clearly a strong influence on which payment practices and technologies are preferred by customers, as FIME’s marketing communications director, Stéphanie Pietri, explains.

“We see different approaches for authentication, whether sensor-on-card, sensor-on-reader, match-on-host, or match-on-card. We discuss different options with customers and fully appreciate that, due to cultural nuances, some solutions are more acceptable than others. For example, in Asia they are sensitive about physical contact and are not in favour of solutions where you must place your finger on the reader, where many other fingers will have been placed before. In other regions, the concern is more about security, and having match-on-host, where you put all your template and your biometric data on a host somewhere in the Cloud. 

“Elsewhere, there may simply be fear or mistrust of technology, which is something we must take into account when we want to deploy a technical solution.” 

Pietri comments on the paradox – certainly in Europe – of wanting data to be both more secure and easier to transmit. 

“In Europe, we are creating rules to protect our data, but go to China and there are no rules. In supermarkets and other locations in Shanghai, you can pay with facial recognition. Each audience, each culture, will have different needs and customs, which means you must know what works best for each country. Managing payments today, making sure everything flows smoothly, is a bit like conducting a global orchestra.” 

It’s an analogy that serves well for FIME’s role at the centre of payments. As a testing and implementation partner, it is helping technology and service providers to unify and harmonise payments worldwide. In other words, play all the right financial notes in the right order.

This article was first published in The Fintech Magazine: Issue #15, Page 80 & 81.

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Author: Laimis Bilys