Boyden’s Global Financial Services Practice welcomed special guests Ruben Justel Miranda and Pablo Tramazaygues for a discussion on the payments ecosystem in Europe, ‘The Future of Fintech: Opportunities and Challenges from the Client Perspective’. Here we share highlights and key trends.
Members of our Global Financial Services Practice were privileged to discuss insights from Ruben Justel Miranda, CEO Getnet Europe (Banco Santander) and Pablo Tramazaygues, Partner, Head of Retail & Business Banking Iberia, Oliver Wyman on ‘Navigating the Future of Fintech: Exploring Europe's Payments Ecosystem’.
The magic eight:
Trends in payments and fintech are driving high levels of investment – in terms of capital, talent, regulation/compliance, specialisation, time – and creating a flurry of market activity as banks, fintech and payments companies compete for considerable but complex opportunities. Two key players in the market are Getnet (Banco Santander) and Oliver Wyman.
“In 2017 Banco Santander ran the payment business through a JV with Elavon but given the importance of this business, it was decided to buy back the company”, explains Ruben Justel Miranda, CEO of Getnet Europe. “A deep transformation across all aspects of the organisation drove growth in market share, leading to European expansion. We currently have licences to serve merchants in thirty-two countries in Europe”.
“Oliver Wyman is seeing huge growth in consulting for financial services in digital payments and in banking, including payment entities that belong to banks or are separate entities,” explains Pablo Tramazaygues, Partner, Head of Retail & Business Banking Iberia, Oliver Wyman.
Ruben clarifies the payment market in Europe with a simplified overview. “Because of the Euro, we think of Europe as one market, but in reality we have as many markets as countries. There may only be one currency but the payment value chain is very different in each country. In Spain and Portugal, banks are the main players and control the entire payment system. France is similar, where banks are the main players, although fintechs are gaining market share. In Italy, Germany, Poland and the UK banks have lost power in the market and the main players are fintechs or payment specialists such as Worldpay.”
“If you want to fully compete, you need to invest time and money, have a strong tech perspective, and be aware that regulation is complex in every market,” says Ruben
“In addition, the needs of merchants are more complicated, with special payment methods in each country, so providers need functionality to be in each market. For example, in Spain it’s essential to have the payment local method which is Bizum, and in Germany GiroCard requires a lot of local detail. This means there is no single champion in Europe. If you want to fully compete, you need to invest time and money, have a strong tech perspective, and be aware that regulation is complex in every market, so you need to adapt to each country’s specification. The payment ecosystem has seen six to eight percent annual growth over the last two years and its composition is changing: the cash component is decreasing, replaced by credit cards. For the first time in Spain card payments were higher than cash payments.”
“Fragmentation is super relevant today and the political agenda in Europe is to make pan-European payments a reality,” says Pablo
Pablo Tramazaygues adds, “Fragmentation is super relevant today and the political agenda in Europe is to make pan-European payments a reality. There is a lot of pressure from the European Commission and Central Bank to push instant payments, processing payments as efficiently as possible in several countries. However, Europe is many markets with different agendas, so everything is more complex and time consuming”.
“To invest in payments, every year you need to invest in huge capabilities to adapt to local regulation, and compete with Visa, Mastercard and Apple pay. This creates complexity, so consolidation is expected in Europe; pan-European players are growing and making acquisitions in different markets. It’s a slow and painful process and you can’t be successful in payments unless you achieve critical mass greater than the national market. If you are a national player therefore, you have to find an alliance with an international company or collaborate to send your business to others”.
“We expect high growth to continue into double digits. Digital commerce is growing at thirty percent a year and m-commerce is even faster. So, there are a few engines that are growing fast and it is being on top of these engines that makes payment companies so valuable.”
“Specialisation is crucial for the payment space and the provision of specific tools to serve merchant needs,” says Ruben
Ruben highlights key points, “In the last twenty years there has been a lot of disruption and change: payments were a product that only a bank could service a few years ago. Now it’s more about technology, and merchant needs have changed. They want tech to help manage their business and provide access to data on who is buying what and how. That means specialisation is crucial for the payment space and the provision of specific tools to serve merchant needs. For example, in aerospace you need tech people who know airlines and sales people who know the business. It’s about the value proposition. If you want to penetrate the market in France, you need to know how to integrate into the domestic schema. Specialisation is key, and it’s not easy.”
Pablo shares his perspective, “The main asset in my company is our people. In the past we used to compete for talent against investment banks and major brands, but now we compete with big tech, fintech and payments companies. Regarding growth, good valuations mean big money, and specialisation in areas such as cybersecurity is not very mature. Talent is scarce and in high demand, making retention very challenging. If a bank wants to invest in fintech this talent makes more money than some senior bank executives. Because Europe is so fragmented this adds to the complexity and need for global-local talent in different markets across Europe. And then at some point this talent wants to exit not to banking, but to payments, fintech or big tech companies.”
“The big giants – Visa, Mastercard and Apple – have so much money, they can handle high multiples and can afford to buy anything, just in case,” says Pablo
Pablo answers, ”Broadly speaking, eighty percent of acquisitions fail. The big giants – Visa, Mastercard and Apple – have so much money, they can handle high multiples and can afford to buy anything, just in case. As a result, not all their acquisitions appear fully rational. In today’s market however, multiples are much lower, providing good rationale for concentration.”
“Few players can afford acquisitions and many mistakes are made. If you acquire a company, you acquire access to the market, talent or a combination of both; most of the value is leveraged post-acquisition through integrating the talent. Many acquisitions have no clear integration plan, so struggle to realise value. This happens in every sector, but here there is so much money that it happens more often and will continue. In today’s higher interest rate environment many fintechs are running out of cash; there is less liquidity in the market to invest in them and we will see lower price acquisitions that nevertheless will have material value because the talent is there.
Ruben shares another point, “This is about consistency in Europe. There have been a lot of acquisitions driven by serving changes in merchant needs. If you want to compete in Europe, say in France or Spain, acquisition could shorten the development time, otherwise it takes years. In Spain’s ecosystem, the main issuers are banks and everything is under their control, so a fintech entering this market needs to partner with an acquiring bank. And it works for the banks because developing a specific platform for say airlines and other verticals in-house would take years. The problem is that when you acquire the company, the complexity of integration is the same as in other industries.”
“Getnet is part of the traditional bank, Santander, so we had to replace traditional remuneration with long-term incentive plans that depend on future value,” says Ruben
Ruben speaks from a ‘traditional’ perspective, “Getnet is part of the traditional bank, Santander, so we had to replace traditional remuneration with long-term incentive plans that depend on future value. Working in a bank, this is an important change to make, so everyone needs to understand it is important for retention. However, it is complicated because this industry is very open with different peculiarities in the ecosystem”.
Talent, regulation, specialisation, critical mass, acquisition, integration, timing… multiple drivers in a complex market spur the over-riding question, ‘How do we balance risk and opportunity while achieving a return?’
Contact Lourdes Lopez to learn more about Boyden's research and insights on Europe's payments ecosystem.
Getnet (Banco Santander) helps merchants around the world to grow and operate efficiently in a changing, global payments landscape. ‘We make payments easier, for everyone, everywhere’.
Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices in more than 70 cities across 30 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. The firm has more than 6,000 professionals around the world who work with clients to optimize their business, improve their operations and risk profile, and accelerate their organizational performance to seize the most attractive opportunities. Oliver Wyman is a business of Marsh McLennan [NYSE: MMC].