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What are the latest trends in managed payment technologies and electronic payment solutions?

Editor's Note: Good answer below from Keith. In addition, consider registering early for Proformative's technology conference, ProformaTech 2013. In addition to up-to-the-minute managed payment technology info (and so much more), this year's broader theme is "Leveraging Technology To Evolve The Strategic Role of Finance, Accounting and Treasury."

Answers

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Director of Global Accounting
Company: Agrinos, Inc.
(Director of Global Accounting, Agrinos, Inc.) |

Adding to the question here, because I find the process frustrating in the US compared to other jurisdictions. So:

Mobile banking / payments: In the US the larger banks are putting together proprietary systems that work well enough (as long as the transactions are limited to within the bank). There are certainly 1-off apps to charge credit cards directly. Paypal, BluePay and their ilk provide a great service to small merchants. However, the true mobile and accessible banking that you see in the developing world seems hopeless here, but....

NFC is a developing technology that seems to utilize similar background infrastructure as the "FastPass" type device in your car, but lets commuters use it for transactions like bus and train fare. This seems to be one area where there is a wide spread between your potential early adopter (the person commuting from Atherton to SF on Caltrain) and your average Joe on a muni bus. This is technology that *should* be standardized and *should* be on phones. Can you imagine flying from London to HK, and simply swiping your phone across the terminal to board the train downtown?

Games payments are also in this space. They are still relatively scattered due to political-economy concerns (yes, game money is real money, and it has macro effects on game economies). The proliferation of pay by phone seems to have taken hold here pretty firmly ("text to bill your parents and you get a rhinestone tiara for your virtual hamster"). Despite the penetration, I don't see this expanding into a true virtual wallet, bank, exchange or similar due to the walls between gaming companies.

EFT and Wires: EFTs are the closest thing we have to what Europe has (assuming you are not European, otherwise you are laughing at this post). They have a 3 day settlement window, however, and so create risk for banks and are painful for small businesses. They are also not standardized into a clearing house, so are a series of one-offs, each with their own rules and interaction designs.
Wires are from the stone-age. They seem to exist to provide employment for telex operators.
What would make sense, and which is being resisted by US banks, is a simple clearing house. Vendor posts invoice to your account in the clearing house: you go there and approve it...and the bank pays it. You have a direct, instant payment (or scheduled) to the vendor that is tied directly to their invoice. No muss, no fuss, and the easiest audit in history. Note, hilariously this caused PwC fits when I explained that my European sub *did not have a checkbook*. I explained the system, and I got the feeling we would get a ding on the audit for not having the traditional paper trail.

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