Fiserv's Rahul Gupta speaks with PaymentEye’s Senior Fintech Reporter, Sarah Gill, about P2P payments and infrastructural considerations around payments evolution.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: I'm joined by Group President for Payments and Billings at Fiserv, Rahul Gupta. P2P is a model that's gaining traction at the moment. How important is that to your business?
Rahul Gupta: Well, P2P is very important, only because again, if you think about consumers, P2P is important to them. In 2015, consumers kind of believe that we're still moving money from me to you, you know, via check or cash, and if you're not in the same location, it's hard to send money to people seamlessly. So P2P is important for consumers and therefore important to banks. And it's therefore important to all of us as payment professionals.
But also, P2P should be part of a larger transaction set or a larger payment experience. It's not a thing by itself. The industry's been treating P2P for too long as a separate payment, separate kind of a payment interaction or a payment transaction type. But again, consumers don't think of it that way. They say, "I can pay somebody in a store, I can send a bill electronically; why can't I pay you electronically?" It's just part of that overall experience.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: I mean, yes, we talk about P2P, you know, in the thin tech world. Do you think consumers even think of it like that now?
Rahul Gupta: No, they don't. They just want to know how come--and I get this question from my kids all the time--you know, "How come this is so slow? Why can't I get the money faster?" or whatever. They do not understand P2P as a separate payment system. And in fact, we at Fiserv are working pretty hard to make sure that in the future, P2P is not a separate payment system. It will be integrated into an overall payment experience--in fact, an overall financial services experience--and not a separate thing.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: Yes, I mean, I think speed is the key word there. And you know, if you look at the US, I mean, towards real-time payments, it's happening slowly. How do you think it's going you know?
Rahul Gupta: It's going, you know, I'm encouraged by sort of all the people that are paying attention to it. You know, we have been working on it for the last few years. We have something called the NOW Network, which we went public with last year--in fact, at Money 2020. And so we are, you know, very much wiring up all those endpoints that are needed. So moving money faster is very crucial to consumers, but it's also hard because you have to make sure that all of those endpoints are connected and, you know, can operate seamlessly. So consumers have to be online, billers have to be online, charities have to be online--everything that is in a consumer's financial life has to get connected. And so that's what will happen over the next three or four years. But until that happens, money is going to continue to move relatively slowly.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: I mean, how much of an impact do you think it will make on businesses?
Rahul Gupta: I think it will make a tremendous impact on businesses, because businesses also--in fact, businesses are--the majority of the payments that businesses send themselves are received are still coming in via check. And for small businesses, of course, you know, cash flow is their lifeblood. And so they need that money to come in faster. And then consumers are demanding from our clients who are billers, for example, "Hey, how can I make it happen very quickly?" Or from a bank, "How can I make a bill pay and make sure that that happens instantly?" And so all of those expectations are very much out there with consumers, and so, you know, it's very important to a business because of that.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: I mean, I guess I kind of assume that everyone would want to have fast payments. Is there any reason why a business wouldn't want to be able to make like immediate payments?
Rahul Gupta: Yes, I don't think so in this day and age. I mean, there are still some things, you know, where they're worried about risk and fraud, for example. So once they send money on a real-time basis, the money is gone. And many risk and fraud systems were set up in the old days to make sure that money moved slowly so that in fact you could check and make sure that, you know, whether they're sending money to somebody who shouldn't be getting it. And so as money moves faster, all the support systems have to move faster, like risk and fraud has to move on a real-time basis, customer support has to happen on a real-time basis. So it's really those kinds of things, the support elements. But otherwise, no, there's really no reason.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: And what do you think will be like the main hiccoughs along the journey of leading towards real-time payments?
Rahul Gupta: Well, as I said, it's a complicated ecosystem. So it's just getting everybody to prioritize and make sure that this is an important thing. And then, of course, you know, I'm sure people will be concerned about things like, "Hey, will a consumer or a small business pay for all this?" because it's expensive to create all this new infrastructure. But it is crucial. It's just like EMV and those other things that are coming into the industry. It took a while because it was not clear who was going to pay for all this. But I think now banks and other people in the ecosystem are realizing that the consumer expectations are being set by, you know, people in Silicon Valley. And it's really important to get on with this.
And so I would say all of us stepping up to the plate, making it happen, participating, getting over the fact that they have to trust each other, and building a new network at the end of the day, like our NOW Network.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: Is there anything about the industry that kind of confounds you? Any trends that you feel are kind of holding it back or stifling innovation?
Rahul Gupta: No, I mean, I don't see, you know, a concern. I would just like us to see us move faster, you know. The consumer expectations are moving very quickly. You know, we, I think the industry tends to be a little more cautious, somewhat rightfully so because, you know, we are moving money. This is people's financial wealth. But even so, I think we have to move faster. Otherwise, we will lose the consumer, you know, to the new age entrants and et cetera, et cetera. And so I would say that would be my prime concern is that we just need to get on with it and move faster.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: Do you feel like there's a kind of personal contribution that you'd like to make towards the industry?
Rahul Gupta: Yes, I would love for payments to be much simpler. A consumer doesn't have to think about payments, shouldn't have to think about payments. And so what I'm hoping is that when we're all done--and I don't know what "done" is--that the consumer truly doesn't have to think about payments. The experience just works every time.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: I mean, what do you think are the main challenges still preventing that from happening?
Rahul Gupta: Well, there's all kinds of challenges. As I said, it's a complex ecosystem. There are challenges relative to the way the consumer accesses those payments. There's challenges in speed of payments. You know, payments are still moving pretty slowly. There's risk and fraud issues. Regulators are always worried as to who's making those payments happen, so they want checks and balances built in. And so all of that makes it for a more complicated transaction than it needs to be, or a more complicated experience. And so the ideal is to make all of that, hide all of that. Make it simple, behind the scenes, and actually make the payments invisible.
Sarah Gill, Reporter: So, I mean, what would you say is the most important thing you've learned in your time at Fiserv?
Rahul Gupta: Yes, I would say for me the most important thing has been--as I said, I've been at Fiserv nine or ten years and payments for about 20 years. And over that time, payments has moved from what I call the back office to the front office. Payments used to be all about, you know, the back-room processing, exception handling. Now it's much more about the consumer. And what I've learned is to focus on the consumer. And the consumer, as I said, is not thinking about payments; they're thinking about life. They're thinking about going to school or getting their kids through college or, you know, financing a vacation. And payments should just be part of that. So today, where payments are--the consumer still has to think too much about the payment itself. And the payment should just happen as part of life, because that's what the consumer is thinking about.
We have this thing at Fiserv where we say, "Financial services at the speed of life." And it's payments at the speed of life, right? And so it should be part of that.
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