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Mobile payments and COVID-19: What will change forever?


“Digital transformation means running things digitally and adopting new business models. It means new ways of monetising and new service delivery models. Digital transformation never stops. Many companies had started it before the pandemic happened.” So said Centili Group CEO Zoran Vasiljev a recent MEF panel, discussing the pandemic’s impact on mobile payments.

James Williams hosted the panel as part of the MEF Connects: Digital Transformation virtual event, held 25-27 May.

“With social distancing and isolation kicking in, we were reminded what increased convenience means and how it is created in the digital paradigm. Messaging emerged as a preferred platform, together with a recognition that adding payments to messaging sessions brings extra convenience,” Vasiljev said.

Digitising payments

Bentzi Aviv of Amdocs said the pandemic taught us that digital transformation succeeds if done on the ecosystem level. Companies gathered in the panel spent a decade or more digitising payments in various shapes and forms. Their role in making digital transformation easier for other companies is clear, speakers said. At the same time, they have important work to do for end customers, as Diego Conforti of Digital Virgo stressed.

“It is our job to remove the complexity and make sure the end-user doesn’t see it,” he said.

Vasiljev sees opportunities for mobile payments in the unbanked space; cooperation is key to facilitating the digital evolution of businesses and organisations, he believes.

A move towards cashless

According to Josh Gosliner of Boku, the pandemic could mark the beginning of the end of cash, accelerating change in consumer preferences. A dislike towards “carrying around paper and metal that so many people touch” has been apparent for some time now, and there are reasons for governments to support the shift, too.

Sweden is far ahead – in 2023, they will likely become the world’s first cashless society. In 2010, 39% of Swedish people participating in their central bank survey said they paid for their most recent purchase in cash. By 2020, this had decreased to 9 per cent.[1] Yet, speakers said that in countries with stronger preferences for cash, the transformation will be slower despite the pandemic.

MEF Connects also explored identity and digital marketing topics, with Infobippers Kreso Zmak, Viktorija Radman, Miriam Percan and Ognjen Martinovic participating as speakers.

[1] Payments in Sweden 2020 – Cash is losing ground, Sweden’s central bank


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