A Q&A with Ingenico’s Mike Goodenough  

As Covid-19 continues to progress, there is a lot of speculation about what the recovery process will look like for payments. Speaking to Evie Rusman, Ingenico’s ePayments General Manager EMEA, Mike Goodenough, discusses how the company has responded to the pandemic and looks to the future

Evie Rusman: How has Covid-19 impacted the payments industry in the EMEA region compared to in APAC?

Mike Goodenough: From the perspective of where we are in the crisis, we are still running two or three weeks behind the Asia Pacific region. We are also less experienced when it comes to dealing with the virus -in Asia Pac, they have had previous experience of a Covid-type virus.

From a business perspective and within Ingenico
e-payments, 35% of our business is in the travel sector, which includes airlines, OTAs and hospitality. Therefore, we are having to split our focus between helping merchants who are growing to continue to expand at this time, but also diverting resources into supporting those merchants that are more impacted than others.

What are the specific challenges businesses are currently facing and will continue to face post-Covid-19? 

The challenges they face at the moment relate very much to retooling their business models. It's in the news every day, if you're an airline or OTA, you've seen the transaction profile completely reversed. We are still seeing a lot of transactions for these merchants but of course these are negative transactions. Airlines have had to completely switch their business model to manage the historic – tickets they have already sold etc. That means they need to look very closely at their cash flow and flexibility around how they manage that.

For us, that means that we have to support these merchants and we are quite lucky that we work in the enterprise business. Through our online systems, we can support merchants by enabling them to track positive and negative transactions. We can also help by allowing them to automatically manage and dispute chargebacks.

How well have governments in the EMEA region supported merchants in the payments sector? 

I think from a scheme perspective we have seen some positive movements. If you look at how Visa and Mastercard in particular are looking at some of the regulations that have been brought in around the handling of chargebacks. We have seen some positive movements there and the engagement we have with the acquirers and the schemes is very open.

We're quite happy with the level of support that we're receiving and of course, this is a real relief to merchants as we can communicate directly with them on the scheme changes and reassure them there'll be a period of time when some of those rules will be relaxed.

From a governmental perspective, we are in contact with the Dutch Central Bank because that is where we hold our licence. We haven’t seen any major changes here that are going to help us – I think the engagement level is high and it is about information sharing, but I personally haven’t seen any national changes that would make a difference to us in the short term.

Will the pandemic accelerate the move to a cashless society?  

 Yes, I think it will. In the physical world, I think it's amazing how quickly things can change because of the technologies in place. In the last few weeks, we have seen more people using mobile wallets and contactless technology. Contactless technology has been able to accelerate to the point that even if you order something to your door you can tap and pay. It's been a really quick transformation because the underlying technology is there, and I think it will accelerate the move to cashless – we are already seeing it.

How has Ingenico responded to Covid-19? 

One of the most obvious changes has been the move to working from home. This happened very quickly and was something that was really seamless. From a business perspective, we have had to really ensure that we're supporting our merchants through tools to help them automate operations and increasing the frequency of providing financial data. We currently have 650 merchants and Covid-19 has meant we have been engaging with them on a deeper level.

We have also looked at whether we need to reprioritise certain products at this time, which brings the focus onto what our merchants are asking us. Of course, we've looked very much at the cost savings as a business to make sure that over the next three-to-six months we tighten our belts and grow from a vertical perspective.