Voice of the Industry

Meeting the demand for seamless consumer payments experiences

Tuesday 23 May 2023 09:02 CET | Editor: Irina Ionescu | Voice of the industry

Ricardo Leite, Senior Vice President, Head of International Markets at Discover Global Network, discusses how consumer behaviour and modern technology are converging to create new payment experiences and how the industry can provide a seamless experience while maximising security and profitability.

Consumers have different expectations when in to comes to payment choices in 2023

Consumers have adopted new technologies, from contactless to digital payments, very quickly over the past three years. We can talk about contactless, in-app payments, buy online, pick up in store, and Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions- a variety of digital payment solutions out there. 

According to the Fintech State of the Union Study we commissioned with 451 Research in 2022, digital payment adoption levels are similar in North America (69%) and Europe (66%), and much higher in Asia (94%) and among Gen Z (90%) and Millennials (91%). With this digital first approach, there has been a considerable influx of fintech companies offering new apps and services with over 87% of global consumers surveyed indicating they have at least one fintech app on their smartphone1.  

We work with many fintech partners to enable payments within their solutions, such as Wellthi in the US and, from a B2B payments perspective, Mystifly in Europe. We believe our issuing and acquiring partners will continue to expand their capabilities through these types of solutions. In turn, this offers consumers more choice and merchants the ability to tap into new customer segments.

While not a new trend, as more consumers take a digital-first approach, friction becomes more of a concern. Frictionless payment experiences through solutions like card-on-file create an easier shopping experience online. 

In fact, 44% of consumers prefer to use stored payment credentials (digital wallet or one-click checkout) when paying online and more than half of consumers show interest in connected commerce experiences2. We expect this to continue into 2024, along with embedded finance, which is projected to reach over USD 300 billion by 20303

Embedded finance solutions present an opportunity for brands to integrate payments into non-financial customer journeys. This provides opportunities for issuers to grow their services and merchants to participate in novel payment experiences via platforms such as social media, rewards sites, and customer loyalty programmes, which will meet the demand from younger consumers. 

Travelling makes a huge comeback but with post-pandemic twists

More consumers are travelling now that restrictions are lifting. However, tourists may expect changes in the way the travel, especially to countries where cash has been the primary method of payment acceptance. Cash-only destinations are steadily shifting towards a digitalised approach, which could mean big changes are in store for merchants in the upcoming years.

When it comes to travel, tourists can expect to see a rise in alternative payment options, even in geographies where cash has traditionally been the preferred payment method. There are predictions that the use of physical cash will fall to 9.8% share in 2025, lowest in North America (5.6%) and APAC (7.7%), and highest in MEA (31.3%) and LATAM (23.6%)4.  

If we look at LATAM, for example, cash accounted for 35.6% of 2021 POS (point of sale) transaction value (USD 600 billion) and is projected to less than 24% of POS sales by 2025. LATAM will also see mobile wallets nearly double between 2021 and 20255.  

In Mexico specifically, where cash has been the preferred payment method, the National Financial Inclusion Policy (Política Nacional de Inclusión Financiera) has an objective, among others, to increase digital payments among the population, retailers, enterprises, and government. So, the trend, even in locations where ’cash is king‘, is pointing in the direction of increasing acceptance of alternate payment methods.

By looking at these trends within the greater context of consumers, who we already know prefer to use cards, digital wallets and are interested in frictionless payments, it means that when travelling, they are taking their payment preferences with them. So, merchants who are ready to accept travellers' preferred payment methods will stand to benefit. While a completely cashless economy may not be in store yet, both consumers and businesses are increasingly recognising the benefits this transition could bring, including cross-border payments and more efficient transaction tracing. It is crucial for merchants to stay informed about the latest developments, work with their acquirers and processors in market and minimise any disruptions that may arise.

Fraud predictions for 2024 and what can acquirers, issuers, and merchants do to stay ahead of fraud

With the increase in Open Banking, data sharing, and desire for digital first experiences, we expect fraud will continue to be on the minds of consumers. In 2022, INTERPOL released a report that leveraged data from their 195-country membership to map out current and emerging threats worldwide. The report found that 60% of their respondents rank crimes such as money laundering, ransomware, phishing, and online scams as high or very high threats. More than 70% of the respondents expect crimes such as ransomware and phishing attacks to increase or significantly increase in the next three to five years6

Looking ahead, we are going to continue to see more of the same types of payments fraud. Identity theft, chargeback fraud, account takeover, man-in-the-middle attacks, and malware will continue being high risks. Also, fraudsters will rely on AI (Artificial Intelligence), machine learning, and automation to exploit vulnerabilities. AI in the hands of cybercriminals has already led to phishing emails that are far more custom and attractive to their targets-highly optimised to generate clicks. AI is only scratching the surface of what is to come as these cybercriminals grow their understanding of how to harness it.

To stay ahead of these types of fraud, the use of advanced AI for payments fraud detection and prevention will only gain momentum with acquirers, issuers, and merchants in the years ahead. We are working closely with the industry to support these efforts.

Biometrics is another security measure that we see gaining popularity with merchants and their customers. In fact, 92% of merchants believe biometrics are an effective form of fraud prevention7.  And consumers are most interested in using biometric payments to pay with a card that uses fingerprint instead of a PIN (Personal Identification Number) (67%), authenticate payment with a smartphone (66%), and pay in-store with a touchless fingerprint or palm scanner in place of a payment card (65%)8. These numbers are not surprising, given how easy biometric authentication is, what we know about consumers and how appealing frictionless processes are in their payments experience.

Consumers expect alternatives and freedom in how they shop and pay

Today’s consumers expect to be given alternatives in how they shop and pay, and merchants want to deliver a seamless experience for their customers. 

At Discover Global Network, we aim to ensure our cardholders have a seamless experience, whether they are making purchases online, from their home location, or when travelling abroad. This means we are focused on the quality of our acceptance footprint and enabling the latest payments technologies. Through partnerships with our acquirers, we work together to bring acceptance and awareness of these capabilities to merchants. 

Alternative payment options are all about improving customer experience and boosting business transactions, leading to increased profitability. In fact, 52% of merchants surveyed globally report one of their top in-store and check out priorities is accepting more types of payment methods9. The desire for most global merchants to provide options for customers is there, but, as with any technological upgrade, there are challenges.

Merchants turn to social media over other options when it comes to gathering information on new payment technologies10. While social media can inform and educate, it might also contribute a feeling of not knowing what payment acceptance methods are worth the investment. 

Optimising the payment experience for customers requires a tailored approach that considers their preferences and the available payment options. By partnering with their acquirers, merchants can determine which payment technologies are worth investing in and provide their customers with a seamless payment experience. 


  1. 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, Key Findings: Global Fintech Vendor and Consumer Study commissioned by Discover Global Network, completed August 2022

  2. 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, Key Findings: Global Fintech Vendor and Consumer Study commissioned by Discover Global Network, completed August 2022

  3. Embedded finance predictions: Insights into a fast-evolving market | by Ben Robinson | aperture.hub | Medium

  4. FIS Worldpay The Global Payments Report.

  5. FIS Worldpay The Global Payments Report.

  6. Financial and cybercrimes top global police concerns, says new INTERPOL report

  7. 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, Key Findings: Global Merchant & Consumer Payments Survey: Commissioned by Discover Global Network, completed November 2021

  8. 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, Key Findings: Global Merchant & Consumer Payments Survey: Commissioned by Discover Global Network, completed November 2021

  9. Please refer to page 12 in the Global Merchant & Consumer Payment Survey Key Findings report posted in the substantiation document section.

  10. Mercator Advisory Group, Debit Merchant Trends Study, Feb. 2022


About Ricardo Leite

Ricardo is an experienced financial services industry professional (B2B/B2C) with more than 25 years of working for multinational organisations in the areas of payments, corporate strategy, business management and development, and client relationship management. Prior to leading Discover Global Network International Markets, Ricardo served as Head of Global Products & Partnerships. Past employer list includes, among others, American Express, Mastercard International, Visa USA, Deloitte, and Touche Consulting Group.

About Discover Global Network

Discover® Global Network, the global payments brand of Discover Financial Services, processes millions of cardholder transactions each day. With industry expertise, innovative technology, and a closed-loop infrastructure, Discover Global Network provides effective, customised solutions that evolve as needs change. For more information, visit DiscoverGlobalNetwork.com.

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Keywords: debit card, credit card, BNPL, card on file, fraud detection, fraud management, online fraud, payment fraud, transaction fraud, biometrics, biometric authentication, online payments, digital payments, cybercrime, artificial intelligence, chargebacks, account takeover, malware, travel payments, cash management, local payment method
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Discover, Discover Global Network
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce



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