Financial Inclusion: The Buck Starts Here

52 Minutes
22 Sep, 2022
Episode 5
Host Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Episode description

World Bank data shows almost 1.7 billion unbanked people globally, mostly in developing nations, are still transacting in cash. We dig into how FinTech solutions like agency banking, mobile money, and even gaming, plus high mobile phone penetration in affected regions worldwide, are playing a critic

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Episode Description

World Bank data shows almost 1.7 billion unbanked people globally, mostly in developing nations, are still transacting in cash. We dig into how FinTech solutions like agency banking, mobile money, and even gaming, plus high mobile phone penetration in affected regions worldwide, are playing a critical role in improving financial inclusion in these regions – and what the developing world can learn from it.

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1

This is Forward Exchanges by Nium, what’s next in modern money movement, one global conversation at a time.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Hello and welcome to Forward Exchanges from Nium. We know you’re trying to stay on top of fast emerging changes and global payments, when it’s all you can do to keep up with your day-to-day challenges. I’m Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk and on this podcast we are joined by trailblazers and veteran players, to investigate the real driving forces that are modernizing money movement and what’s building, or blocking its momentum around the world.

Whether you’re new to global payments, a digital transformation veteran, or you just wanna hear some great advice on what strategies create momentum in the global digital payments revolution, then this is the podcast for you. Today I’m joined by Spencer Hanlon, Global Head of Travel Payments and head of Europe at Nium, and Peny Rizou, Director of Global Payments at Etraveli Group. In this episode Peny and Spencer talk to us about how COVID-19, will be remembered as the reason digital transformation finally arrived in the travel industry, the backbone of all of this change and what’s in store for travel and payments, that we can all look forward too in the not distant future.

Spencer Hanlon

Hello, I’m Spencer, I look after Global Travel for Nium, and at Nium we’re trying to revolutionize global payments.

Peny Rizou

Hello my name is Peny Rizou, I’m heading the Global Payments at Etraveli Group, Etraveli Group is, uh, the worlds leading flight-centric OTA.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk
Well welcome to the show Spencer and Peny, it’s exciting to have you both here.

Spencer Hanlon
Thank you, nice to be here.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

One of the things I learned very early on in this series from the very first episode, is that the infrastructure around banking and payments globally is broken, and it’s a miracle that any payment gets anywhere in the amount and timeframe, (laughs), that we expect it too, that’s pretty much, (laughs), what it boils down to, but Spencer what do travel payments generally look like behind the scenes, I know that there’s a whole layer of additional challenges with travel payments globally. Can you tell me sort of what generally that looks like behind the scenes?

Spencer Hanlon

Sure. Um, travel payments have a number of different characteristics. First of all, they’re very established. So, travel payments have been around for many, many, many years, in fact it was one of the first global industries to really take off and need payments to catchup, as you have the movement of people around the world.

So, secondly it has scale, it is vast, trillions and trillions of dollars are flowing, it’s 24 hours, it’s every jurisdiction. Uh, so every country, every currency, and it’s two-way, and money flows to make the booking, and sometimes it flows back as the booking is then changed. So, it is truly global and truly complex, and truly an area that can be optimized, uh, to serve the industry and the participants better.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk
Peny, would you add anything to that?

Peny Rizou

I would like to add, co- complexity, because the more people go outside of the border, the more they travel, the more, er, options they’re being given, the more complex it is to accommodate all this from, uh, the payment perspective, because travel is about a lot of things, there is a lot of complexity in many areas, and payments is just one of it.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Mm-hmm. I’m curious about the B2B side of this, how are supplier payments conducted, is the more of the same, or is that different at all?

Spencer Hanlon

So, uh, from my perspective, obviously in travel, there’s a person traveling, be that a business traveler or a consumer, and they’re deciding what they want to buy, where they want to buy it, when they want to buy it, lets take the case of a holiday, the most obvious. So, they deciding, “They want to go to Thailand for Christmas,” great. However, there’s an entire industry behind that, that makes that happen seamlessly.

I doubt anyone would get on a plane to Thailand, if that complexity had not been solved by the industry. So, there’s the booking, there’s the distribution of that capacity, the confirmation, the- the settlement, the currency transfer. So, the B2B element, although it may appear to be invisible to the person browsing on the internet, and then drinking a pina colada a few months from now by the pool, but there is an entire industry working very hard to ensure that that- that is invisible and it works, and it’s reliable, people pay a lot of money for their holidays and they look forward to them very much, and so it’s beholden upon us all a great responsibility to make that work.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk Peny?

Peny Rizou

Yes, I couldn’t agree more. Imagine also one of our customers, that are coming in all the websites and all the markets, but we are active, uh, across the globe, he’s in Brazil, he wants to pay his reservation in Brazilian [Ya’s 00:05:23]. Uh, which for those that they know Brazil is a very tough market to- to manage and to- to process payments, and we the OTA, need to accommodate this payment, whereas the product he buys, the flights he buys might happen in somewhere else.

So, being able to accommodate from the customer perspective the paying, while trying to buy for the customer whatever product he might have selected, it could be flight, it could be insurance, it could be anything. It implies that in many cases you need to disconnect the customer payment from the B2B payment, because that way you are able to address complexity and offer, uh, customer an experience which is seamless.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Obviously the COVID-19 Pandemic was and arguably still is a huge challenge to the travel industry. Peny, what would you say the biggest of your challenges were in grappling with the pandemic?

Peny Rizou (
You’re scratching my wounds now, to be honest, (laughs).

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk I’m sorry, (laughs).

Spencer Hanlon (laughs), yes.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk
We won’t spend too much time on it I promise, (laughs).

Peny Rizou

… yes, it is true that the COVID situation put a lot of cha- challenges in the travel, uh, industry. I think it is one of the industries that they were most impacted, and who can not forget the airlines that they have put all of their planes into- onto the ground, they were not selling for many months.

They, some of them run out of cars, and they couldn’t even cover their Opex. So, it was a pretty bad situation that of course impacted the cash flow of their alliance, uh, a lot of them have post refunds and we acting as intermediaries, we were sit in the middle and waiting until the airlines would, uh, resume their operations, they would start paying back the refunds, so we can give the to the customers, but in the meantime customers of course could not wait for this, and they were rushing into our call centers, huge volumes of calls, and customer complaints, were coming into in our call centers, and not only us, but any OTA was prepared for that.

That also was interpreted into many charge backs, that they were coming in, in our, uh, company and we had to manage them and we had to find a way of get out of the situation in less painful way. I think we managed well, we know there so many things, uh, I mean, this situation revealed a lot of things that, uh, both us and the OTAs should invest more automations and so on, but I think that now we are entering a new era with people wanting to travel more.

Peny Rizou
So, it is, uh, happy moments, (laughs)
that we’re experiencing, uh, going forward.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Excellent. Spencer, were there any other big challenges due to the pandemic that maybe Peny didn’t cover that you saw making things even more difficult, I think specifically if there’s something in a specific market or?

Spencer Hanlon
First of all Peny sits much more at the sharp end-

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

(laughs), no idea.

Spencer Hanlon (
… uh, that we do in- in our segment.

So, uh, we’re very much in B2B space, and so we’re dealing with the companies, and the implications that they’re in, uh, not necessarily the consumers, we’re the facilitators and if you like the pipes behind, however I’ve been in the travel industry myself for over 30 years. I’ve been through a number of crises, whether its avian flu, the Gulf War, 9/11, uh, or the credit crunch and the pandemic is far in a way, the one with the most impact across the entire industry.

Never before have we seen the whole world make it almost illegal, uh, to travel, and what that teaches you, is that if you’re not automated, you’re not gonna survive, and unfortunately not everybody in our industry came with us out the other side, but what’s fascinating is it reset, almost every thing, and as we record this today, we’re facing a different challenge. Where simply forecasting is incredibly difficult, because we don’t have a year-on-year view to work against, everything is skewed, and demand is at an un- unprecedented level, because as human beings, we’re social animals and we want to be traveling.

And so, yes it’s- it’s- it’s a, it’s a nicer problem to have, in terms of trying to accommodate this new demand, the speed of ram pop, versus trying to stay in business, but it’s a problem non the less, and I think the whole industry is learning that automation, simplicity, uh, again coming back to the old favorite of battling complexity, is the way through this and the whole industry is- is- is raising the bar, to be able to handle, hopefully never again, but should we have to handle another pandemic better.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Spencer you mentioned this idea of complexity and Peny you had earlier as well, so speaking of pointy ends, sorry, I just wanna dig into that a little, (laughs), bit. Peny, you’re coming from an OTA and your company offers technical solutions for travelers and flights, and so tell me a little bit more about the complexity in payments that OTAs faces?

Peny Rizou

Uh, Etraveli Group is a flight-centric OTA, and flight-centric means that we mainly sell flights, and we develop technology, so that we are able to offer the best prices, the most relevant combinations and options, to our customers, in the most seamless way, and that of course includes payments, because when, we are active in, uh, uh, more than 70

markets, and when, uh, we offer, uh, more than 40 currencies and, uh, when we do business with hundreds of airlines and utilizing different distribution channels.

This means that only to find an automated way as, uh, Spencer said very correctly underlined in his, um, comment before, to ensure that the customer will get what he wants, without being bother what’s happening on the back. So, for example, imagine a customer who is in, uh, U.S. he wants to pay in, uh, U.S. dollars, he doesn’t care the product he buys in which currency it is going to be paid, because it could be paid in a different currency for different business reasons, it could be paid in Euro, it could be paid in, uh, I don’t know, er, pick a currency-

… and then he also wants to get in his payment slip the amount of USD, uh, older that he saw in our website, without having conversion fees, and without having to call his bank and ask for explanations on why he saw, “That fee, or that conversion, and so on.”

This means that from our perspective depending on where our customer is, what currencies we offer to him, like we need to offer, we need to have a multi-currency setup, we need to have a multi-partner setup, we need to be able to accommodate local payments, local payment methods, that doesn’t include only cards, it includes, uh, BNPL methods, it includes wallet methods, it includes local methods that they are super familiar to the customer and of course it is much more convenient for them.

So, we need to offer them and that does not necessarily mean that can be linked directly with how we pay the airlines, or how we pay different other suppliers, that requires a lot of technology on the back, a lot of features, a lot of innovation. Er, we also need to be able and screen our customers, understand have tried fraud prevention tactics, so that we make sure we don’t let the fraudsters coming in.

It is not simple, it’s not a button that you push and say, “Okay, now I found the fraudster, I decline them,” you need data, you need tools, you need intelligence, you need team, you need so many things, skilled people, processes, automations, and then all that are very well embedded with a flight product.

Because the flight product in many cases both on the B2B but also on the B2C, can not be seen differently for many reasons. So, I hope that’s good enough only to scratch

… how complex the travel industry and the payments within travel industry are, (laughs). Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Spencer any other challenges that these methods create?

Spencer Hanlon

Yeah, I mean, and Peny said it. It is a very petu- peculiar industry that has invented it’s own processes and terminology, we could riff for quite a while on- on the- the abbreviations and the slang that we use in our industry, but the fundamental problem is we have a- a product that disappears at a certain date. Take a seat, a flight seat, once the plane’s taken off, if someone is not sitting in that seat, it’s wasted, all right?

It’s depreciated to zero, and so we have a global industry that is very time specific, either the room is full, or the seat is full, but there’s a trade and a contract that is done globally millions of times a day through the services of online travel agencies and brick-and- mortar travel agencies historically, that tries to tackle that complexity with trust. There needs to be trust, the person selling the seat and the person buying the seat, the person selling the hotel room and buying the hotel room, don’t know each other, but the whole ecosystem relies on this sense of trust in the system.

So, that the provider, the vendor, the airline or met- or- or hotel, or car hire, whom ever, has confidence that they will get paid for allocating that product to that person on that day for that price, and everything that we do underpins that promise. So that the system works, because we are talking about a future contract, it’s not at the time, you’re paying for it, you’re not actually consuming it, and that’s the unique nature of our ecosystem, which makes it so- so complex, so sophisticated, you do that in multiple currencies, multiple languages, multiple cultures, but the underlying principal is that the system is trustworthy.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Mm-hmm. We talk a lot in the financial technology sector about the, “Amazoning of Finance,” if you will or in this case, “How the Uber experience is coming for travel payments.” Tell me a little bit about this?

Spencer Hanlon (

Certainly from my perspective, I love the Uber example. Uber is good, for the first time that invisible payments really meant something to me. The idea that you can get in a taxi, you can get to the other end, there is no conversation about, “How much do I owe you,” no awkwardness about deciding the tip, no, “Can I have a receipt,” and that strange conversation of, “Do you want to fill it in yourself?”

Uh, all this sort of stuff, right? All of that goes away, you just shut the door and walk away, knowing that the payment will happen. To me, when I first did that, that was a revolution and I really, it really meant something, we’re not there with travel. There have been experiments with it in the past, I remember some of the domestic carriers had this thing, where you turn up at the gate, you fly and then you get charged.

It’s never really taken off, so this pay as you consume in the background hasn’t happened, that said, there is a tremendous amount that’s getting close, extra bags, onboard product. So, we’re- we’re getting close, but we haven’t fully got to the situation where you consume and pay behind, and it comes back to my previous topic around the fact, that what we’re buying in the most instance is a future pr- a future promise of delivery and the securing of your contract to demand, is the challenge.

Spencer Hanlon
Peny, what do you think?

Peny Rizou

Uh, I think it’s very interesting to hear, um, what you’re saying Spencer. I think that the Uber example clearly demonstrates that there is a direct connection with the service delivery when- when the payment is happening, but that’s why it is, it’s happening on the back and you don’t need to know, you as a customer, don’t need to know on anything about you said, but on the travel, I’m just thinking on how the airlines for example because I can only talk for, uh, for my, er, domain, whether the airlines would be willing to- to charge as you fly, because one of the reasons that the tickets and the flight tickets are being paid before they fly, is to secure the position, to allow more cash flow for the airlines to operate, and usually from the customer behavioral perspective, there is a tendency, the booking window as we, as we call it like, the date, that you book to the dates that you start your first trip, to be quite big in certain cases.

I mean COVID brought that smaller, because of, uh, insecurity and the planning, but in general it was I don’t know 60, 90 days on average maybe more depending on the portfolio of its, uh, OTA airlines. So, will the airlines or any other service provider that, uh, resembles the airline model be willing to sacrifice the cash flow, so that they offer the customer that experience? Is there any other way that they can solve this problem of the funding so that they can take with one shot two birds down? I don’t know, I think we will have to wait and see.


I think you’re absolutely right. I think the closest we got is private air. So, the- the private air charter market is perhaps the closest but still not there.

There is still a price differential to- to renting an aircraft on a Friday afternoon, than on a Tuesday mid-morning, right? So, even then there is a demand and a, and a price difference that exists.

Peny Rizou

And also it’s also the need of the customer to make, to be sure that he will have a seat when he plans for his summer vacation. So, that comes with a price, you know, the pre- booking also as, uh, er, as a service.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

This Ubering of everything doesn’t always align to how the airline business is run. Peny, Spencer mentioned that there are several partners and colleagues and- and companies that you worked with that did not make it out of the other side of the pandemic, because those margins are so small. Um, tell me a little bit about that side of the complexity and not necessarily cost, but tho- how those margins impact and that there’s always this sort of bankruptcy risk, or cost risk associated with these kinds of transactions?

Peny Rizou

It is true. Uh, OTA business is a very thin business, and one of the key success factors for an OTA, is to be diligent in every aspect of the offering, it could be payment offering, it could be flight offering, it could be content, it could pricing, it could be a portfolio of, er, lets say key elements that insure our offering, our flight offering is both competitive, but also profitable enough to cover for our expenses, and insure that the company is healthy.

Peny Rizou

Now one of the risks that we face it comes without saying, it’s our partners bankruptcy risk, and if the partner is super small, okay, maybe if super large OTA can absorb, but if the partner, if the airline, uh, the hotel is large then the OTA is in danger of being dragged to bankruptcy as well.

So, the are a lot of mechanisms in the industry when it comes to payments to ensure that there is bankruptcy protection, it’s one of the most important things that we ensure that they are well taken care of, and by doing that it allows us, it- it gives us the comfort to be able and, uh, grow ourselves, to be able an expand in different markets, put more airlines in our portfolio with a diligent way of course, without having in our agenda exposure or bankruptcy risk, uh, on our partner side.

So, of course I’m referring to B2B payments, because as an OTA you have different risks, you have of course the customer risks, fraudsters, and charge backs, and everything but there you have the tools to manage them, fraud prevention tools and you make sure that you do your best in order to minimize the- the exposure and the cost, but when it comes to the B2B payments, depending on who the partner is, it could be super large as a risk.

So, we also use payment options that offer bankruptcy protection on our B2B payments, to ensure that we operate in a safe environment.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk (23:41):
Spencer was there anything you wanted to add?

Spencer Hanlon

No, the, fi- first of all I see Peny is being very modest. She represents one of the, uh, organizations, that I think is most equipped and most professional in understanding the value of payments. When we look across our landscape, you can go from cash to bank transfer, to credit card, to what we have in the industry clearing house. Uh, a giant clearing houses run by the industry, and not put any of them down, or- or boost anyone, they all have their advantages and disadvantages, some are more secure, uh, in terms of, uh, when things go wrong, some are easy to administer.

I’m struggling to find the advantage for cash, but I’m sure it’s there, (laughs), somewhere and it’s really about understanding it, and what I’ve been struck by, uh, 20-years, 30-years ago, when I joined the industry, the role of payments in the industry was tiny. Now 30 plus years later it is a differentiated, a competitive advantage no doubt about it, and at times a survival line. Uh, and so the call out I would make to the industry whatever, uh, whatever tool you’re going to use is, “Attempt to get to a level of knowledge that, uh, Peny and her team have got because it is a- a, it is a competitive life line you will rely on for many years.”

If we’d be so bold as to- to predict that 10-years from now, those that don’t have that knowledge and don’t have that skillset in their organization probably won’t be here.

Peny Rizou

And I- I think Spencer what you say about knowledge, when it comes to payments, is important and it goes beyond payments, because the biggest challenge for every industry or organization is to be able and connect payments with the product that they sell. It comes without saying, that when you use all the payment options that, uh, you just mentioned, both of us, we have heard a- a lot of stories about payment options that they

are, uh, advertised and they are considered the best, the- the most, uh, zero cost and so on, but knowledge around what a payment option really mean for an organization, is not straightforward and not easy to find, because it goes beyond payment knowledge, it goes how your payments are embedded with your business.

And let me give an example of that, so that it’s more clear to- to the audience, there are partners that they say, “That payment option is pretty expensive,” and if I would use cash for example, or an equivalent payment option, it would be so much cheaper, but then there is a list of at least 15 factors that now came to my head. That have not been taken into consideration in their model, and all of these factors aren’t there in direct costs.

It’s the call center investment, it’s, uh, the fraud prevention that they need to invest, it’s, uh, the cost of air facts, it’s the heading cost, it’s the conversion, it’s, you know, I can give you a list of 20, 25.

So, if we only see things in one dimension, then I believe that the big picture is now the time to start focusing on, because eventually it all goes down to two things, “If I see things in a more umbrella view, do I eventually manage to take decisions that they will boost my sales and profitability, so I claim myself as a healthy company that I can grow and develop and offer valuable service to my customer?”

If the answer is, “Yes,” it doesn’t matter if one element of the equation is more or less expensive, it does matter equation and the impact it delivers to the organization.

Spencer Hanlon Fully agree.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Obviously the, we- we talked about how the pandemic has hastened a considerable amount of change across the travel industry. It sounds like these processes of invoicing, cash refunds, working in cash, (laughs), Spencer you said, “I struggle, (laughs), to see the advantages of cash,” (laughs), but what’s coming in to take its place then?

Spencer Hanlon

It’s not coming, it’s already been here. So, we have the ca- the- the sc- the card schemes. Card schemes, were one of the first solutions that our industry founded back in post-war times. In fact it was founded simp- uh, slightly before the war, but it really took off post- second World War, here in Europe, where we had a lot of North-American GI’s, who were

having to send money home, or repatriate funds, and American Express built it’s business on the back of that.

So, for travel for- for a reason hopefully we don’t have to repeat, but certainly a large travel, uh, movement of individuals, and that credit card network is we- we take it for granted, but it is incredible, in terms of its scope. The days where nonacceptance of the two major schemes was a discussion point, are largely over. We don’t, we don’t, we don’t talk about it so much anymore,

I certainly remember growing up, there were just like with Coke, there were discussions about, “Whether you’re a Pepsi or a Coca-Cola, in terms of your acceptance landscape,” it doesn’t exist anymore. So, that credit card network is there, and then there are other forms, Cr- Crypto is the one knocking on the door. Unproven, er, and we’ll have to see it’s true application, and it’s true longevity, and certainly there are evangelists on both sides, but I would say almost that’s irrelevant, right?

Whether it’s cash, whether it’s clearing house, whether it’s credit card, whether it’s Crypto, I come back and I support wholeheartedly Peny’s position here is, “Payments is a vital success factor in our industry.”

If you ignore it, you ignore it your parrel, become familiar with it, became inquisitive about it, le- learn to build the products exactly as Peny said, you can differentiate your products, by dev- by mastering payments and, uh, so whatever the solution is of the future, don’t fall into it, be part of the exploration in development of it. Peny, I don’t know what you think?

Peny Rizou

No, no I fully agree. I mean, uh, we- we are fully aligned on that, payments is a differentiate factor, simply because it is related with a customer experience, and eventually with the ability of a company to excite the customer, because, you know, it’s all about exciting the customer, (laughs), getting the product, paid it and be happy with it. So, I can see applications of payments in, uh, call centers, I can see applications of payments in automations, related to refunds, related to self service, related to any other interaction that the customer could have for, that require a monitory exchange. I can see relevance with payments tighter, or less tighter, depending on the business models for example, flights within travel is a business model where payments are quite very well embedded.

There are decision points, when you try to- to book a flight, that they’re related to payments. So, that itself, indicates how important it is to view payments in a 360 view and see you can embed it in a different, in your booking path, or a different parts of your business, that eventually will end up with an advance customer experience.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

What innovations in the business of travel are you really exited about, as you start to look forward to and think about life post-pandemic?

Spencer Hanlon

So, uh, travel is going more global, more instantaneous, the demand is rising, we’ve proven that case, yes there are challenges with pandemics, and we have to talk all of that learning and we had to take on the fact that this a- a globe that is insecure, you just look at the Ukraine crisis, we have to deal with those things all the time, but the future its robust, and the case is made that we will continue to travel.

I don’t think necessarily the challenges for travel whiles complex, and very particular, and you need to be specialized in it, are very different than the rest of payments globally, at the end of the day, what we need is that the B2B environment keeps pace with the B2C. As consumers, we are now becoming beyond used to demanding instantaneous action. So, by the touch of a piece of glass that we hold in our pocket, we want to buy something, we want to order something and we want that in- in no hassle at all.

So, one click checkout, using our face as ID, all these things are being driven by the consumer side, and B2B is always been a laggard, usually the interfaces are horrible, it’s really hard to use the screens that demand it. The timelines are terrible three, five days, and the costs, are eye watering. Whereas it can’t make costs simply a matter of cents for the consumer, it’s quite possible that 50, 60, 70 Euros are the cost that are beholden upon a business to make an international payment.

Those days must go, and so I think travel just as with all B2B should be starting to target itself that any payment anywhere in the world in under five seconds, with a cost that is affordable and an environment that is reliable and secure.

Spencer Hanlon

That’s where we’re trying to get to, regardless of the medium you use. I think that’s the challenge upon the whole payment’s industry. The beauty is fintech is here, the cavalry is coming, it’s coming over the, uh, over the hill and competition is driving that solution, it’s not tomorrow, but it’s certainly within, um, my career, and hopefully shorter in than that,

three, five, 10-years. I think we always underestimate what can be achieved in 10-years, but I’d be fascinated to hear Peny’s view?

Peny Rizou

For sure matching the B2C with the B2B ecosystem, uh, I- I would say it’s- it’s an important pillar, and when I hear the word, “Innovation,” what my, actually when we hear the word, “Innovation,” the first thing that comes to- to our head is, amazing solutions, uh, new products, something new, something that doesn’t exist, but I think that the true thing here is, adoption.

There are many products out there, there are more to come, there are more to evolve, and allow speed, allow accuracy, allow a seamless experience, but then when it comes to B2B payments, is the adoption rate, how fast the companies, either on the merchant side, or the fintech side, or the provider sides, how fast do they adopt all these product, innovation is important, but adoption at this stage is more important, I would say.

One it comes to travel, and travel agents more specifically online one, one’s like us. I think that the COVID situation as I said earlier, indicated that more investment needs to be done in automations. Of course all of us received 10 times, 20 times higher traffic then we were supposed to. Yet, it is important also to invest in automations, and anything that will optimize and advance our, uh, customer ex- experience, and that counts for the whole industry. So, I think that customer ex- experience also is an area that innovation needs to target, and that experience I think includes all, it includes payments, it includes, it includes everything.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Any final thoughts that either of you would like to share anything we skipped over, or didn’t touch on that you wanted to, that you wanted to share?

Spencer Hanlon

Payments in travel, let me make a- a bold assentation. I think payments in travel was, uh, was one of the early fintech industries before the name fintech, became trendy, right?

Yeah, we’d moved beyond the legacy, uh, Swift many, many years ago, we were using tools sets that were allowing instantaneous payment, we were allowing high data sets to flow amongst the network. We were doing that way before everyone started wearing jeans and trainers, and calling themselves, “Fintech.” So, maybe we’re blowing our own trumpet, but I think the application of the new tools, of the new products, of the new

knowledge, and the new focus that the- the global economy is placing on this, only can fast track how payments are penetrated further and more effectively within travel spare.

Peny Rizou

I would add, uh, travel tech into the pair of jeans and sneakers, uh, Spencer, it’s travel tech and fintech that, uh, now trends when it comes to the industry, and indeed the more global you are, the more you need to- to invest in technology, and this is what we do, we invest in technology, actually our CEO says that, “We are a technology company that offers travel, uh, services,” and that by itself says it all, focusing on how to, how to serve customers, how to serve and, uh, user will, uh, show us the way on, uh, how to innovate, and how to- to utilize payments, technology and anything that is relevant to the business model of its industry.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Thank you both so much. That is all the time that we have today, I wanna say thank you so much to Spencer and Peny for joining us today, to give us some insight and discuss what modern money movement is really all about. On this show, we’re investigating the real driving forces that are modernizing money movement, and what it’s building, or blocking, it’s momentum around the world.

Make sure you’re subscribed, check us out at, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and if you’re enjoying the show, leave us a review and tell us what you like, we’d love to hear from you. I’m Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk, and this is been Forward Exchanges from Nium.

Listen here or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts:


Dylan Lowrey
General Counsel and Head of Regulatory, Nium
Pat Patel
Executive Director, Elevandi
Isvary Sivalingam  
Regional Lead - Southeast Asia, Better Than Cash Alliance at UN Capital Development Fund


Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk
Brand Marketing and Communications Strategist

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