Q&A: change, customers and killing cash

The payments industry is under siege from disruption led by new technologies as consumers abandon traditional methods at an astonishing rate.

At the recent ANZ Leadership Forum, global head of Merchant & Acquirer Solutions at Visa Jack Forestell sat down with ANZ’s General Manager, Australia Division Services & Strategy Tony Maughan to talk about a wide range of issues including payments, leadership and working in a world that wants to change.

They started by addressing the war on cash. 

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Forestell: You know at Visa, we’re a very large company - we operate in 200 countries around the world, we process 160 billion payments a year. But our business is very simple: we process payments. We bring them across the network and we make payments simpler, easier and more secure.

We’ve made a lot of progress in the world getting rid of cash, making payments safe and more convenient.  But we still have a long, long way to go. There is still $US17 trillion dollar worth a of cash and cheque payments left on earth. 

"I can’t for the life of me understand why any consumer would ever really want to stay wedded to [cash].” – Jack Forestell

I can’t for the life of me understand why any consumer would ever really want to stay wedded to that form of payment. We live for it. We wake up in the morning obsessing over getting rid of cash.

There are a lot of small businesses out there that – even though they accept payments – they still have high concentrations of cash. 

At Visa, we’re hearing more examples of small businesses saying, ‘You know, my customers aren’t using cash that much anymore. It’s a hassle. I spend a lot of time and money reconciling cash. I’m just gonna get rid of it’.

We’ve decided we need to make it socially acceptable for a small business to say ‘we’re just not taking cash anymore’.

Maughan: There’s an interesting conversation playing out in the Australian economy.

You look at some of the coffee shops around our office. There were some initial conversations around using cashless solutions for a coffee and the owners weren’t sure if they wanted cashless for a sub $4.00 transaction.    

Now they lap it up. Once they make that switch they think it’s fantastic. The butcher in my local area made that call and has gone completely cashless. There was a little bit of anxiety for the first few days but the butcher is saying that their customers now prefer cashless.

Forestell: We’ve seen powerful results with cashless.

I talk about the experience in Australia a lot around the rest of the world. Australia is the number one world champion at contactless payments. As a result we’ve seen a massive migration out of cash as consumers have confidence that these transactions are fast and easy.

We view our primary competitor as cash. There’s no insult intended to our competitors who are formidable in what they do – but cash is by far the bigger player, so to speak. And cash is kind of defenceless, too. 

Maughan: You’ve worked through transformations at several organisations. At ANZ we’re currently going through a transformation ourselves with our change to an agile New Way of Working. Do you have any insights as ANZ undertakes this journey?

Forestell: Undergoing an agile transformation felt like a very iterative process for me as a leader.

In my first experience reinventing and rethinking how we approached the customer experience and deliverables, we thought what we needed to do was bring in new people with new ways of thinking.

We went out and hired people from tech giants and start-ups, and it was great. But then in about four or five months, there was an overwhelming frustration in the team because what I’d really done is taken a ‘species’ from outside and brought them in to a completely different environment. It wasn’t very conducive.

What I’d realised is that it’s great to get new people but what you really need to do is change yourselves. Change the way you think about going to market, work and collaborate with each other.

So we adopted the agile framework – not just as a product development process – but as a way of running our business.

Maughan: So where did the drive come from – was it the senior executive group or technology or was it a grass roots thing?

Forestell: I think it was a little bit of a combination. From inside they were saying ‘you know we have so much of an opportunity if we could just get out of our own way…and act like we were a much smaller company’.

Once we got our CEO and our senior team on board. It really did need that push. It wasn’t some small little group that needed changing – it was everything.

What I grew to realise was my job was all about removing roadblocks – asking the teams ‘what is in your way?’

Of course there’re a lot of roadblocks. One of the roadblocks was that so many of our teams thought that they were already agile. Then of course you would go to see the teams, and see what they were doing, and find that it wasn’t quite like that. There were a lot of post-it notes and a lot of people standing up during meetings but not focusing on doing things in new ways.

When it comes to an agile methodology, it doesn’t really matter what method you choose. But my biggest recommendation is to choose one and then actually do it. Because there’s that tendency to say ‘yeah, we’re sort of doing this, but we’re different to everyone else’.  And that’s not enough.

Shane White is senior production editor at bluenotes

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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