Perspective: Living through the Great Global Transition

Have you ever wondered how real consumers are dealing with the changes in our industry? We’ve wondered too, and over the past three years, we’ve conducted research to understand consumer attitudes and behaviors in the areas of shopping, payments, banking and money management.

Our latest research was conducted in 10 countries and included nearly 4,000 consumers. We conducted detailed in-home interviews and were privileged to be able to follow many consumers for two weeks as they shopped and banked, and we were able to observe how their shopping and banking is evolving.

We spoke to Ruma from Dubai, who shops online to save time. Molly, a busy US professional who is determined to be financially responsible, and wants to feel like she’s in control of her finances. We spoke to Gabby in Mexico, who manages her money closely and looks for discounts and rewards associated with her preferred retailer. And we met Krzysztof from Poland, who appreciates rewards for his loyalty to certain businesses and uses technology to manage loyalty and payments.

These consumers don’t represent the general public, but rather a global segment of adults who have a relationship with a financial institution. Members of the emerging global segment live rich, varied lives that are as busy and complex as they come.

As we talked to people around the world, we found threads that linked all their stories. All of their expectations revolve around satisfying their needs for convenience. Their online and smart devices play an important role in their shopping and banking as they seek convenience, relevance and simplicity.

The Great Global Transition

To understand how we’ve arrived here today, we need to take a step back and study the broader context in which these industry changes are taking place. The reason that the current moment feels exciting is because we’re all caught up in a series of shifts that are driven by technology. And these shifts are building on one another, upending old relationships and ways of doing business, and in the process, unleashing a lot of creative energies that will continue to transform the payments industry for the foreseeable future.

For the sake of discussion, I’m calling this dynamic the Great Global Transition.

Consumer expectations are continuing to evolve. We’re moving from fragmented processes toward seamless experiences, from transactions to expectations of experiences beyond the transaction, and turning the model from top-down to bottom-up. Consumers are now in control of the conversation.

The transition is happening everywhere. There are different examples and degrees of adoption depending on whether you’re in Germany, Dubai, China or Mexico, but our research shows many similarities and some interesting differences between different regions.

The technological shifts in our industry and the evolving consumer expectations are combining to form a perfect storm of complexity, and we’re all going through it together, worldwide. Whether you’re a bank, a restaurant or a store, large or small, in Poland or Brazil, consumer expectations continue to increase across industries. Consumers expect your mobile bank app to be as easy to use as their favorite online store, and they want to be able to pay for purchases with whatever means is most convenient for them.

When we talk about evolving consumer expectations, what we’re really talking about is an expectation of higher levels of service and a drive toward simplicity. Over the next few days, I’ll dig deeper into these themes and others we uncovered in our research.

Larry Drury is the chief marketing officer at First Data.

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