Interview with Michel-Ange Camhi
Michel-Ange Camhi is in charge of strategy and business development for mobile payments and
our WL Wallet offer. He joined the company in July 1998 at the end of his studies as a systems engineer.
What definition can we give to the Digital Wallet?
We define a Digital Wallet as a secured container for digital identities. It can hold identity data points, such as card numbers, coupons, tickets and tokens, for example, which can be accessed upon user’s authentication. Its goal is to simplify e-transactions, both online and in the physical world, while guarantying their security.
What makes convergence and tokenization two key axes of tomorrow’s payments?
The convergence in question is the one between online and in-store payments. Even though we use the same payment method (ed: the card) today, whether it is online or in physical stores, the experience is different depending on the channel. Tomorrow, and perhaps even today, payment cards will be integrated in our smartphones and we will pay almost the same way, either remotely, online or in physical stores. Consumers will be authenticated via their smartphone, mainly through their banking application. Our solution, WL Wallet, is the tool of this convergence with its integrated strong authentication mechanism, WL Trusted Authentication, and is ideally positioned to meet the mobile payment challenges of our clients.
Tokenization is the substitution of sensitive data, such as bank account number, phone number and card number, for example, by a digital token. It does not really have a direct impact on the customer experience, but it contributes significantly to the security and the streamlining of the mobile payment deployment within a Wallet. Our tokenization offer targets issuers and local schemes that wish to implement this feature on their own, regardless of which card network they use.
How are the consumers impacted by these changes?
Clearly, consumers are already using their smartphones to help and improve their daily lives, and this includes purchases and online payments. In the near future, they will also be able to use them to pay in physical stores thanks, in part, to the NFC technology. They will benefit from a significantly richer service, both interactive and personalized.
What about the impacts on the merchants and the banks?
The impact on merchants is already underway with the deployment of contactless payment terminals, which accept both NFC-enabled payment cards and smartphones. Beyond that, merchants should be ready to accept a wider array of mobile payment solutions. Indeed, no absolute standard has yet emerged in terms of mobile payments.
Banks, on their end, need to equip their customers with suitable mobile payment tools in order to support them in all their purchasing use cases and to avoid being disintermediated. Many new non-banking actors are entering the mobile payment market by offering alternative payment solutions to the ones offered by banks. This lowers banks’ revenues and customers’ knowledge of the banks that hold their accounts.
About NFC and contactless payment, what is your opinion on their adoption rate among consumers in France and Europe? How do you see the evolution of this technology and its adoption in the future?
I would like, first, to point out that France is already relatively advanced in terms of the deployment of NFC-enabled payment cards (ed: over 50% of cardholders have a contactless payment card as of today). Furthermore, card payments have been progressing rapidly (ed: credit card transactions have grown 7-9x in the recent years). However, France is not the most advanced country on this matter. Indeed, contactless payments adoption is even stronger in the UK, Spain and Poland. We also see a strong growth in adoption rates in Eastern European countries, and especially in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, where the contactless deployment is even faster than here.
On one hand, NFC is now a recognized standard that international schemes are supporting for in-store payments. This technology is therefore here to stay. On the other hand, mobiles will offer new opportunities for interactions between merchants and consumers and we can imagine that, in the future, payments could take place before we even go to the store. This is what we already do with McDonald's in France. In this context, the store becomes a place of interactions and services, in addition to being a place of consumption. Finally, mobiles will end up accompanying consumers throughout their buying journeys, from discovery to after-sales services.
What major changes do you foresee for this new payment method (ed: mobile)?
The arrival of wearable connected objects, such as smartwatches, will reorganize the purchase and payment process. The smartphone will remain present, at least as an information and communication device, and, paired with a smartwatch or a connected band, will allow the authentication of the customer in the store and the payment of his purchase.
Regarding the Digital Wallet and the dematerialization of payment cards, what is your opinion on the arrival of Apple & Samsung giants in this market?
It is good news as it confirms that mobile payment is a trending topic with lots of potential. Nevertheless, it is important that these new players, and their solutions, act in a completely transparent manner with both consumers and merchants. Banks have an important role to play as agents of confidence in this value chain and their position must be fully respected by all industry players.
How does our wallet solution answer the issues mentioned before?
Our solution, WL Wallet, is a secure container for digital identities and can store payment cards, as well as e-money, and other types of documents, such as loyalty cards or even identity cards. Our solution manages online payment, whether it is on the Internet or directly in applications, and contactless payment in stores through NFC, with its HCE mode. This solution is independent of the PSP (ed: Payment Service Provider), which means that a merchant, who wishes to integrate our solution, can do so without jeopardizing his existing infrastructure. We can also deliver this solution combined with our own PSP (WL Sips) and acquiring offers. Finally, our solution embarks our strong authentication tool, WL Trusted Authentication, which meets the SecuRePay Forum requirements, at the bank level, and, therefore, reduces the financial risk for online transactions.
Our solution addresses two types of clients:
- On the one hand, banks wishing to provide their customers, and especially mobile customers, with payment methods adapted to the digital evolution.
- On the other hand, larger merchants wishing to seamlessly integrate the act of payment in their buying journey and, also, to identify their customers at different times of their relationship with them.