A conversation with Alexander Peh on the future of Payments & Merchant Acquiring

A conversation with Alexander Peh on the future of Payments & Merchant Acquiring
Image courtesy – RBC

In an interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Alexander Peh, Vice President and Head of Merchant Payment Services at RBC, shared insights on trends in the payments industry for 2024, emphasizing the importance of embedded payment solutions that allow customers to complete transactions without leaving a merchant’s website. This trend, he explained, can enhance customer experiences and boost sales. Alexander highlighted the need for omni-channel payment acceptance to help businesses reach new customers by operating across multiple platforms. He also outlined how RBC’s solutions, like RBC PayEdge for automating supplier payments and RBC Insight Edge for providing real-time business insights, support small and medium-sized businesses in achieving their growth objectives while ensuring secure and efficient payment processes.

Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, educated in Melbourne, Australia and with experience in Africa, South-East Asia, Europe and North America, Alex currently serves as the Vice President, Head of Merchant Payment Services at The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), based in Toronto. His mandate focuses on growing RBC’s Merchant Services Business and strengthening RBC’s partnership with Moneris. He joined RBC 7 years ago to lead their Tech + Ops Innovation Group focused on an array of emerging technology including BlockChain, Voice, Digital Identity and CyberSecurity.

Prior to joining RBC, he had roles leading Market Development & Mobile for PayPal and Braintree Canada and Channel & Mobile Partnership’s for PayPal Europe.

An active startup advisor & mentor and FinTech investor, he currently is the President and Chair of The Board of Ascend Canada, Board Member of Ascend Global Leaders and has sat on a range of Global Advisory Boards including TechToronto, Singularity University Canada, Copenhagen FinTech, the Mars Discovery District, the BC Tech Association and Dash40 Ventures.

Can you share your insights on 2024 trends in the payments industry? How will these trends influence small and medium business owners’ merchant services?

With the pace digital payments are being adopted, merchants and card issuers are prioritizing embedded payment solutions that allow customers to complete their transactions without leaving the merchant’s website. These solutions enhance the payment experience for their customers, can streamline transactions and potentially increase sales.

I’m also seeing more businesses start to work with payment partners who can offer omni-channel payment acceptance and seamless integration across various channels. These features are particularly relevant for businesses that only operate in one channel (either in-store or online) thanks to the potential they offer to expand reach to new clients.

Merchants are also looking for opportunities to work with partners who can offer a holistic, end-to-end experience. RBC offers a range of products to help make running a business more seamless through programs like RBC PayEdge, an accounts payable platform that automates payments to suppliers by integrating with merchants’ accounting systems, RBC Insight Edge, a dashboard that offers real-time data-driven insights to help merchants personalize their marketing efforts and Avion Rewards, RBC’s loyalty program that merchants can partner with to create customized loyalty offerings and ensure their goals are met – whether increasing basket size, acquiring more clients or generating repeat business.

What are the top merchant pain points you’ve noticed in your time working in Merchant Payment Services at RBC?

Consistent and reliable access to capital is critical for a merchant to run their business uninterrupted but can sometimes be a challenge. Newer merchants often face the challenge of managing high transaction fees, which affect their profit margins. Current trends show that many are opting for flat-rate pricing, which offers greater cost-certainty around processing fees per transaction. Moneris has recently introduced a flat-rate option for their customers, which is ideal for those starting a new business.

Finally, the advancements in generative AI have made business owners more vulnerable to chargebacks and fraud. While managing fraud risk often becomes a priority after fraud or a cyber incident, it’s important to partner with PCI compliant payment partners and invest in secure systems.

Image courtesy – Canva

What’s RBC and Moneris’ approach to helping clients access both payments and business solutions?

RBC’s goal is to provide merchants with integrated end-to-end solutions. We want them to focus on what matters the most – growing their business.

We’re launching a few exciting initiatives in the coming months – for example, businesses will be able to sign-up for their banking needs with RBC and make their payment arrangements with Moneris at the same time.

Can you provide an example of a successful strategy you’ve implemented to help small and medium businesses optimize their payment processes and increase overall satisfaction with their merchant services?

We recently launched Faster Access to Funds, which improves cash flow and productivity for RBC business clients that also use Moneris. Businesses are now able to get their payments next day, every day, seven days a week at no extra cost, helping to solve the cash flow pain point.

Image courtesy – Canva

What advice have you’ve received that would help small and medium business owners?

In this constantly evolving digital landscape, it’s important merchants take a step back to re-evaluate the relationship with their clients to understand their wants and needs. Client expectations will evolve as new technologies emerge, and merchants should be prepared to shift how they do business. I believe that this technology disruption is a competitive advantage and that some of the most successful SMEs are the ones that adopt and embrace new AI technologies.

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