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Treasury and Payments

Payments in Europe: navigating the complexities and opportunities

Doing business in Europe has always required a level of regional expertise, navigating a multi-currency market with a complex regulatory structure. The recent consolidation of J.P. Morgan’s EU client facing businesses into a single entity mirrors the shift across the region. What will this mean for the payments industry? 

J.P. Morgan, the quintessentially American bank, is now one of the largest banks in Germany.

That’s probably more surprising if you’re reading this from outside Europe, whereas the Firm’s capabilities have been grabbing the spotlight within the region for some time. Recent moves consolidating the bank’s European entities have scaled the business to new heights, and while global reach is an important benefit to many of our customers, local expertise is still key.

Europe is one of the regions witnessing a phenomenal of change in the payments industry, driven by technology advancements and consumer demand.  We are fortunate to be able to leverage J.P. Morgan’s global scale and service, and combine it with the innovation and agility of a fintech - essential for progress in this evolving ecosystem.

The impact of European regulations

In addition, trading in Europe costs a lot of money. Keeping up with regulations is not cheap, and the question for many banks is whether they go it alone - and absorb the costs of implementing ISO 20022, or SEPA, or PSD2 - or do they turn to other providers and offer white label solutions.

In order to survive, many financial institutions need the backbone of a large and complex organization. We in J.P. Morgan are very fortunate that we can combine and package products together, offering individual items or a full suite to clients.

Crucially, for both domestic and international businesses, Europe is much more complex than other continents, mixing languages, payments methods – and even regulations.

The region has also seen an explosion of fintechs in recent years, offering many similar products to a traditional bank. Like many others, we have watched with interest as the volume of these niche start-ups increases exponentially. Many of them are our clients, rather than competitors, but regulation is the common denominator. Regardless of the size or make up of your institution, regulations are the biggest question for all of us.

The good news is that, despite the spread across the continent, there is harmonization. Each country has different regulations, and what you do and where, will depend on that. It’s a navigation, but we always leverage what we learn in doing business in other markets. We are constantly advocating on our clients’ behalf for clear guidance on regulations, which will steer the industry in times of flux and change.

Shifting trends in ecommerce

Another phenomenon is how client requests are the driving force behind the latest trends in ecommerce. This pivoting and co-creation of solutions has changed the market, as what clients are asking for now brings us into a new landscape

Interestingly, a large number of banks that had historically stepped out of some business activities -  which we didn’t do -  are now trying to get back in again. The auto industry is a great example: more recently offering services where they have a direct touchpoint with the consumer, rather than their historic position in only engaging with a dealer. These companies are now in car services, and additional services, where we have direct financial interactions – and now not only selling cars. It’s a trend replicated across all industries, from B2C, but also increasingly B2B.

We are investing significantly in payments, at a global scale, and are hoping for growth effects from our new unit in Frankfurt, including in the areas of securities trading, payment transactions and corporate customer business for medium-sized companies. At the end of the day, what our clients want is one partner and platform, simplified payments, allowing them to focus on their business.

For us as an organization, having the capabilities to enhance our offering across all lines of business is important. At the same time, our position as one of the top 20 banks in Europe is a completely different proposition, allowing us to drive topics in the industry and across regulations.

The shift over the past few years has been seismic, although our localized capabilities remain the same. With roots in the region going back more than 100 years, we have always been a truly European bank, and this legacy underpins our future. We are changing perceptions. We are European. 

Interested to learn more about Europe? See what we revealed at Money20/20 Amsterdam

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The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of J.P. Morgan, its affiliates, or its employees. The information set forth herein has been obtained or derived from sources believed to be reliable. Neither the author nor J.P. Morgan makes any representations or warranties as to the information’s accuracy or completeness. The information contained herein has been provided solely for informational purposes and does not constitute an offer, solicitation, advice or recommendation, to make any investment decisions or purchase any financial instruments, and may not be construed as such.

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