Money 20/20: Airlines ‘need payment orchestration’, says Barclaycard Payments chief exec

The airline industry needs to roll out payment orchestration layers, the chief executive of Barclaycard Payments has said.

Payment orchestration, which is seeing e-commerce platforms building their own engines to take control over the payments stack, is a method designed to simplify front and bank end integration.

The comments, made during a panel discussion at Money 20/20, come amidst turmoil in the aviation sector, with airlines impacted by technical issues and staff shortages, leading to flight cancellations and holidaymakers stranded at airports.

Rob Cameron said that achieving digital consistency and having an ecosystem for all the different touchpoints of an airline would be a big driver for implementing orchestration layers in the sector.

This would include direct channels to consumers, as well as other entities, he said. He referred to airlines looking to cross sell across areas such as car rental, orchestrated on the back end with virtual cards.

The right level of consistency would benefit airlines, he explained, but he warned that rolling out payment orchestration layers can sometimes lead to increased testing and can make organisations less agile - referring to a telecommunications company that had to remove an orchestration layer for this reason.

Why implement payments orchestration?

Joanne Dewar, chief executive of Global Processing Services, said that every bank is faced with a “spaghetti of point-to-point integrations” and companies are “really struggling” to unpick these strands to get next generation technology to add to functionality in the organisation.

With an orchestration layer, she said, the “spaghetti is kept in a straight line”, and organisations have absolute control to isolate or increase different providers.

Adil Rehman, head of transaction banking product EMEA at Goldman Sachs, said that he thinks there will be more and more companies getting on board with payment orchestration.

“Growth in this area shouldn’t be a surprise,” he said. “The value is clear.”

But he warned that utility comes from having comprehensive access, so if there are lots of orchestration layers there will be a scaling issue.

Johan Strand, chief executive of FinTech Zimpler, said that orchestration layers are necessary because of how the payments landscape has changed in recent years.

In the past it was only important to understand how to pay, he explained. Now we’re solving how, where, when, and for who, said Strand.

“The need for orchestration layers is obviously there,” he said. “But merchants must know what element is most important to solve.”

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