On CBDCs, influencer transactions, marketplace payouts, and more: 5 questions about payments with Standard Chartered’s Anand Nataranjan

  • As the economy evolves, so do does the payment industry and the firms supporting new flows and rails.
  • We recently sat down with Standard Chartered's Anand Natarajan to discuss all kinds of payments trends.

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On CBDCs, influencer transactions, marketplace payouts, and more: 5 questions about payments with Standard Chartered’s Anand Nataranjan

Standard Chartered is already supporting its clients across various payments with its own extensive footprint in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. We recently spoke on our podcast with Anand Natarajan, who covers the technology, media, and fintech segments for the firm’s treasury services.

In a conversation that began in Las Vegas in 2022 and continued into the beginning of 2023, Anand shares his view on a wide range of topics including evolving merchant ecommerce experiences, social commerce, gaming payments, CBDCs and more. 

What are you seeing from clients that are e-commerce marketplaces?

Anand Natarajan: If you look at some of the larger ecommerce players, there's a big focus on diversifying their merchant base across Asia and the Middle East Asia. Historically, these marketplaces sourced merchants or products from one or two countries. Now, given what we saw during COVID where worldwide things were shut down in many places, they realized that there was a significant concentration risk. 

So what this diversifying merchant base now means is that there are more requirements that these marketplaces have to build to pay out to merchants across different complicated footprints, like Vietnam, Pakistan, and Bangladesh – all of these have gained a little bit more prominence in terms of sourcing merchants.

Do you service influencers?

Social commerce is basically the creator/influencer economy. There are so many Youtubers Instagramers, people who make content for the social platforms that are based in Asia or in the Middle East. All of these people have access to mobile phones, access to data, and are generating content. Usually, this means that they now need to get paid in these various currencies, as well. So solving for the ability to make these frequent small value payouts also becomes quite important.

What trends are you seeing with SMB payments?

In the SMB segment, we're starting to notice that they are becoming a lot smarter about currency risk management. So to your earlier point, as they start to sell into these various countries, the idea that they can now start receiving accounts, payments and multiple currencies means that they now have to think about how to price their goods. How they will ensure that they're not going to have a shortfall, whenever a product is being sold in a different currency.

How important is scale to your service offering?

One of the big focus areas for us when we were launching, or sort of growing our payment space, was the ability to scale up. I think the rideshare companies are a great example – if you think of a rideshare company, there are like thousands of trips happening at any given point in time. All these drivers need to get paid. And historically, these drivers got paid once or twice a month. But that is changing. A lot of these rideshare companies are looking to pay their drivers more instantly. What this means is the banks that support these companies have to be able to scale up their payment processing systems to be able to support thousands of transactions per second, whereas historically that was not necessarily a top of mind requirement for us.

Are you moving more deeply into payments as a service?

One of the more recent announcements that we did was something around payouts as a service. The idea behind that is the ability to automate some of the steps that treasury and payments teams do in terms of generating a payment file, segregating funds based on algorithms or rules that they may have in mind already. If the rules and algorithms around that are fairly consistent, it is fairly easy to automate the entire process using pre building rules and guidelines at the bank.

So we rolled this out recently, not as a standalone product, but because we were able to solve this for a fintech company in Asia, making payments out into multiple markets, they realized that they could also outsource a lot of the payment operations stuff into this automated service. Finding those pilot clients for some of these is a big component of how we try to scale the business as well.

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