The Future has Begun: Digital Payments in the Balkans

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[Read more session reports and live updates from the 2nd Western Balkan Digital Summit]

The presenter, Ms Jelena Ristić (Country Manager at Mastercard, Serbia) started by mentioning that the main research focus of Mastercard is the influence of new technologies on payments. What we see as a common point for many financial players in the region is to be closer to the European Union. Innovations are the moving energy of society.

Mastercard wants to push new technologies, because research has shown that their usage diminishes general poverty and includes more people in society. It is incredible how digital usage has grown over years. By the end of the year, 200 000 transactions will be done every minute worldwide.

The primary focus of Mastercard is the quality of basic user experience. One of the goals is to have a system which equals to one transaction - one click. The choice of the payment instrument is left to the user/customer. In the Western Balkans region, there is a growth of electronic payments, small and large transactions, as well as less cash being taken from ATMs. According to a Mastercard research, two-thirds of people answered they buy every day on the Internet.

Contactless Mastercard is now a possibility for paying transportation in Belgrade, placing it among the 100 smart cities. The e-government system has also been successfully applied, to facilitate citizen needs for public administrative services. Contactless payments are now a standard in all Western Balkans societies. In 2008, the first contactless cards were included, and there has been a steady growth of usage ever since. Not surprisingly, the next step in payments is mobile phone payments. The presenter also predicted that in the future we will probably verify transactions biometrically, by facial recognition, retina scan, or fingerprints.

She concluded to say that the vision of Mastercard is a cashless society. However, the only way this will happen is if the developments are based on the needs of end consumers.

By Darija Medić

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