Most regulations are designed to restrain an activity, usually in the name of safety and soundness. That makes the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) unusual, since it aims to break barriers that linger from an older view of technology.
"In Europe, the most amazing development is actually regulation — yes, I know, regulation!" said Andrea Dunlop, CEO of acquiring and card solutions for Paysafe Group in London and one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments for 2018. PSD2, she said, is "all about creating more open access to accounts."
Influencing a proactive response to new market conditions matches Dunlop's experience well.
She has more than two decades of experience in the payments industry following a stint in military service. At Paysafe, Dunlop competes in an increasingly digital and borderless technology environment. Dunlop has advocated for help from the British government for fintechs as the U.K. separates from the EU. She has also stressed the importance of mobile payments for traditionally manual businesses such as travel companies.
Before Paysafe, Dunlop held a diverse range of financial services roles. She operated her own consultancy, and while on staff at Visa helped drive the card brand's Olympic NFC program and the Visa Europe Mobile Gateway Solution.
While at Visa, she was particularly inspired by the work of Mary Carol Harris, the head of the Visa Olympic 2012 Innovation program, part of Visa's longtime use of the Olympics as a major platform to test its new payment technology.
"[Harris] visualized the opportunity for a new mobile payment platform working with Samsung, another Olympic partner," Dunlop said. "She had a clear vision for how we might bring mobile payments to a high-impact audience of consumers, athletes, dignitaries and businesses. It was an opportunity for me to lead on the delivery of this vision. It was a great working partnership, and the vision was delivered perfectly on time."
PSD2, which went into effect in January, should make it easier for technology startups and banks to communicate and move information back and forth. It requires banks to make data available to third parties through open technology development tools, often referred to as "open banking."
This, in theory, makes it easier for all parties to provide a smoother user experience for transactions, thus encouraging new omnichannel products.
"Starting now, there’s a new wave of companies that are working to deliver payment initiation services; there are a couple already like Trustly in Sweden, but now banks in Europe are forced to have open APIs into accounts," said Dunlop. "Sorry North America, but Europe is powering ahead with payments innovation, balanced with the ever-needed stability and trust mechanisms that are critical."
Banks have not been overly enthusiastic about PSD2, since it requires more change on their part. But the regulation's expected to give banks a chance to deepen services for consumers, and thus enhance relationships.
As a result, Dunlop hopes the tepid start for banks in the new environment will change as financial institutions see the value of open data sharing.
"Only Lloyds Bank [has] implemented open banking on time as part of the new PSD2, and this is disappointing as PSD2 represents one of the most innovative opportunities for better financial services in the U.K. and Europe," Dunlop said.
READ MORE: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2018