We talked with Abdeslam Alaoui Smaili, CEO of HPS about his insights on the payments industry.
1. HPS present itself at an enabler for innovative payments. How do you see the future of payments and how does HPS work towards this?
In the next years, we will see the expansion of biometrics. This technology opens the door to near- infinite possibilities. Today, we are seeing payments disappear. Tomorrow, we will see payments seamlessly integrated into our day-to-day lives, without us even noticing. We believe that biometrics will truly take the user experience to the next level. Human augmentation is also big trend to watch out for along with Blockchain, but this technology is still in the early stages of development. Blockchain is already the technology behind cryptocurrencies, but it could be applied in other areas such as transactions or data security. Lastly, artificial intelligence is another hot trend, with so many use cases on the horizon.
We strongly believe that all of these innovations, and the ones yet to come, will not only have an impact on the user experience, but will reinforce security, protection and trust within the payments ecosystem. This is what we want for our customers and what we are working on creating.
2. The PowerCARD software is currently working across 5 different continents and 90 different countries. How do you anticipate the different payment situations and needs across different regions?
It is both a challenge and an opportunity that can be managed at different levels. First, thanks to our 400+ users in 90+ countries, we are able to consolidate in one single version of the software all specific developments we have been developing around the world. The beauty of “globalisation” is that one innovation for one country may become an innovation for another country. This is the first level of anticipating different payment situations.
Secondly, regulation is also playing an important role since regulation is usually local/regional before becoming global.
Finally, global players are also influencing all regions but may start by only one region. If we take the example of ApplePay: it started in US, then developed in a few countries but still not available in all countries. If you are one of the first providers of this solution, then you have the opportunity to bring something new to many other markets. So clearly, for us, the opportunity is really to be exposed worldwide and thanks to our consolidation into one single piece of software we are able to serve all our other customers.
3. What geographies are you currently mostly focussing on?
We focus on all geographies! Our three main and historical offices are in Morocco, France and UAE. They support the business for Africa, Europe and Middle East. Two years ago, we opened an office in Singapore to strengthen our market share in Asia. This year we are opening an office in the US to do the same for Northern America.
4. Recently Société Générale selected HPS to develop their payment operations in Africa. What will this entail and how much of an impact can we expect for that region?
HPS offers its PowerCARD software suite in a SAAS model covering the entire payment value chain and all international and domestic schemes to enable Société Générale to launch electronic payment products on the market quickly and efficiently, reduce transaction costs and mitigate operating risks. By migrating to HPS’ technology, Société Générale will have a platform allowing payments innovation to be accelerated and new products to be brought to market easily. This is essential in an era where customers are demanding quick, easy, digital and uninterrupted payments processing. These expectations are particularly noticeable in Africa.
Africa is a key market in Société Générale’s growth strategy. Operating in 19 African countries, the bank has a unique position in the region, which allows it to offer its clients the expertise and know-how of an international bank and the proximity of a local bank. In Africa, the Group supports local economies and serves 4.1 million customers, including 150,000 businesses. The project will initially focus on the migration of SociétéGénérale’s electronic payment operations in Africa to HPS Platform for Cards Issuing, PoS, ATM and Acquiring activities.
5. Open Banking has been the buzz word for quite a while now. How do you see the discussion between legislation versus openness, innovation and adoption of various payments methods and situations?
PSD2 has been forcing the bank in Europe to “open” their systems to third parties. This has been promoting competition and innovation by having new players entering into the market, some players coming up with new ideas or new concepts. Generally, we can also notice that whenever a new regulation is happening in one region it is then spread across the other regions in the following months/years. So, there is no doubt that “Open Banking” will become global, by regulation, quite soon. This being said, the Open Banking concept has also been pushed on the market because of the FinTechs that were looking to partner with Banks rather than building their own systems.
6. What are the developments we can expect from HPS to happen next?
HPS keeps evolving and expanding. We recently opened in South Africa and will be announcing another office shortly in the US. As we grow rapidly, we remain close to our fundamental values of offering innovative solutions and quality services to our clients. We do this by investing a significant amount of our revenue in R&D. For over 20 years, we have constantly evolved PowerCARD. Our ability to listen and understand the ever- evolving market allows us create payment innovations rapidly (tokenization, wallet, instant payments, omni-channel, Open Payment Platform etc.)
To strengthen this commitment, we have launched the HPS Academy to ensure that our collaborators and customers are offered the best training possible on our products and solutions. The industry is constantly evolving, and so are we. We are shaping the future, together with our customers and partners to achieve what we do best: enabling innovative payments.
About Abdeslam Alaoui Smaili
Abdeslam Alaoui Smaili is the CEO of HPS and has overall responsibility for all of HPS’ activities. With more than 25 years of experience in the IT industry, Abdeslam has co-founded two IT services companies before becoming one of the founding members of HPS back in 1995. Abdeslam has subsequently overseen HPS’ continued development and expansion, and has been involved in countless implementations of payment systems in countless countries.
Over the years Abdeslam has helped clients design & launch new & innovative payment instruments in complex & challenging markets and implement challenging transformation programs across multiple countries, currencies and languages, including domestic and regional payment schemes. Abdeslam holds a degree in Engineering from the University of Toulouse.
HPS is a multinational company and a leading provider of payment solutions for issuers, acquirers, card processors, independent sales organisations (ISOs), retailers, mobile network operators (MNOs), and national & regional switches around the world.
PowerCARD is HPS comprehensive suite of solutions that covers the entire payment value chain by enabling innovative payments through its open platform that allows the processing of any transaction coming from any channel initiated by any means-of-payment. PowerCARD is used by more than 400 institutions in over 90 countries. HPS is listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange since 2006 and has offices located in major business centres (Africa, Europe, Asia, Middle-East and America).