Article

22.05.2018

The (near) future of payments up close

Evolve or disappear: players in the payment sector have to predict the future in order to adapt to a constantly changing market. The future is bright for those who are up to the challenge. That was the conclusion of a study carried out by Accenture.

Generation Z will have the power

According to Accenture, young people born after 1995 will have a great influence over changes to payment methods.These future adults, who were brought up digitally and raised "by" Google and Facebook, want everything straight away and easily. Currently, 69% of them already use banking apps (in comparison with 17% of baby boomers). More than ever, payments will have to meet their ultra-connected needs.

The rush towards "customer experience"

Already under the influence of new generations, the payment universe will no longer be able to limit itself to transactions. Consumers want more, including more services (in a wider sense) throughout their transactions. Companies that are capable of offering a "complete journey" to their customers will hold their attention and gain a real competitive advantage.

Mobile payments take off

Apps and open banking will continue to necessitate mobile payment as a rule, but only so long as the sector's players are able to meet the expectations of their consumers. How will they get there? The race for a unique app that can group all the information and banking transactions in one place is well and truly on. The first company to capture this market will have a great head-start.

A revolution in benefits

Rewards and benefits linked to payment cards now seem outdated and unsuited. In fact, American customers say that they are ready (48%) to change banks just to take advantage of offers that are better, more accessible (online) and fit in with their lifestyles. What will the rewards of the future be like? They will be based on customer experience!

Stronger together

In the face of the challenges that await them, the players in the sector will have to rely more than ever on the strength of their networks. This is an indispensable condition for remaining agile, flexible, connected and effective enough to respond to changes in the market, without increasing investment or the risks.

Fintechs and banks: an engagement announced

In the same vein (regarding increasing collaboration), Accenture points out that banks and fintech start-ups will inevitably work more closely together (and that they complement one another). While the former will bring to the table their brand's legitimacy, expertise and market size, the latter will provide agility and technological innovation. The fruits of this union will produce innovation in payments.

The power of technology

Will coding see off credit and debit cards? This is one of the predictions of the study. For example, thanks to advances in computing, account numbers will be replaced by unique temporary codes. The widely-used token is just a taster of what is to come before a revolutionary surge of several technologies hits payment methods (biometrics, blockchain, augmented reality, etc.).

Payments anywhere

The relationships between technology and transactions are also going to change, in particular through the increasing number of payment terminals and methods. The digital revolution will therefore affect the way in which payments are accepted, but also the stakeholders in these transactions. This will see the emergence of a new kind of bilateral relationship, where anyone can become a seller.

The constant battle against fraud

As the study points out, the technological methods used for fraud are also evolving at top speed. The stakeholders in the payment sector will therefore have to be extremely innovative in order to fight the fraudsters.

Redesigning infrastructure

Accenture's message is clear: traditional companies will not survive without completely overhauling and modernising their current payment infrastructure. What should replace them? Systems that are flexible, open and agile.

(Source: Accenture

Article

07.12.2020

Scale-up concludes mega contract in the midst of the coronavirus crisis

The Antwerp-based scale-up IPEE transforms ordinary toilets into innovative products. BNP Paribas Fortis is more than just the financial partner. IPEE have already come into contact with the right people via the bank’s network several times.

“The traditional urinal has no brain. The infrared eye simply detects that someone is standing in front of the urinal. The result? A lot of wasted water and misery”, says Bart Geraets, who founded IPEE in 2012 together with Jan Schoeters.

The scale-up devised new measuring technology that makes it possible to detect through the ceramic of a urinal when someone is urinating or when the urinal is blocked. With this innovative technology, the scale-up designed urinals that use half as much water and toilets that can be operated without touching them.

Sleek design

“IPEE is an atypical scale-up that innovates in a sector where little has changed in the past few decades”, says Conchita Vercauteren, relationship manager at the BNP Paribas Fortis Innovation Hub.

Jan Schoeters: “At first we mainly focused on durability. But we soon felt that with non-residential applications, the potential water saving is subordinate to the operational aspect. We had to be able to offer added value for each stakeholder in the purchasing process.”

We opted for sleek designs to appeal to architects and end users. The simple installation attracts fitters and maintenance people see the advantages of the sleek design - that is easy to clean - and toilets that do not overflow.

New investors

Until 2015, Schoeters and Geraets, along with Victor Claes, an expert in measuring methods and originator of the IPEE technology, put their energy into product development and market research. The financing came mainly from money that they collected in their network of friends, fools and family.

They had to go elsewhere to obtain the funds for production and marketing. Geraets: “We had a product, but it wasn’t ready to sell. To take that step, we needed investors.”

Looking for new investors was a challenge. Schoeters: “We aren’t software developers and we don’t work in a sexy sector. So we miss out with a large target group of investors.”

The young scale-up attracted the attention of Ronald Kerckhaert, who had sold his successful company, Sax Sanitair, at the end of 2015. “He pushed us to think big, more than we dared ourselves. And he never headed for an exit. His express goal was to put our product on the world market”, says Schoeters.

Growth path

IPEE has achieved impressive growth since then. The product range was expanded and new sectors were broached: educational institutes, office buildings and hospitals. The technology is now used by Kinepolis, Texaco, Schiphol and Changi Airport (Singapore).

“We very soon turned to Asia, because new technology is embraced more quickly there”, Geraets explains. The IPEE technology is distributed in Singapore - where the scale-up has its own sales office - China, Thailand and Vietnam, among other places. About half the turnover comes from abroad, although the coronavirus crisis will leave its mark this year.

Supporter

“My biggest headache is achieving healthy growth”, says Bart Geraets. One advantage for IPEE is that in coronavirus times, hygiene stands high on the agenda. The scale-up's  touchless toilet facilities meet that demand.

At the same time, the shortage of water and the need to use water sparingly is very topical. Geraets: “We notice that in these strange times we are gaining an even bigger foothold. In the midst of the coronavirus crisis we concluded a contract with the world’s biggest manufacture of toilet facilities. Now it’s a matter of further professionalising our business, the personnel policy and the marketing.”

The company’s main bank is an important partner here. Schoeters: “It is more than just a financial organisation. We have already come into contact with the right people via the bank’s network several times. Our bank feels more like a supporter that is also putting its weight behind our story.”

Article

01.06.2020

The art of negotiating payment terms with suppliers

Cash management is an SME's frontline weapon, and payment terms are a key means of keeping it under control – providing companies proactively open negotiations with their suppliers. But this solution remains underutilised by entrepreneurs

Cash flow difficulties are the number one cause of company bankruptcy in Belgium. Business owners face a constant battle to stay in control and maintain the balance of their inflows and outflows. Negotiating payment terms is one of the levers that can be employed: shortening them for customers while extending them for suppliers. In Belgium, the statutory deadline between companies is 30 days. Yet the reality can be different, since either trading partner may deviate from the rule. Where one of the parties is in a dominant position, the other is often obliged to accept the conditions it imposes... meaning its payment term becomes longer. Everything is negotiable, however, even with "big" suppliers, as long as you formalise the situation and ensure you protect your business relationship.

Who is your supplier?

They say information is power, and there is some truth in this. Indeed, the more you know about your "opponent", the more you will be able to turn the tables. How are the company's finances, and what is its cash position? Is it experiencing difficulties? Where is it placed on the market, particularly in relation to its competitors? What is your dependency ratio in relation to this partner? How does it make payments, and what is its purchase history? The answers to these questions will allow you to take up better positions in the negotiations, and find the best angle to launch an attack that catches the other side by surprise. Specialised websites, data banks, word of mouth (the competition): all means are justified in order to find out more!

What do you want to gain?

And a resulting question: what are you willing to put on the table to achieve your objective? In other words, you need to be properly prepared and establish a strategy regarding what you are willing to concede (and how much this will cost you) and what you absolutely want to gain in return. Remember that the other party has presumably not requested anything, and potentially has little to gain. Therefore, you cannot arrive empty-handed. Are you willing to order larger volumes in order to extend your payment terms? Can you envisage a long-term contractual commitment? Could you contemplate paying more in return for spreading your debits further? Imagine you are playing poker: clearly, you should keep your cards close to your chest. Wait for the right time to show your negotiating partner that you are prepared to make concessions.

How can you negotiate successfully?

The art of negotiating is a difficult skill. However well prepared you are, keep the following principles in mind:

  • Even if you have brought a proposal to the table, listen to the other side and pay attention to detail so that you can react quickly.
  • Do not be frightened of bearing your teeth a little, even if you are concerned about spoiling the business relationship with your supplier. Stand your ground and mention what the competition can offer you, for example.
  • You must control how you communicate, so that you avoid giving the impression that you have cash management problems. Emphasise that payment delays do not help anyone, and that it would be better to agree on a reasonable and sustainable schedule.
  • If your business relationship is established, mention your positive partnership and your desire to see this continue.
  • During discussions, regularly refer to how far you have come and your shared progress to date. This positive tone will be well received.
  • If the negotiations stall, try to resolve the difficulty by pulling out a trump card, for example (i.e. a concession).
  • Remember: a good agreement is balanced, and leaves neither party feeling wronged. So do not be too greedy: the outcome must be worthwhile.
  • Are you happy with the situation? Move to finalise the deal, either by accepting what is on offer or by finally opting for a fair compromise.
Article

09.10.2018

How to prevent a stroke with the help of your smartphone

Fibricheck is a medical application that anticipates strokes using just a smartphone. This kind of innovation focused on human well-being is at the heart of BNP Paribas Fortis’s sustainability strategy.

Digitalisation is affecting even medicine. Convinced that the digital world and the traditional medical world must work together, Fibricheck has developed an application to anticipate strokes. This ethos makes human interests a core concern.

By supporting this Belgian company, BNP Paribas Fortis wants to do its bit to build a more sustainable world and help new and inspiring ideas to emerge.

A diagnosis using your smartphone

Smartphones are becoming increasingly important in our everyday lives. We use them to communicate, cook and read... so why not for medical diagnosis? With Fibricheck, the user can now check their heartbeat, to anticipate the risks of a stroke. The Fibricheck application focuses on the most common kind of heart arrhythmia: atrial fibrillation, which is responsible for 20% of strokes.

How does it work?

Above all, it is important to know that Fibricheck is available only by medical prescription. Once you have installed it, you just need to put your finger on your smartphone camera for 60 seconds, for all the required data to be recorded. The algorithms will do the rest, to provide an instant result. If any anomalies are detected, the results will be analysed by a Fibricheck doctor and made available to your doctor. Technology is used to serve human interests.

An irregular heartbeat is not always easy to detect. The advantage of Fibricheck is that it does not need to be used in a specific place (e.g. at the doctor's surgery), or during a set period. It allows multiple measurements to be taken, to provide an overview of your heartbeat.

Checks in companies

The health of your employees is crucial. Heart arrhythmias do not always have clear, visible symptoms. Consequently, detection plays a crucial role in preventing the greatest risks. This is why Fibricheck is offering to check your employees.

For more information, consult the Fibricheck website.

Article

25.07.2018

Creative uses for construction waste

Most construction waste is recycled in one way or another. However, sometimes direct reuse is possible and valuable heritage can be given a second life.

Construction and demolition waste accounts for 20% of our total waste. Over 90% is reused. Sometimes via high-quality recycling, and sometimes via 'downcycling'. In the latter case, the rubble is ground up and used as granular material for road foundations. Some companies have found unique ways of taking demolition waste and fully or partially reusing it, rather than recycling it.

Schoenen Torfs are proud of 'Ten Afval'. It's a recycling project that first and foremost benefits their employees. When the company renovates one of its seventy shops, the employees are free to dismantle and empty the interior themselves. Furniture, flooring, lighting, decorations: employees can take all of it home with them.

"As a result of 'Ten Afval', the materials that are removed from the waste stream are given a second life," explains manager Wouter Torfs in Trends magazine. "It's a real win-win situation: it's better for the environment, we don't need to hire a contractor or pay landfill costs, and it keeps our employees happy."

The golden ceiling

Rotor Deconstruction has made reusing old construction materials in new projects its core business. For each demolition, this waste processing company assesses which materials are valuable enough to finance the dismantling. An excellent example of this process is the dismantling of the BNP Paribas Fortis building in Ravenstein. The building dated from 1971. The counters, strongroom, lifts and executive offices of the former Generale Bank were designed by the famous Belgian interior architect and furniture designer, Jules Wabbes.

The old 'golden ceiling' that Wabbes designed - false ceilings made from aluminium coated in gold-coloured lacquer - was repurposed in many different ways. Plusofficearchitects reused parts of the ceiling in the new auditorium of the municipal library in Sint-Pieters-Woluwe. Another piece of the golden ceiling is now hanging in Emilie Pharmacy in Schaarbeek, which architect Nathalie De Leeuw renovated for pharmacist Saïd Bounouch. The architect suggested using as many reclaimed materials as possible and went with Bounouch to browse the Rotor showroom. The gold-lacquered aluminium grille is now the focal point of the pharmacy. In the entrance, a piece of the bank's old granite floor and a few panels with photo prints by interior architect and designer Christophe Gevers were reclaimed. This gave these culturally valuable pieces of Brussels' history a new place and function in the city. Rotor Deconstruction was awarded the OVAM Ecodesign Award PRO for this project. 

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