Think about the last time you successfully bought something online. Chances are you’ll be happily unaware of the sophisticated digital orchestration that occurred behind the scenes to execute that transaction.
That’s how it ought to be.
In an age when online commerce is routine business for consumers, the complex computerised machinery that sits behind the few simple clicks you make to pay for a product — right down to when a parcel arrives at your door or is collected from an Australia Post locker — shouldn’t bear a second thought.
For consumers, there’s now a basic expectation: minimum fuss, maximum convenience and your purchase promptly in your hands.AlphaCommerceHub underscores Australia Post’s wider corporate commitment to inclusive innovation…
Yet put yourself in the shoes of a start-up, new online store, professional service or a rapidly transforming business and the huge and often disparate array of payment acceptance and processing requirements can quickly become confusing and costly.
Throw transaction security obligations, regulatory requirements and privacy laws into the mix and the choices soon become daunting, especially once critical judgements about trust and integrity come into play.
The good news is those choices are about to become a lot safer and user friendly.
Fintech for all
The good news for business, consumers and government alike is that a new generation of integrated services is now hitting the market, offering all sides of the growing digital economy innovation, choice and assurance.
What’s perhaps less known is that one of the most significant plays in Australia’s promising fintech space has been firmly backed by Australia Post, one of the nation’s most trusted enterprises which has for more than a century been providing consumers, government and businesses with rock solid payment and transaction services.
Earlier this month Australia Post quietly launched one of Australia’s most promising Fintech and digital payments platforms, AlphaCommerceHub, a 50% joint venture with award winning international platform Alpha Fintech.
Now, as the Australian economy and ‘the way we pay’ transforms, it’s a platform that’s splendidly simple for both customers and merchants to use, yet traverses and connects a complex myriad of service options ranging from payments, analytics, loyalty, identity, security and fraud mitigation.
It’s also part of Australia Post’s ongoing commitment to helping to build the architectural framework for Australia’s digital economy so that the benefits can be more widely realised and shared.
Simplicity at the core
AlphaCommerceHub works like this.
As natural demand for innovative e-commerce solutions grows from an increasing base of users and developers, AlphaCommerceHub tests and vets new solutions, subsequently giving its customers access to a trusted and secure innovation ecosystem of a significant list of third party and customised solutions.
Importantly, it’s a flexible, scalable and interchangeable marketplace of trusted solutions that can be assembled in a modular plug-and-play manner.
The hub or ‘trusted mart’ model also means that customers can switch or swap between competing providers in the AlphaCommerceHub without losing their data — and that of their customers — as they move between vendors.
This includes government too.
This built-in continuity addresses a major friction point for businesses as they start to grow and need to scale by eliminating vendor lock-in and legacy dependence points.
Secure from the start
Compliance with crucial payment industry security requirements is also baked into AlphaCommerceHub’s processing services and can be dialled-up or down and tailored to a customer’s (merchant) risk and fraud mitigation requirements.
In terms of acquiring payments, the options go well beyond Australia and established payment card and bank schemes and include the rapidly growing range of alternative payment platforms that have taken hold across Asia and non-western economies.The need for a highly trusted hub that bridges personal, business and government interactions has arguably never been greater.
This means a bespoke boot maker in Bendigo, craft whiskey distiller in Tasmania or software developer in Sydney all get the opportunity to market to the rest of the world with a minimum of overhead in terms of administration and integration.
That’s important because no matter how good your product, if you can’t transact securely efficiently online today you’ll only ever get a fraction of the sales you could.
The strong vendor management capability AlphaCommerceHub provides also means businesses can be spared the expensive burden of integrating and individually managing numerous third party providers across multiple infrastructure instances, with multiple user interfaces.
Payments (traditional, alternative and mobile), fraud, risk, logistics, identity and reporting can all be monitored from via a single dashboard.
At a broader level AlphaCommerceHub underscores Australia Post’s wider corporate commitment to inclusive innovation and empowering businesses and the community to take advantage of change and digital transformation rather than being left stranded by it.
Making the cyber to physical connection
There’s a lot more to delivering Australia’s world-class products across the globe than just processing payments.
Businesses, both here and abroad, need certainty that what they sell will be delivered in a timely and reliable manner.
From click-to-collect, or delivery door-to-door, Australia Post has been leading both local and global eCommerce through services provided by StarTrack that empower businesses to connect and fulfil orders to deliveries across international boundaries.
While logistics and delivery has always been a mainstay of Australia Post, the integration of Fintech and digital eCommerce products makes for a solution where the wider benefit is much greater than the sum of its parts.
While it’s certainly no secret that Australia Post has continually modernised and turbocharged its logistics capability – including through its subsidiary StarTrack — to be a mainstay of local eCommerce and the big jump in demand for parcel delivery, there are also innovations that reflect modern lifestyles.
The widespread deployment of Australia Post’s secure parcel lockers at locations like metropolitan train stations and transport hubs doesn’t just give consumers flexibility in collection times and places, it harnesses smart and simple solutions like integrating mobile phones into the customer verification mix.
This allows for the most efficient use of resources when and as they are required saving time, effort and carbon.
On the delivery side, Australia Post has also led by example on sustainability by having made substantial ongoing investments in embedding electric and hybrid vehicles into its fleet, ranging from bikes to vans.
In it for the long haul
While ground breaking offerings like AlphaCommerceHub now provide a substantive opportunity for Australia’s ongoing prosperity and digital economy, it’s important to recognise they didn’t just happen overnight.
Having connected customers for more than 200 years, Australia Post’s evolution has been a journey of persistent transformation that rises to the challenges and opportunities of technological change but also recognises wider social and economic aspirations for the greater good.
Stagecoach to airmail or mailbox to digital identity, Australia Post’s spirit of innovation has always been there.
This has obviously necessitated a flexible and responsive business model, but it’s one that’s consciously retained a corporate culture of diversity and inclusion at its core, not merely as a bullet point in an annual report.
This culture of inclusivity and accessibility has also extended to Australia Post sharing its transformative experience and services across government and enterprise to help both public and private organisations digitise their own offerings and support their customers’ changing preferences.
Today Australia Post provides services on behalf of more than 750 businesses and government entities, ranging from identity services and customer on-boarding to transactions and retail services.
What’s sometimes less appreciated is that many of these often occur seamlessly as ‘white-label’ offerings that run natively under another customer’s brand. For example, National Australia Bank uses Australia Post’s SecurePay technology to power its NAB Transact online payments platform.
So as Australia sits on the crest of the next wave of payments transformation set to be unleashed by a demand for the Internet of Things and seamless consumer experiences, the need for a highly trusted hub that bridges personal, business and government interactions has arguably never been greater.
And then, when emerging technologies like Blockchain are put into the mix — an area where Australia Post is applying serious research and development resources – the potential synergy between trust, transactions, innovation and delivery stands to benefit us all.