With great reach come great obligations

By Savas Manyasli, Chief Technology Officer at Finance Incorporated Limited


As someone fascinated by the interplay of technology and society, I’ve been reflecting deeply on the evolution of the payments industry. It is not proceeding rapidly from one state to another – it’s in a perpetual state of flux, like a graceful dance between consumers and providers.

The needs, wants, and demands of consumers are constantly shifting, and so must we.

Some shifts are behavioural, others technological, some are regulatory, and others are a reflection of sheer scale and cost of the infrastructure. To list all the trends shaping our industry would be futile, for by the time you read this, the landscape will have transformed once more.

Two prevailing trends are particularly interesting to us.

The first is the shift towards digital and mobile payments – a “trend” we’ve discussed for over a decade, yet we now find ourselves at a critical inflection point. More and more retailers are embracing a digital-only policy, refusing to handle cash. This technological advancement is significant not just for its convenience but for its potential social impact, which deeply resonates with our values at FIL.

As Victor Hugo famously said, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” The idea of a cashless society has arrived, but with it comes the risk of leaving behind those who are unbanked or technologically challenged.

Our values are also our obligations. Our drive towards inclusivity means that we have a responsibility to develop digital products for absolutely everyone. While it is customary to hear praise for an older person that describes them as ‘technologically savvy enough to use this app”, we would rather develop user experiences that are easy to use for our users, no matter their demographic. As we encourage the transition to a cashless society, we do so with a sense of responsibility knowing that every user deserves ease, dignity, and access – no matter their age or background.

The second trend that we are fully immersed in is the sustainability of the payments infrastructure itself. 

Fundamentally, it’s imperative to recognize the substantial environmental footprint associated with the payments technologies. This encompasses not just the extensive networks of servers and data centres essential for processing transactions, but also the wide array of point-of-sale devices and the production of plastic cards—each representing critical nodes in the complex infrastructure that underpins digital payments. The cumulative environmental impact of these components, when considered holistically, underscores the significant scale and complexity of the systems required to maintain the seamless operation of digital payment solutions.



It is not just the energy cost. We must also keep the sheer volume of material use in mind. After all, we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.

We are targeting this issue from a number of different angles. 

The first is to reduce the number of physical devices required. Our iPaymix system makes it possible to send and receive payments without the need for a physical plastic card. When pioneering our SoftPOS product, our main driver was the creation of a system that eliminated the traditional POS device. By using an individual’s smartphone as a POS device, we eliminate the need for the manufacture of one device in the chain. Considering that our smartphones are today more of a prosthesis than a new device, it is efficient to use a device that our consumer already owns – once a device has been manufactured, the most responsible thing to do is to maximise its use.

There are more active ways of addressing the impact of payments on our planet. We are working with strategic partners across a number of ecologically responsible projects – such as the conservation of rainforests – and have created a 3-way ecosystem to harness the scale of our payments business for good. From our end, we are committed to completely covering the environmental cost of every transaction over our SoftPOS system. But we are going a step further and creating a platform by which both merchant and customer can contribute to the ecological cost of payments.

By giving both parties the ability to either commit a small amount per transaction or to round up their transaction, we can move towards a net-negative cost of the entire system.

We are sure that, at some point in the future, there will be regulations that enforce a net-zero ecological cost of electronic payments. 

But we aren’t prepared to wait. 

We have a roadmap that is steadily progressing towards net-negative costs and are working with partners inside and adjacent to the industry to do the same. This is the obligation of a company that’s at the cutting edge and that has a significant reach thanks to the sheer volume of transactions we process. 

With great reach comes great responsibility – a responsibility we embrace wholeheartedly. By integrating timeless wisdom with cutting-edge technology, we strive to create a payments ecosystem that is not only efficient but also inclusive and sustainable, working towards the planet we want future generations to inherit.