Carin Rehncrona: "I study payment services and solutions"
Society is moving away from cash and cash payment. Instead, there is a growing amount of digital transactions and payment solutions. What does the consumer and the retailer think? Carin Rehncrona shares some insights from her doctoral studies and thesis work.
Carin was born and raised outside of Barsebäck on the Scanian west coast. Her interest in the banking world brought her to Lund university and a master’s in economics with a thesis in banks capital structure. It was high on the agenda at the time after the financial crisis, when many banks had insufficient capital, new capital requirements to strengthen resilience in the financial system and lower systemic risk (the classical bank run problem) came about. However, there was scant knowledge on how capital requirements actually affected banks’ capital structure.
She first came in contact with service studies through the Centre for retail research, when two projects on the topic of customers and innovation in retail was started. Around the time for the projects at the Centre for retail research took place, digital payment solutions was gaining momentum. That gave Carin ideas for her thesis.
– I am interested in what makes some solutions become the standard ones? Payments can today be seen as a service, and the retailers provide these services to make purchases easier. What characterizes a payment service? What makes it a service? I am also looking into different aspects of friction in this area. When is convenience too convenient?
In 2015 the EU presented a new payment service directive (PSDII 2015/2366) with the purpose of developing the market for electronic payments and create better conditions for safe transactions. In the banking industry there was scepticism , but in the end, it has been beneficial to many banks and for innovation. Transactions make up a significant part of banks’ profit. Payment services bring value to retailers but also costs. Every payment solution means an extra cost, and it becomes a trade-off on what services they should provide.
– There is a lot of resistance to payment services, from all directions. Are they really secure? Can I be sure that the right amount is drawn from my account and that I won’t get hijacked? Sometimes it goes too smoothly to make a purchase and the costumer would have preferred more steps to complete it. In which situations does a consumer want the purchase to be quick and easy, and when should it be longer and more thorough? I want to make the retailers more aware of customers’ need for different payment solutions for different situations and purchases.
The basis of the thesis is made from data collected from different methods that complement each other: Focus groups, interviews and diary studies with consumers; surveys and interviews with retailers, and information and data gathered from retailers websites.
– I usually also keep track of new payment services and learn how they work.
One of the challenges in her work as a doctoral student is the freedom, within certain frames.
– It’s up to yourself to set the frames or even understand their limits. It is also demanding to focus on a small part in a big world when there is so many interesting things to write about. And to sort among the opinions of others about your work and how it should be conducted.
Being a doctoral student at Service studies can in itself be a challenge, but nevertheless a fun one.
– Since the department is interdisciplinary, there's more different views and perspectives than at traditional departments. This means that you develop yourself knowledge-wise all the time. I find it interesting to put my topic in a social science setting. The research that has been done previously is mostly from an information system point of view. No one has, to my knowledge, taken a more holistic approach to payment services before.