McKinsey: Coronavirus will cost the payments industry $165bn

Chart: McKinsey's post-coronavirus global payment revenues forecast
GRIM READING: McKinsey’s post-coronavirus global payment revenues forecast (click image to enlarge)

An analysis of the global payments industry by McKinsey & Company predicts that Covid-19 will result in a loss of revenues of between US$165bn and US$210bn in 2020 — and sets out “ten fundamental changes to the payments ecosystem that will help all of us find a new normal.”

“One thing is clear now: there will be no return to the norms of 2019,” the analysts say. “The impact on the behavior and expectations of customers and businesses — indeed the entire fabric of the economy — will be profound.

“So it is critical not only for the payments ecosystem but also for the economy as a whole to develop, today, the payments solutions that will allow economies to emerge from the current crisis efficiently and define the post-Covid-19 future.”


“Any projection of industry performance rests on assumptions about overall economic activity,” they explain.

“The outlook largely depends on the spread of the virus, the public health response, and the effectiveness of the fiscal, monetary, and broader public response.

“A relatively optimistic scenario, taking into account these variables, assumes that the virus will be contained after an economic lockdown of two to three months in Europe and the United States.

“Under this scenario, global GDP would decline in 2020 by 1.5%, which we estimate would result in, at most, a decline in payments revenues of around $165bn, some 8% lower than they were in 2019 — instead of the 6% increase against the base of $1.9tn we projected before the crisis.

“A second, more pessimistic, scenario contemplates a muted recovery, with resurgence of the virus in China and continued spread in the United States and Europe, leading to a continued drop in global trade levels and a sustained contraction of major economies.

“Under this scenario, global GDP would contract by 4.7% in 2020, which could lead to a decline in global payments revenues in excess of $210bn, around 10% to 12% of pre-crisis levels.”


The authors also highlight ten fundamental changes that “the industry should predict or anticipate.” These are:

  1. Rationalize cash
  2. Ensure universal access
  3. Stabilize digital currencies
  4. Make the leap to omnichannel payments solutions to support omnichannel commerce
  5. Make all payments touchless
  6. Expand digital-wallet solutions beyond payments
  7. Deploy data as a protection against fraud
  8. Promote a new era of cooperative competition
  9. Transform bank-payments operating models
  10. Redesign the regulatory model

“Managing the immediate threat to people’s health and well-being is currently the highest priority, so not all these reforms can be achieved immediately,” the authors conclude.

“But we do believe it is imperative to balance short-term crisis management today with thinking ahead to the restart of the economy and preparing for the new normal.

“Keeping one eye on the road ahead could allow us to exit the crisis with a more customer-focused, efficient, and resilient payments industry.”

The full analysis is available on McKinsey’s website.

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