1st Edition

Understanding Payments A Whistle-Stop Tour into What You Thought You Knew

By Neira Jones Copyright 2024
    462 Pages 128 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    462 Pages 128 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This is the book for professionals in the payments industry. Written in an engaging and accessible style, it enables new and experienced payments practitioners alike to understand the fundamentals of the various payment ecosystems, and to quickly get up to speed on developments in the industry.

    From cards to bank and alternative payments, the jargon is debunked and myths are busted. For each ecosystem, a simple framework is used: mechanics, economics, risks, and future outlook, enabling comparison and the evaluation of the best applications in different scenarios. The book also provides an overview of the global regulatory landscape. Drawing on real examples throughout, it weaves together the underpinning ecosystem principles, legislation, and key stakeholders. It offers readers practical advice regarding, and insights into, the key disciplines and equips them with an understanding of the key issues and opportunities. Also including an extensive and comprehensive glossary of terms – the first of its kind in the payments industry – this book will be used as an essential reference for years to come.

    Understanding Payments will enable payments practitioners, private sector corporations, and regulators to keep up with a fast-evolving and extremely competitive industry. It can be used across businesses to help train staff and as part of continuing professional development, and will be useful to those involved in mergers and acquisitions, investors wanting to understand the industry, professional services firms, law firms and consultants, and policy makers.

    1. Card Payment Mechanics  2. Card Payment Economics  3. Bank Payments Systems  4. Open Banking and Alternative Payments  5. Payments Regulations and Licences


    Neira Jones advises organisations of all sizes on payments, fintech, regtech, cybercrime, information security, fraud, and regulations. As a strategic board advisor and non-executive director, she takes great pride in working with innovative companies and contributing to their growth. She is an independent panel member for the Payment Systems Regulator, and has previously worked for Barclaycard, Santander, Abbey National, Oracle Corp., and Unisys.

    “This is a seminal work simplifying and clarifying the complex web of payments. Payments has gone from being boring to the boardroom and Understanding Payments shines a light on the intricacies and actors within the payments eco-system. It’s a must read to help decode what has been a poorly understood subject.”

    Sir Ron Kalifa, Author of the Kalifa Review of UK Fintech, published on 26 February 2021

    “A must-read for anyone interested in payments or fintech. I wish I had this book when building Monzo.”

    Tom Blomfield, Founder of Monzo and GoCardless, Y Combinator Partner

    Understanding Payments will gain a significant place in the Payments Industry being both an extremely good educational tool and an ongoing reference book. Anyone entering the complex world of Payments will benefit from this book from Day 1. It’s an easy read and covers all areas of the Payments Value Chain based on Neira’s considerable knowledge and experience. She set out to demystify Payments and has certainly achieved that objective. I particularly liked the detailed analysis of Payments Regulations and Licences; the former often viewed as a mundane area but adherence is essential in any business operating in the payment industry. This is one of Neira’s main areas of focus and will be a key reference chapter for many of us. The Glossary is amazing. Probably  a decent subject for Mastermind and clearly worth having with you at all times! Already recognised as an Industry expert, Neira’s first book will, I am sure, not be her last and I look forward to the second volume.”

    Roger Alexander, NED Portfolio

    “It's very hard to find all you need to know about payments in one place. This is the place.”

    Chris Skinner, CEO, TheFinanser.com

    “This indispensable guide to the payments industry will become one of the most well-thumbed books in my study, I have no doubt whatsoever.”

    Dave Birch, Author, advisor and commentator on digital financial services

    Understanding Payments is a tour de force in depth and scope, and it’s a likely candidate to become the first authoritative source of knowledge and reference for payments professionals, those aspiring to join the ranks of payments professionals, investors, regulators, academic research and education.  There is a common saying in the payments industry: ‘Payments are easy as long as they work’. Neira Jones very expertly lays out how and why different payment types, cards, open banking, crypto, actually work and how they depend on technology, collaboration, private enterprise, regulation, and innovation. Neira Jones’s grasp of the interdependence of technology, business models and trust gives Understanding Payments additional relevance to all professional communities that depend on getting paid - or paying someone else.”

    Stanley Skoglund, Partner, Minerva Partnership Consultancy

    “Neira’s book is a much-needed guide to the complex and diverse world of payments.  It is also a highly entertaining guide to that world – I particularly love her cartoons!”

    Jim Wadsworth, EVP, Konsentus; Formerly at Mastercard, Vocalink, JPMorgan

    Understanding Payments serves as a comfortable digest of the complex and many-faceted world of payments. For the average merchant, the organizations that enable electronic payments probably seem like a secret society complete with clandestine meetings where world-changing decisions are made and whose black-robed members expect merchants to be grateful for only having to pay a few percentage points for the privilege of having access to the fringes of the system. Neira Jones has done a wonderful job of peeling back the covers and providing down-to-earth explanations and illustrations that help to dispel these myths and fears and to peel away the complexities. Kudos for the research and shared experience.”

    Gary Yamamura, President, Edept LLC

    “Neira has brought her wealth of experience together and produced the go-to resource tool for providers, users and advisers operating in the incessant payments’ ecosystem.  Understanding Payments guides the reader, using plain English and intuitive graphics, through all the details essential to understanding and demystifying the world of payments and is essential reading for those who are new to the industry as well as more seasoned professionals.”

    Stuart Campbell, Head of Payments at TLT LLP

    “A fascinating summary covering cards, interbank payments and Open Banking at a detailed but accessible level of detail. I keep dipping in and reading sections, with clear explanations, industry context and Neira’s distilled words of wisdom on every page. No matter your level of experience, there is great learning content and concise explanations, making it valuable to all levels of reader.”

    Simon Burrows, Payments Partner, EY LLP

    “Neira shines clarity and gives light into the complex world of payments. This is The Payments Bible and is a great accompaniment to Neira’s lifelong purpose of educating the payments industry. Every payment professional should read it and every business should have it as a reference point.”

    Angela Yore, Co founder, SkyParlour

    Understanding Payments is a must-read for anyone in the business - be they a payment geek or a non-geek. The book demystifies the complex worlds of card and non-card payments in an entertaining and highly accessible way. An internationally recognised expert in payments, Neira Jones has written an authoritative work that bridges the gap between complex financial systems and everyday life. Her deep knowledge and passion for the subject matter shine through every page. With her engaging writing style, she guides readers through the landscape of both established payment systems and emerging technologies, and highlights the increasingly 'blurred lines'  we now live and work with. Understanding Payments is an exceptional work that is poised to become a definitive reference in the field of payments. I wish I’d had this book when I started out in payments!”

    Jeremy Nicholds, Managing Director, Judo

    “I’ve been in payments now for over 20 years and have always tried to resist the label of ‘expert’; and how vindicated (and humble) do I feel when reading Neira’s invaluable and comprehensive text on all things payments. Here is the expert! This will certainly become my go to reference for all the things I thought I knew, should have known or never really got to the bottom of! I’ve been leading payments teams for a while and have been an advocate of the need to create some recognition of the specialist and critical nature of the knowledge required – this book is a huge step forward in illustrating the crucial nature of the payments industry. Nothing moves without the value transaction to support it and Neira’s eloquent and easily to navigate explanations and illustrations will ensure we can continue to underpin that vital service with a foundation of knowledge for practitioners old and new. We all owe a huge thank you to Neira for the commitment to create such an important body of work.”

    Paul Horlock, Chief Payments Officer, Payments Centre of Excellence, Chief Operating Office, Santander

    “A superb enlightening journey through the world of payments! This book masterfully navigates decoding complex concepts into digestible form making the payments industry, for the first time, accessible to readers across a wide audience. From traditional methods to cutting-edge digital innovations, the book covers it, sparking a newfound appreciation for the payments ecosystem under constant evolution. The author's engaging prose effortlessly bridges all the moving parts. A must-read for anyone curious about the mechanics of payments, this book leaves you empowered with knowledge and a positive outlook on the limitless opportunities within payments.”

    Adrian Hausser, CEO, PayX Group

    “This is the book that needed to be written. To dissolve the myths. To get us all to the same level of understanding. To fill in the gaps. Equipped with the insights from Neira’s clear, unambiguous and thorough book, we can now align, resolve, plan and direct our resources towards a better future through payments. Underlying this excellent book is something that reveals the difference that payments makes to the world around us – removing friction and cost, reducing risk, enhancing convenience and increasing trust in a low trust world.

    Understanding Payments helps us achieve our goal of democratising payments, removing the knowledge elites and opening up the industry to everyone. After reading this book there will be no more exclusion through ignorance. I commend it to anyone who wants to understand the part our industry plays in making the world work, and enhancing their role in it.”

    Tony Craddock, Director General, The Payments Association

    Understanding Payments is The Book we have been waiting years to be written. Neira Jones, a highly respected industry practitioner, helps explain the many different payment types available today, how payments are actually made, introduces us to the multitude of stakeholders showing where they fit in the value chains, covers the economic models involved and presents the current regulatory environment in which they operate.

    In this easy to digest book she demystifies the abbreviations and buzzwords banded around, using a light-hearted writing style and original hand drawn illustrations. Understanding Payments will appeal to all those holding responsibility for payments, newcomers to the industry, as well as those with an inquiring mind. The payments industry is highly complex and experiencing rapid change. Thanks to this comprehensive and up to date book, readers will be better equipped to take sensible decisions.”

    Mark McMurtrie, Director, Payments Consultancy Ltd and Ambassador, The Payments Association

    “Neira Jones’ Understanding Payments is a well-crafted, researched and detailed review of the Card Payments Industry, and is a significant and weighty tome that will help both those in the industry and those wishing to understand its depth and complexity. The structure and fresh approach made the subject easy to follow and will enhance the knowledge of those who consume its goodness. I particularly enjoyed the Illustrations by Neira's hand; they are clear, well-presented and will add significant value to anyone with a card Payments curiosity. The book is beyond compare; I know no other author with the depth of knowledge and understanding of this complex subject.”

    Soteris Vasili, Chairman Vasili Advisory

    “I had the pleasure of reviewing Neira’s book or rather handbook or even bible. Neira is a long time expert and practitioner in our industry and it shows in the way she has approached the topic. It is a hugely detailed useful guide that cater for everyone; whether you are a payments industry professional, an entrepreneur, a technology enthusiast, or simply curious about payments this book caters to readers of all backgrounds. Whether you seek to upgrade your knowledge on payments or simply wish to comprehend the intricate mechanisms that underpin our daily financial interactions, this book promises to be an enlightening and enjoyable read. Its written in an easy to read, not too serious manner but with sufficient depth to satisfy those who really want to gain a thorough understanding of the area.

    Having reviewed the first four chapters on payment mechanics, economics, non-card based mechanics and regulations and licences including KYC AML and a review of Crypto standards I can wholeheartedly recommend the book which is engaging and informative leaving no stone unturned in its exploration of the fascinating world of payments. Its well-structured content, insightful analysis, and real-world examples make it an invaluable resource.”

    Janusz Diemko, CEO Xelopay, Angel Investor Mentor, Industry Enthusiast and Consultant

    “Simply . . . Superb! Written by somebody who has clearly had 'a life in and around payments' and decades of experience, it is very clearly and concisely referenced and covers each and every facet of the complexity that surrounds banking, payments, technology and their respective, inexorable interfaces & intersections. Additionally, it cross-references key components whilst avoiding the inevitable Jargonese that typically surrounds intricate ecosystems in an unputdownable manner. This book is a must read and re-read for anybody that even remotely or deeply touches payments or, needs to learn real quick!”

    Ken Lipton, Chairman, Paycross

    “Neira has produced a comprehensive overview of payments that is both informative and very readable. Comparing the local and global systems and using up-to-date examples of systems and players makes this book an ideal and, indeed, unique ‘go-to’ source for novices and payment geeks alike!”

    Alison Donnelly, Director, fscom

    “As a so-called "payments veteran" having spent most of my career in payments companies, I found myself finally linking all the roles of the participants together, why they exist and what their value is to end users. If this bible of payments existed when I was entering the industry 30 years ago, it would have transformed my career enabling a fast de-mystification of what can be experienced as a complex market, encouraged innovative ideas and entrepreneurial actions for the good of myself and the industry at large. I encourage anyone that has payments experience or those considering entering this fascinating and rewarding industry to consume this book, revisit it regularly and help contribute new ideas as they emerge in this highly disruptive period which can only continue to accelerate in terms of change.

    Investors, start-ups, banks, regulators and anyone involved in the payments industry should read this book. You will finally be able to piece together the ecosystem delivered in such a concise and well-written way. This book should be mandatory for every employee in a company that contributes to the payments industry. Understanding the respective roles and responsibilities of all payments players along with clear view on the economic drivers of those parties can only drive efficiency and value into the payments ecosystem.

    Having a global perspective enables the reader to relate to the challenges of international payment acceptance and articulates the solutions to overcome these. 

    Finally, being able to easily consume material around the world of digital payments, crypto and blockchain, relate this to our legacy payment systems and methods will help the reader to tackle this new world with confidence rather than worry about not being relevant anymore.”

    Andy McDonald, CEO Cloudapps, Advisor to Truevo Payments Ltd, Business Coach; Formerly at ACI Worldwide, Retail Decisions, Moneybox, NCR

    “Neira Jones has great timing. There is so much changing in payments in 2023 and along comes Neira’s book on payments everything. It is up to date with the new Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) proposed regulations in the UK. She has a discussion on the proposed PSD3 regulations in the EU and she talks about the new real time payments in the US. She covers cards, digital wallets and online payments, along with the regulatory issues of the day. I spend my time in online security, but this will be a really good reference for payments.”

    Ken Palla, Retired Director, MUFG Union Bank and Consultant at Palla Consulting

    “This book is a must for anyone within the cyber security professional who is offering consultancy to the finance sector. Having a sound understanding on how the payment eco systems works is critical if you are to assist with securing it.”

    Charles White, CEO, The Cyber Scheme

    “A book to read and to have for everybody who works and is interested in the payment industry and beyond! A masterpiece combining a clear explanation of the complex payment ecosystem with a valuable perspective on future developments and opportunities! Brava Neira.”

    Flavia Alzetta, CEO, NED, Advisor

    “In a field where jargon often clouds understanding, Understanding Payments by Neira Jones stands as a lighthouse of clarity. Neira masterfully deciphers the complexity of payments and fintech, offering invaluable insights for both seasoned experts and novices alike. I was particularly captivated by her detailed yet accessible breakdowns of open banking, interbank systems, cross-border, and emerging technologies. The book's perfect blend of depth, real-world examples, and clear language makes it an essential resource that you'll want to keep within arm's reach, whether you're in the C-suite or just entering the industry. Just like AI, you’ll survive without it, for now, but with it, you will go further and faster.”

    John Davies, CTO / co-founder of Velo Payments

    “On behalf of all payment professionals and enthusiasts, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for Neira’s selfless dedication to publishing a book on payments that isn’t boring. Her efforts are poised to establish an enduring educational legacy, a sentiment succinctly encapsulated by the words of political scientist Kalu Ndukwe Kalu: ‘The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.’

    In this luminous context, Neira's accomplishment shines through as she presents a book about payments that masterfully engages readers without succumbing to monotony. This book not only caters to those seeking to revisit or comprehend unfamiliar facets of the industry but also warmly welcomes newcomers to the intricate world of payments.

    With bated anticipation, we eagerly await the forthcoming release of the second volume!”

    Dr Mark Goldspink, Payments Professional