Having just returned from my first international vacation since COVID, I’m sharing my views on the changing cashless payments in Japan.

It’s my sixth trip to the Land of the Rising Sun since 2004 and it’s been interesting to see how the country and society has developed over those years. 

  • I used to feel like the tallest person on the Tokyo Metro, but the younger generation are growing taller
  • I still marvel at the infrastructure and technology, especially their highspeed Shinkansen railway and innovative car scene
  • Their ability to intertwine other cultures and yet remain quintessentially Japanese, is amazing to witness

Despite the advanced nature of their society, Japan curiously lags in digital payments.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) released a plan in 2018 called the “Cashless Vision,” which outlines measures to increase the use of digital payments in the country. The goal of the plan is to increase cashless transactions to 40% by 2025 in an effort to move Japan towards becoming a cashless society. Yet Australia was already sitting at less 63% cashless transactions back in 2019. It’s a strange situation.

So, on my travels through Japan’s major metropolises, regional cities and small towns, I made note of my payment experiences. Maybe COVID had accelerated cashless options, like it had in Australia.

Cash is king

I did not find one venue, store, vending machine or hotel where I couldn’t pay in cash. At one of the large US coffee chains stores, they refused to take any card payment, cash only!

There was not a day where didn’t get cash out of my wallet or fish through my pockets for loose change. Compared to Australia, where many venues are cashless, it’s a jarring experience. 

Card payments abound – but it’s inconsistent

Card payments (my weapon of choice was Mastercard plastic) were widely available, with swipe and insert the preferred method.

Most transactions were auto approved but some required signatures, which I haven’t used in Australia for more than a year. I don’t remember using my PIN but signed at least 5 receipts. Thankfully I had no rejected card payments over during my travels.

EMV and NFC – sort of, sometimes

The EMV symbol was visible at most point of sales, however it often wasn’t working or not offered as an option. I’d usually be ushered to insert the card, or they’d simply say it wasn’t available. 

I tried to use my Mastercard via Apple Pay and shocked some retail assistants when it worked. I’d show them my card on the phone, just to confirm it was a legitimate card payment. Suffice to say, they aren’t big on digital pays.  The Japanese love their signage at POS but there were very few that had the Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay logos.

Alternative payments – IC a future here.

I started to use my transport card PASMO card for some payments. PASMO is one of the many regional options for IC (integrated circuit) cards, which are RFID based cards that dominate the transport payment space. The acceptance levels were high, especially in vending machines and retail chains. 

Whereas Australian public transport is moving towards open loop card payments, Japan’s existing transport payment infrastructure could help drive cashless payments in the medium term.

There were a variety of other payment options too, but again no dominate method had the consistency of acceptance quite like cash.

Cash and coins still required

Unfortunately, those wanting a completely cashless experience in Japan, you’ll be waiting a while.

You could navigate a path without using cash, but it’s just easier to have a couple of 1000s and a fistful of coins to ensure you can always transact.

Having attended my first Customer Owned Banking Association conference (COBA) with Change Financial, I was hoping for a positive experience after such a long break between in person conferences and my expectations were far exceeded.

The Customer Owned Banking Association put on a wonderful event , one of the best I’ve attended in my career.  Aside from the professionally executed conference, panels, sessions, food, and entertainment, it was the COBA members that had the greatest impact on me.  They were open, positive, engaging, and curious.

Change Financial team at COBA2022

The COBA 2022 conference panels, sessions and workshops centred around three  key themes; Smart. Strong and Sustainable.

Whilst that is  an accurate description of COBA member banks,  I took away a different set of themes from the members in attendance: Enhance,  Compete and Grow.

Enhance: Not surprisingly, COBA members were focused on their customer experience, it was central to almost every conversation I came across. There was an acceptance from members that their products and services needed to be enhanced.  COVID has been a catalyst for greater investment in remote and digital bank services and COBA2022 showcased many of these new capabilities that  banks can  deliver to their customers.

Compete: COBA members are often competing for the same customers as the big 4 and larger tier 2 banks.  Customer owned banks can’t compete with the big guys in terms of budgets, but through partners and SaaS offerings, there is an opportunity to match their services and provide a better customer value proposition. A great comment from one of our customers I spoke to was “I want to own my own destiny for card payments, but I don’t have to do it all on my own”. 

Grow: Nearly every bank I spoke to wanted to grow their customer base. In particular, focus on new, younger customers to drive a sustainable future.  Whilst murmurs of mergers and acquisitions continue, COBA members are keen to enhance their services, compete with the bigger players and ultimately grow their customer base.

The Change team was both encouraged and inspired  by the energy, enthusiasm and positivity from the COBA team and their members.  We’re looking forward to supporting the transformation journey for customer owned banks as they continue to enhance, compete, and grow to better rival the major banks in the future.

After onboarding multiple new clients to its global platform, Change Financial (ASX: CCA) is set to convert its recent product launches into new sales opportunities via Stockhead

Fintech payments leader Change Financial confirmed achievement of key platform milestones and new sales in an exciting quarter update this morning.

Among a number of operational highlights, CEO Alastair Wilkie flagged the successful launch of the company’s Vertexon platform, with additional products under development and a strong pipeline of new work opportunities – both in Australia and globally heading into 2022.

“We continued to grow our sales pipeline and see these opportunities progress through the sales funnel. During the quarter, we converted a significant number of opportunities into contracted revenue which will be realised in future quarters,” Wilkie said.

Importantly, Change commenced onboarding its first payments-as-a-service (PaaS) client in the lucrative US market during the quarter and is now pursuing multiple new clients leads across the US, Australasia and Latin America.

Accompanying that strong momentum, Wilkie and the CCA executive team have a clear strategic vision and key performance metrics to drive further growth in the year ahead.

Business highlights

Across the company’s operational objectives, CCA achieved a priority target in Q4 with the successful launch of Vertexon – a modern digital solution for banking clients to unify back-end process for prepaid, debit and credit cards.

During the December quarter, Change launched the Vertexon SaaS platform on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Sydney, to service banks and fintechs in the Oceania region.

Delivered on schedule and on budget, the platform is highly scalable with the functionality for rapid global rollouts in response to client demand.

Along with that in-market launch, CCA also completed the beta phase of testing on the new Application Programming Interface (API) for PaySim – its SaaS-based automated payment testing solution that allows banks and fintechs to accelerate their development and product release cycles, the company said.

“The API enables clients to automate load, stress and regression testing to produce comprehensive results reporting and is the foundational component of PaySim’s software as a service offering,” CCA said.

As a measure of its product market-fit, PaySim is already in use by five of the top 10 digital payments companies globally, and marks a particularly exciting growth channel for Change.

Client momentum

In line with those key successes in product development, CCA was also able to convert its momentum into a number of new client wins.

Among them was the addition of a new fintech Mastercard prepaid card program in the US, which will deliver a minimum contract value of US$700,000 (~$1.0m) over an initial three-year term.

Client on-boarding is “well-progressed” and is expected to go live in the March quarter 2022, CCA said.

In addition, the company has secured US$1.3m (~$1.8m) of sales across its new product platform, with “US$1.1 million of Vertexon projects and US$200,000 of PaySim projects for existing clients”.

“Change expects further significant client wins to close in the third and fourth quarters of FY22 as opportunities progress through the sales funnel,” the company said.

The net outcome is that investors can look forward to a steady pipeline of growth for new revenue and cash-flow channels, as CCA continues to build its client base.

Importantly, around 55% of CCA’s revenue has been generated from recurring revenue streams.

Contracted ARR increased to US$4.7m, led by the successful onboarding of Change’s new PaaS client in the US market.

And as evidence of its strong momentum, Change highlighted that its sales pipeline grew by a net-24 opportunities in the December quarter to 158, while 23 new client opportunities were won and closed out.

“There was a significant increase in customer invoicing in Q2, particularly in December, which is expected to drive cash collections in Q3,” Change said.

With a scalable platform that services more than 16 million payment cards and 147 clients in 41 countries, CCA continues to carve out a profitable niche in the multi-billion dollar global payments market.

And following a transformative period in the second half of 2021, the company is set for a big year of growth in 2022.


Change Financial (ASX:CCA) CEO Alastair Wilkie joined as host of ASX company leaders to share their highlights for 2021 via Stockhead.

It’s been another year of lockdown and supply challenges for all companies dealing with the COVID-19 variants as they pop up. But with challenges, comes opportunities to learn and grow. So as the end of the year approaches, we took the chance to tap our client list and ask CEOs of ASX-listed small caps – from sand miners to cannabis growers to fintechs – what they learnt in 2021, their highlights, and what they hope for in 2022.

Today, we ask: What was your company highlight for 2021?

Alastair explained “We had three really important events”

  • Completing our core card management and processing platform in the US and launching it that into market;
  • Following that, we made a strategic and transformative acquisition that expanded our US operations into a global payments solutions business. This, in turn, sped up our three-year strategic roadmap by 18 months; and
  • We launched our customer ready integrated payments as a service solution “Vertexon.” This was an exceptional performance by the team to achieve that within a year

To hear the experiences from Alastair and the rest of the leader, check out the full article https://stockhead.com.au/news/ceos-look-back-and-share-their-company-highlights-from-2021-2/

Change Financial has announced new board appointments* as the Australian-based business continues to grow and intensify its focus on providing tailored payment solutions, card issuing and testing to global banks and fintechs.

Change currently manages and processes more than 16 million virtual, credit, debit and prepaid cards worldwide, serving 136 clients in 36 countries.

Edward (Eddie) Grobler has been appointed an independent Non-Executive Director. He is a highly experienced card and payments specialist and worked at Mastercard for more than 20 years. During that time, he held several senior roles including Senior Vice President Africa, Executive Vice President /Australasia Division and more recently, he was the UK-based Executive Vice President: Realtime Payments. In this role he was responsible for the development and execution of Mastercard’s real time payments strategy.

Grobler holds a Master in Business Leadership and a Master in Psychology, and is a Graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Alastair Wilkie, Change CEO, said, “I have had the pleasure of working with Eddie over a number of years while he was at Mastercard. We’re delighted to have someone of his calibre join the Change Board as an Independent Director. His experience growing and transforming payments businesses worldwide will be vital to our future growth.”

Tom Russell joins the board as an alternate director to Ben Harrison, Change Chairman. Tom has more than 10 years’ experience as an investor and corporate advisor working across a range of industries with a focus on growth companies in the technology, finance, industrial, energy and resource sectors.

As an Investment Director at Altor Capital, a boutique alternative investment manager, Russell provides corporate advisory services for listed and unlisted emerging companies. Tom previously held both operational and corporate advisory roles in the United States and Australia, and was instrumental in raising capital, advising on corporate structure and business strategy, managing operations and development, as well as launching technology platforms.

Russell holds both a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) and a Bachelor of Economics (Quantitative Methods).

“Tom has been instrumental in the success of Change, to date, both strategically and operationally. His in-depth knowledge of our business has been paramount to our current success, and he brings a great complementary skill set to our team,” Wilkie concluded.

*Subject to shareholder approval at the Company’s AGM on 25 November 2021.

The partnership agreement with US-based Axiom Bank establishes a solid foundation for future growth and upcoming programs for Change Financial in the region.

Global fintech Change Financial (ASX:CCA) has announced a partnership with Axiom, one of the fastest growing community banks in the US.

The three-year partnership is a key step towards expanding Change’s reach in the US, and will be a key relationship when onboarding fintechs in the region.

Change aims to onboard potential clients with Axiom as the issuing bank, leveraging Change’s Mastercard registered processor and payments platform, Vertexon.

CCA’s platform currently manages and processes more than 16 million virtual, credit, debit and prepaid cards worldwide, serving 136 clients in 36 countries.

“Unlocking growth in the US is a key focus of our FY22 strategy, we’re thrilled to announce a strong partnership with Axiom Bank so early in the financial year,” says CCA CEO, Alastair Wilkie.

Partnership underpins Change’s global growth strategy
Headquartered in Florida, Axiom Bank provides a wide range of financial products and services.

These services include retail banking, money market and CD accounts, as well as commercial banking, treasury management services and commercial loans for both real estate and business purposes.

CCA’s payments technology provides the critical infrastructure that connects existing licensed banks with modern API-driven brands, such as fintech platforms.

Under the partnership agreement, Change’s payments platform, Vertexon, will allow onboarded clients to access feature rich products and functionality such as physical and virtual cards, access to ATM networks and Buy Now Pay Later payment options.

The two companies are now working together to onboard potential clients in the US, with the first client expected in the December 2021 quarter.

Axiom Bank’s executive vice president of Banking-as-a-Service, Ron Strand-Sorrell, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Change Financial, and are excited about the opportunities that leveraging their innovative payment solutions bring.”

CCA expects that clients in the US will contribute to driving growth in its recurring revenue.

The partnership also highlights CCA’s ability to deliver on its FY22 growth strategy, by engaging with banks and fintechs to drive future growth.

“We’re committed to strengthening and growing the core business and believe the partnership with Axiom effectively highlights how Change delivers tailored and innovative payment solutions to banks and fintechs around the world,” said Wilkie.

Change is currently undergoing a rapid growth trajectory, with top line revenue surging from US$300,000 in FY20 to US$8.4 million ($11.3 million) in FY21 – in a year described by management as being “transformational”.

In FY22, Change expects its sales pipeline to grow as it focuses on global business development strategies.

One of the strategies includes the rollout of its Phase 2 Customer Ready Platform, which will allow it to offer a next-generation integrated payment processing and card management solutions platform.

The appointment of Tony Sheehan as CFO is a crucial step in Change Financial’s goal to become the leading global payments and platform provider.

Global fintech Change Financial (ASX:CCA) has welcomed a new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to bolster its executive leadership team.

The company has named Tony Sheehan as its new CFO, who will officially start his duties on 19 July.

Sheehan is a highly experienced, strategic and influential finance executive with over 18 years’ international experience in the world of banking and finance.

This includes previous senior roles in Australia, New Zealand and the UK across investment banking, private equity, corporate finance, operations, and sales and marketing.

His extensive experience will help the company execute an aggressive growth roadmap as it embarks on a global expansion that includes pipelines in the US, South America, Thailand, Cambodia, as well as in Australia/New Zealand (ANZ).

240 years of experience
Prior to accepting the role at Change, Sheehan held senior roles at Global Payments Australia/New Zealand, which is part of the NYSE-listed Global Payments Inc.

Global Payments is a leading worldwide provider of payments and commerce technology, as well software solutions delivering innovative software services globally.

Sheehan held the dual roles of Chief Operating Officer (COO) and CFO during his tenure at Global Payments’s Australia/New Zealand operations.

In his role as CFO, Sheehan led and managed all aspects of accounting, financial performance and reporting, compliance, legal, operations, sales and marketing.

The addition of Sheehan to Change’s executive roster will strengthen what is already a highly experienced team with 240 years of combined experience in the fintech and payments industries.

The team is currently led by CEO Alastair Wilkie, and non-executive chairman Ben Harrison.

“Tony’s extensive experience in finance and operations, specifically within the fintech and payments landscape, will be invaluable to Change as we focus on delivering on our strategic objective of becoming a leading global payments and platform, providing innovative solutions to business and financial institutions,” Wilkie said.

Huge addressable market
Change is looking to execute on a major market opportunity, with global non-cash transactions projected to grow from US$684 billion in 2019 to US$1.5 trillion in 2025.

The company has developed innovative and scalable payments technology offering Banking as a Service (Baas) solutions to businesses and financial institutions.

This platform effectively provides the critical infrastructure that connects existing licensed banks with modern API- driven brands, such as fintech platforms.

Change manages and processes more than 16 million credit, debit and prepaid cards worldwide, serving more than 125 customers in 36 countries.

Part of CCA’s growth strategy is to upgrade the existing platform with new features such as debit and credit cards, which the company expects will increase its addressable market by 10 times.

The appointments will bolster its payment solutions in the key markets of Australia, New Zealand, and the US.

Global fintech Change Financial (ASX:CCA) has announced a number of key appointments to its payments solutions teams, as it looks to further bolster its Australian, New Zealand and American businesses.

The company has appointed Nick Beach as Senior Vice President of Payment Solutions.

David McAleese and Brian Hodgdon meanwhile, have also both been appointed Vice Presidents of Business Development and Client Relations.

Beach will be based in Brisbane, and will be responsible for payments and card solutions globally, while working closely with business development and project delivery teams.

Beach’s previous role was at EML Payments (ASX:EML), where he worked for nine years holding several senior roles, and was most recently Head of Product and Solutions.

His other prior experiences included stints at SPARQ Solutions and JPMorgan Chase.

McAleese and Hodgdon will join as part of Beach’s Payments Solutions team.

Both will work with Change’s Latin American team to drive future growth, with McAleese based in Brisbane and Hodgdon in New Jersey, US.

McAleese has previously worked at leading organisations such as First Data, Citibank, ANZ, Westpac.

In those roles, he had built good relationships and partnered closely with key clients such as BOQ, Suncorp, Auswide, IMB, MyState and RACQ to deliver B2B customer solutions.

Prior to joining Change, Hodgdon held senior roles at Intermex and Payomatic where he led numerous new sales initiatives for payments and mobile card services growth in the banking and fintech market across the US and Latin America.

“All three bring extensive industry experience, and position us well for continued growth in the payments space,” says Change CEO, Alastair Wilkie.

“These appointments will be pivotal to our success of delivering user-centric solutions to our clients as we build the next generation of payments solutions and services for the global market.”

Change’s record quarter
The appointments coincide with Change’s record Q4 revenue, as the company pushes forward with the strategy of capitalising on global opportunities.

Change says it’s expecting rapid pipeline growth in these new markets and the new executives will work together to spearhead the rollout of Change’s Phase 2 Customer Ready Platform, which will allow it to offer a next generation integrated payment processing and card management solutions platform.

Prior to today’s appointments, Change also appointed a new CFO, Tony Sheehan – an experienced and strategic finance executive with over 18 years’ international experience in the world of banking and finance.

It’s expected that the extensive experience brought by these appointments will help Change execute an aggressive growth roadmap as it embarks on a global expansion that includes pipelines in the US, South America, SE Asia, as well as in Australia/New Zealand.

Change’s platform currently manages and processes more than 16 million virtual, credit, debit and prepaid cards worldwide, serving more than 125 customers in 36 countries.


Fintech payments company Change Financial (ASX:CCA) announced this morning that it’s finalised the strategic acquisition of Wirecard’s Australian and New Zealand assets.

The company confirmed the completion of the sale conditions, which will see it take control of Wirecard’s Australia and New Zealand operations.

The acquisition follows Change’s initial announcement earlier this month, when the company jumped at the opportunity to acquire the Wirecard assets at attractive multiples.

And with CEO Alistair Wilkie – the former chief operating officer at $1bn payments platform EML Payments (ASX:EML) at the helm, Change is well placed to convert its strategic acquisition into a material profit generator in the years ahead.

Change said the deal gave it control over a strong global payments business that generated recurring revenues of $9.3m in the 2020 financial year, and total income of more than $15m.

Wirecard’s Australian and New Zealand business specialises in card management and payment platform solutions, for “banks and financial institutions as well as digital brands and fintechs”, Change said.

The business currently serves more than 120 customers across 35 countries, including the ‘Big Four’ Australian banks and major supermarket operators.

Importantly, all key personnel at Wirecard have stayed with the business post-sale – a direct indicator of senior management’s view about the platform’s growth prospects.

Prior to the acquisition by Change Financial, Wirecard’s regional leadership group also explored the potential for a management buy-out (MBO) for the assets, to capitalise on the global opportunity.

As of today (October 1), all required staff of Wirecard Australia & NZ are now employed by Change Financial.

Customer transfer
In confirming the deal, Change advised that it has now started receiving signed assignment deeds for Wirecard customers.

In conversations with administrator McGrath Nicol, which selected Change’s offer in a competitive bidding process, the company expects to complete more assignment deeds in the months ahead.

In addition, existing Wirecard customers have continued to use the company’s services and pay their bills throughout the administration process.

With the sale now completed, Change is focused on accelerating the integration process and expanding market share in the months ahead.

The company flagged a “10-fold” increased of its addressable market via the introduction of new card services.

It also plans to onboard more than 10 companies from its existing client base in the US to the expanded product offering.