By Evi Triantafyllides
At the start of a new year, a writer cannot help but engage in one of two activities: provide an account of the primary topics of interest over the past year or offer predictions on what the new year has in store. In an effort to engage in the more forward-looking endeavor of the two, here's my take on what will happen this year.
We might have thought payment options and opportunities had reached a saturation point, slowly receding and settling toward fewer, more rigidly defined systems, but we were wrong. Or, at least, we're not ready to be proven right just yet.
Payment methods and formats are bound to become more before they become less. With options ranging from wearable payment devices, scannable quick response codes and social media's proliferating "purchase now" buttons, to peer-to-peer payments, wallets and prepaid cards, companies are realizing the power of payment platform data and are rushing to capitalize on it – a trend that probably will continue in the coming year. So what product announcements are likely to pop up in our newsfeeds in 2017? Here are a couple of possible headline candidates:
However, room for new companies to infiltrate the market will eventually reach its peak, and we will start experiencing a "what's whose" game. Meaning? With smaller fintech startups finding it difficult to scale, they will start reshuffling in an "acquisition and fade away" rush: tech and payment giants alike will shop for their favorite innovations and add them under their canopy of products.
In recent years, considerable industry focus has been on mobile wallets. I believe this will continue in 2017 – with rebranded, rethought and more convincing versions. Yes, we know. Some major players tried so hard and failed even miserably harder. Will this happen again? I think so. Whether it's in a couple of months or a little further into the year, big tech giants and card brands alike are going to aim for a mobile wallet war comeback.
Why revisit a failed plan? Well, for the simple reason that the plan has been too overly invested in, engineered and marketed to just give it all up. At the end of the day, the extent to which consumers can really resist a change whose fate has been predetermined by the big corporations is always short-lived.
The mandate to migrate to EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) chip-enabled terminals and heightened emphasis on technologies focused strictly on security were both instrumental in shifting the spotlight away from the U.S. mobile wallet push initiative. Nonetheless, a comeback is overdue. With the rollout of 3D Secure 2.0, whose specifications heavily focus on the development of seamless, wallet-based authentication, coupled with Alipay's move into the U.S. market, perhaps this is the perfect instant for wallets to strike back.
Assuming the ways available for people to make payments can be paralleled to a segregated "division of labor" model, a counter trend will be detected in software designed to receive payments. How so? Even though the payments circle has long taken pride (for lack of a better word) in its extremely fragmented, inefficient operating mode, the need for a change is evident. A change whose time has arrived.
With the diversification of payouts reaching a tipping point, both in terms of type and scope (think an array of cross-border contractors, resellers, partners, virtual terminals and customer relationship management systems), the old structure is starting to feel increasingly dated and restrictive. New platforms entering the market are striving to be all encompassing, multipurpose solutions that offer cohesive management and operational tools, compliance, tracking and data analysis.
Even though these developments have been marginalized in terms of payment and fintech innovation headlines, this could be one of the most efficient transformations yet, bringing about significant improvements for all players involved.
We should research, embrace and progress, and use the acronym (REP) to signify something bigger than a sales representative this year. Here's what I mean:
Even though the future of payments surely looks messy, one thing is certain: change will continue to escalate. And the only way to survive and thrive is to embrace change and use it toward your advantage to help your business move forward. Take REP to heart, and you'll stand a chance of climbing up the change ladder in the year ahead.
Evi Triantafyllides is the Marketing Director at PAAY, a software solution that qualifies e-commerce transactions at lower interchange rates and shifts liability for e-commerce fraud away from merchants, to the card issuers. Evi was the first full-time employee at PAAY. She is responsible for the company's marketing, and at the same time focuses on ISO relations and partnerships. Find out about PAAY at www.paay.com or reach out to her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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