U.S. payments industry leaders adeptly balance their competitive imperatives with the need to cooperate for the advancement of the industry as a whole. This collegiality, sometimes affectionately dubbed "co-opetition," has always been evident at industry conferences dedicated to educating and inspiring payments professionals, making these gatherings fertile grounds for innovation. As payments enterprises have become increasingly global in scope, new opportunities for co-opetition have fostered beneficial cross-pollination.
One example of this has been the flow of information between the United States and Europe. This issue's lead article delves into how Europeans adopted highly secure chip-and-PIN and contactless digital payments before the United States began a similar migration. Though the infrastructures and political landscapes were and remain different in the two regions, Europe's early experiences helped U.S. stakeholders avoid pitfalls as well as hasten our nation's ability to participate in an increasingly interoperable, global commerce ecosystem.
When it comes to our business partners, cooperation is paramount. One industry expert contributing to this issue reminds us that the majority of profits for many ISOs come from the efforts of their sales partners, so it is essential to inspire loyalty through programs that truly support those partners. Another contributor observed that one thing 2020 made clear is, whether as a species or a collection of organizations, we work best when we collaborate, and points of inflection such as a new year can catalyze our fortitude to re-engage, re-imagine and push forward. Another expert discussed recent research on the unbanked population, which reached an all-time low in 2019, but whether this decline continued in 2020 is as yet unknown.
Another aspect of cooperating to advance the industry as a whole is news of the Electronic Transactions Association's Young Payments Professionals Scholars program, now in its fifth year, which we've highlighted in News Briefs. Other spotlighted stories include Visa's scuttling of plans to acquire the fintech Plaid, an interview with Wnet's first CEO, predictions that the surge in digital shopping will outlast the COVID-19 pandemic, and Mastercard and Visa's initiatives to move contactless payments to the cloud.
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