By Marc Beauchamp
Editor's Note: This column brings to an end Marc Beauchamp's term as Street SmartsSM author. Through a year of unprecedented challenges, he helped payments colleagues navigate the new normal and establish business practices that work under all conditions. With gratitude, we look forward to staying in touch with Marc to see what his next steps are, and hope you will join us in bidding him a fond farewell. In April, John Tucker, who penned this column in 2016 and 2017, will take over the column. We will welcome him with enthusiasm in our next issue.
It's been a real honor and privilege to pen the Street SmartsSM column for the last year. When I committed to contributing in early 2020, I would have never guessed we would experience the headwinds as well as opportunities we've all experienced. A deadly virus, stock market crash, subsequent rebound to reach new highs and quite a bit of political turmoil—through it all the payments industry has not only survived but thrived.
That reminds me of the old Mike Tyson quote: "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." There is no way around it: for most of us it's been a challenging period, but as with all unexpected problems, it comes down to how we perceive them. Some of my most accelerated periods of growth, personally and professionally, have come from what was initially perceived as a problem.
Who would you be without your problems?
One of the greatest gifts we have is the power of choice. In the past year, some people chose to be victims; others were victors, capitalizing on the opportunities that presented themselves. Whatever your personal circumstances, recent events exposed all of us in areas like family and business relationships, health, fitness, and spiritual connectedness.
I, for one, reevaluated and reconnected to what was really important, and guess what? It wasn't money, portfolios or "stuff." Sure, those things can make life more comfortable, but they are not my "why" behind my "want." I hope you've used this time to reconnect to your purpose, value what's most important to you and choose to live out your life accordingly.
From a business perspective, we had to take a hard look at multiple areas, such as cash flow management, cash preservation, debt service, expense management, staffing, strategic planning, vendor relationships, partner management, employee compensation, tax planning, merchant diversification, leading and lagging business indicators, remote workforce management, and much more. Some companies even changed their entire business models.
We are now in a better place. We have working vaccines being administered, trillions of dollars sit on the sidelines, the fintech/payments industry is on fire, more stimulus is coming, infrastructure projects are being planned, continued low interest rates are promised, inflation is in check, businesses are starting to reopen, and new business formation is at record levels.
The engine of the American economy is tuned up and ready to roar. We are positioned to boom again. There may be bumps in the road along the way, but the pent-up demand coupled with a more positive consumer outlook will create outstanding opportunities for payment players.
I believe the sudden shift to an already upwardly trending segment, ecommerce, cemented new buying habits and shopping preferences that will remain intact. It was the perfect storm: fear, home quarantine, stimulus money, unemployment benefits that encouraged people not to work—all coupled with new innovative online commerce platforms, easy store creation, frictionless payments, and advanced checkout technology readily available. The digital commerce play will continue to boom.
Hot programs and products will keep growing. These include programs like surcharging, cash discount, POS, omnichannel solutions, QR codes, loyalty solutions, analytics and mobile payments. Money will continue to pour into fintech, payments and SaaS platforms. Bitcoin will continue to accelerate.
Buckle up! This is going to be an exciting year. I couldn't be happier to pass the reins to John Tucker, who is a previous Street SmartsSM author. I can't wait to see what topics he tackles. Thank you everyone for your kind comments and support.
Marc Beauchamp is author of Survive and Thrive in the Merchant Services Industry and founder of Bankcard Life, a community for payments professionals. He is offering a free copy of his book to all payments professionals at www.bankcardlife.com/greensheet. Marc welcomes your comments and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.
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