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Table of Contents

Lead Story

Mobile leads 2014 payments parade

News

Industry Update

Pulse network sues Visa over debit card policies

Bebe breach a reminder of security vulnerabilities

NSA unleashes Nifi for commercial, government use

Cyber Week winners and losers

Features

Relationships are integral to rapid growth

Global travelers shifting to mobile

Views

Merchant life cycle marketing in acquiring

Marc Abbey
First Annapolis Consulting

Payments? Nah, we're a tech company

Todd Ablowitz
Double Diamond Group LLC

Education

Street SmartsSM:
Spreading the word: Marketing tactics for the MLS

Tom Waters and Ben Abel
Bank Associates Merchant Services

Mastering the original merchant 'app'

Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC

The ISO calendar: Don't set and forget your ISO agreement

Adam Atlas
Attorney at Law

RDC and improved FI risk management

Company Profile

Chosen Payments

New Products

Fully integrated POS inside custom mobile apps

CardFlight SDK
CardFlight

Easy, interactive online menu

Online Ordering
EasyWay Ordering

Inspiration

Don't let broken resolutions shut you down

Departments

Readers Speak: Talent for addressing issues of substance

Boost Your Biz: Customer marketing bolsters bottom line

Resource Guide

Datebook

Skyscraper Ad

The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 22, 2014  •  Issue 14:12:02

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Payments? Nah, we're a tech company

By Todd Ablowitz

At The Electronic Transactions Association's October 2014 Strategic Leadership Forum, I moderated a panel on the changing acquiring landscape, and how technology and technology solutions and services are permeating payments throughout the various channels and verticals. What really struck me was that none of the companies on the panel would admit they were a payment company. All four companies said they were tech companies, despite some of them originating from payments.

Global investments in financial services technology (fintech) ventures have more than tripled during the last five years – from under $930 million in 2008 to more than $2.97 billion in 2013. This shows that value is being placed on technology in the financial services industry by the market and by the investor community. We are in a time of opportunity with disruptions in commerce never imagined when the mag stripe was introduced more than 50 years ago.

Payment facilitators redefining themselves

This increase in interest among the investment community is evidence that fintech companies are shaping the industry. It also demonstrates the fundamental shift from traditional payments to the integration of payments into so many more things than purely making and receiving payments, and now merchants and consumers are helping to drive it. "As an innovative company actively engaged in the business of offering integrated, SaaS solutions to SMBs, we're proud to call ourselves a payments company, albeit a fintech payment company," said Jeremy Wing, President at Payscape Advisors.

The tools and services that technologies and technology companies have given to payments have created a larger sphere of what payments is and can be. Going forward, it is all about integration, data and a consultative approach versus a commodity.

"PayPal probably gets credit for starting the revolution," Wing said. "Today, fintech companies are pushing the payments industry to the next level."

Companies like Payscape are vertically integrating their industry segments, combining payments, technology and services to deliver a seamless experience for the merchant, and often the consumer. Payscape owns RegPoint Solutions, which helps camps, schools, nonprofits and event companies manage the registration process. Its web-based platform is designed to deliver a high-value service to customers, leveraging integration with payments to make the experience seamless. Another example, MindBody, is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for yoga studios, fitness parlors, salons, spas and other service businesses. MindBody uses a SaaS-based approach to integrate online booking, POS, marketing, payments and other services.

This type of integration is taken even further with the marketplace model. This model takes the deep technical, payments, and services integration, and adds the two-sided market, connecting merchant partners with consumers to drive enormous value.

The rise of the marketplace model

There is a rapid emergence of the marketplace model, proliferating through many industries. Companies like Uber, Airbnb and Care.com are marketplaces disrupting their vertical markets, while companies like WePay are focused on providing payments through slick application programming interfaces leveraging a full-service payment facilitator model for those marketplaces.

What is most interesting is that technology companies are starting to enter the payments industry, and companies that were historically payment companies are evolving to become technology companies as well as some becoming full-service marketplaces, and the payoff can be huge, with multibillion dollar valuations for some of these players.

For years, legacy business models, inertia, and the complexity of payments restricted growth in the payments industry, allowing, at most, a slow evolution. With today's foundation of the Internet, mobility, cloud computing, and new business models, we see a much more rapid convergence of technology, payments and services that puts fintech on a path of revolutionary change, or at least hyper-evolution. I think we can all agree it will be fun to watch.

Todd Ablowitz, President of Double Diamond Group LLC, is a respected industry leader with more than 15 years of experience working with the acquiring and payments industry's top brands, as well as up-and coming technology innovators. Ablowitz established Double Diamond Group in 2008, and he and his team have a unique blend of experience, connections and know-how to help clients solve their most critical business challenges. Investors, analysts and industry watchers frequently rely on Ablowitz and Double Diamond Group for expert advice, trend insights and consulting on payments and payments innovations including emerging technology trends and mobile payments.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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Spotlight Innovators:

North American Bancard | Harbortouch | USAePay | IRISCRM.COM | Humboldt Merchant Services