Merchant Payment Ecosystem (Berlin) – Will Merchants Finally Be Asking the Right Questions?

If someone had asked you 10 years ago; “What functions do you need on your mobile phone?”, do you think you would have come up with even 10% of what’s available now? So what about brand new merchants looking for a payment service provider? Do you suppose merchants know what to ask for?

At MPE Berlin this week, all the usual suspects will be under one roof; card brands, terminal manufacturers, issuers, acquirers, and all the big names in retail. On top of this there are also going to be companies looking to change the payments world.

Unfortunately, few of these vendors will be able to answer the question on every merchant’s mind; What’s next?

The two vendor camps; those who are already established, and those trying to break in, are diametrically opposed. The established camp wants things to stay the same (or to change very slowly) and the new guys want to change everything, yet both sides seem to have forgotten what’s most important.

In 2015 merchants need three things:

  1. Inexpensive payment systems – retail work on razor thin margins
  2. Future-proofed payment systems – whatever they buy now must last years
  3. Improved customer journey – customer retention through better ancillary services are one of the few differentiators left

Current payment systems are far from cheap, limited in their functionality, and cannot adapt to, or integrate with, emerging technologies.

The answer lies somewhere in the middle, and gets back to the most fundamental question in payments; “What IS a payment?”

A payment is nothing but the transfer of an agreed value from one place to another, and the only way BOTH sides feel confortable doing so is with trust. All payment mechanisms are designed to either provide trust, or cover your losses. HOW you make a payment therefore, becomes less important.

The most successful vendors in Berlin will be able to answer the “What’s next?” question because they will be able to do all of the following:

  1. Help YOU ask the right questions for YOUR business
  2. Bridge your current infrastructure with future innovations …ANY innovation
  3. Future-proof your payment infrastructure investments
  4. Assist with improving your customer journey

It’s clear that payments will change dramatically over the next few years, and the catalyst will be advances in user authentication and trust. There is no silver bullet in payments, there never will be, but the basics have never changed, and never will.

The solutions we work toward need to be just as simple.