The payments industry is more dynamic and innovative than ever before. It’s an exciting time to be a part of these rapid changes, new technology and increasing consumer agency. The introduction of mobile wallets, NFC and digital currency, has made the days of check writing feel increasingly far behind. Just like many other industries before, the payments industry has experienced a massive influx of new companies, technologies and ideas over the last several years, changing more in the last three years than it did over the previous 35, with massive growth predicted. Forrester anticipates that mobile payments will be a $142 billion market by 2019. This period of consolidation and simultaneous growth will certainly be a telling one for all players in the industry.
At Apriva, we’re in a unique position, we enable payments – any payments. In 1999 a chance accident of dropping a BlackBerry into a glass of Kool-Aid led to the foundation of Apriva. We envisioned this growth in the industry before the App Store even existed, and developed our technology platform to enable the latest in payments technologies, knowing that many changes would lie ahead, and that we needed to be ready for them.
There are several interesting parallels between payments now and the credit card industry during its consolidation and growth phase. The Diners Club card was introduced in the 1950s to let hotels and restaurants settle bills with their high end clients for multiple transactions at once. Over the next 20 years new credit cards popped up everywhere, but the market was mostly controlled by direct merchant cards for large retailers. MasterCard and Visa, in a consortia model, allowed for one single credit card tied to a large financial institution that could be used more universally. This is the same thing we’re currently experiencing when it comes to mobile payments.
While companies like Apple, Samsung and Android are introducing mobile wallets, retailers are also introducing their own versions and incorporating loyalty programs and rewards. CurrentC was created by a number of large retailers in response to Apple Pay in an attempt to cut out the “middle man” fee caused by using a credit card and third party applications. This collaboration of retailers though, has been losing what little momentum they had as individual retailers leave to create their own branded wallets, like both Target and Walmart did last year. CurrentC and the new Walmart Pay (launching this year) have the additional challenge of requiring a QR code to process a payment, causing it to be significantly less streamlined than Apple Pay. Additionally, large financial institutions are seeing the benefits of mobile payments and launching their own branded applications for their merchant customers, this can be very beneficial to merchants as they can tie together their bank account and payment platform seamlessly, getting easier access to funds and simplifying their business.
This bring up an interesting question – will merchants, financial institutions or payment/technology giants win in the game of mobile wallets? One can only imagine consumers don’t want to have separate wallets on their phones for every store they shop at, but how else will rewards and loyalty programs be incorporated? This leads us to believe that there will be some very interesting changes and consolidation in the mobile wallet industry, and soon. If financial institutions and technology companies could work together to provide a solution that provides all the benefits of mobile payments with ease of access and loyalty in one diverse application – today’s consumer would be hard pressed NOT to adopt it.
No matter who takes the lead in the next generation or mobile payments, or what technology becomes dominant, we at Apriva will be ready. Our technology platform has been evolving with the latest technologies for the last 13 years, and will continue to do so in the future. Biometrics, new payment delivery methods, new currencies and new security technologies are just the standard fare for us as we continue to grow and support the evolving industry. From our Gateway to our product suite, we enable everything from standard payments at brick and mortar locations to mobile payments, ticketing kiosks, vending and more. We thrive on incorporating the latest technologies into our portfolio, and are excited to see what the next chapter in payments holds.
– Stacey Finley Tappin, SVP Sales & Marketing Communications