This past year has been an exciting one for the PF space. Mergers and acquisitions have helped to define a new landscape, as players jockey for position. New products, services and companies have arisen in support of this approach to payments.

As the year nears its end, we asked experts to reflect on what they think the year 2019 will bring. Here’s what they told us.

PF Model Growth Will Accelerate

Although the PF model is now officially on the map, with recognition from legacy players and a growing number of companies and solutions dedicated to the space, it’s still relatively early days, according to Todd Ablowitz, CEO and founder of Infinicept and publisher of PaymentFacilitator.

During his presentation at PF WORLD 2018, Ablowitz cited data from a recent survey indicating that this year could be big in terms of growth for the PF model. According to that survey, over half of ISVs and VARs plan to dip their toes into payments and 96% of those plan to do so by the end of 2019.

“I think that we will see us continue to accelerate payment facilitation, entering the growth part of the S curve. I do not think we’re there yet. Around the world it’s even earlier – most markets are just finding their feet. But, on a global basis, it will start to be felt in a very substantial way,” Ablowitz said.

ISV Acquisitions Will Pick Up

Over the past couple of years, mergers and acquisitions have made news as payments and software companies adjust their businesses in response to the market. The new reality of integrated payments has required more and different solutions, and the industry’s tectonic plates are shifting to meet that demand.

Since the middle of 2017, Global Payments acquired ACTIVE Network, First Data picked up BluePay, Chase snagged WePay and just recently, Paya acquired PF Stewardship Technology.

Rick Oglesby, president of AZ Payments Group, predicts that this type of activity will accelerate in 2019 as payments companies recognize the potential in the intersection of software and payments and set out to acquire the capabilities that will set them apart.

PFs Will Become Better Educated, Better Connected

When a software company takes on the responsibility for enabling entry into the payments system, it enters a vast new world of risk mitigation and compliance with card network rules and government regulation.

While a company can set up a compliance program with help and input from risk management experts, it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it prospect. Integrating payments into your software also means integrating the responsibility for payments security into your culture and your processes on a deeper level, a stance that requires an increase in knowledge. Fortunately, the industry has evolved to support that.

“PFs now have resources that help them understand and provide networking opportunities where they learn from each other,” said Deana Rich, CEO of Rich Consulting. “Even simple Google searches provide more information today than they did five years ago.”

In addition, PF sponsors have developed a more in-depth understanding of how the PF model plugs into the ecosystem and have responded with evolving requirements that better reflect the level of risk and the responsibility of the PF, she said.

And the educational opportunities that are now open to PFs go beyond risk and compliance, according to PaymentFacilitator CEO Greg Myers.

“In 2019 there will be more and more widespread opportunities to learn about the PF landscape, including how – and why –to become a PF. The learning opportunities are important in any newly developing market,” Myers said.

These predictions paint a picture of an industry that has matured, moving well beyond the idea that could disrupt the way payments are done to a fully formed model that is, quite simply, taking off.