Payment facilitators, software companies, processors, risk management experts and others convened in Santa Clara, Calif., this week to learn about the PF ecosystem and best practices at PF WORLD 2019.

Delivering the keynote address, Poynt founder and CEO Osama Bedier described payments capabilities as “plumbing,” telling the audience that you “can’t create a great customer or merchant experience” without them.

“Software with payments embedded will pave the way” to a new era, he said. Bedier predicted that payment facilitators will represent $1.5 trillion in processing volume in the next three years.

Bedier’s address kicked off the first day, which featured an overview of the global PF market, the journey to become a payment facilitator, and the relationships and tools available to help new and existing PFs succeed.

Speaking on a panel of software companies and payment facilitators discussing the benefits – both expected and unexpected – of integrating payments, Stripe business lead Cristina Cordova told the audience that the company strives to bring together the services a business needs into one package, adding that it was exciting to “help businesses get created and thrive.”

In one of several panel discussions aimed at demystifying the decisions along the journey to becoming a PF, Mahmoud Abdelkader, CEO of Very Good Security, advised the audience to decide first whether they can create a strategic advantage by adding payments.

And during another panel discussion featuring processors on their role in the ecosystem, participants echoed that need for companies to understand why they want to become payment facilitators and what value they might provide their customers by adding payments. The speakers emphasized the ways that processors and other partners can help provide pieces of the payment facilitator puzzle, with First Data’s Tom Tucker calling becoming a PF a “team sport.”

In a session on the global landscape for payment facilitators, the focus was on the massive shift to digital payments in India. That opportunity is particularly relevant for PFs, who are helping to onboard the millions of small and micromerchants who are not yet accepting electronic payments.

Existing payment facilitators also shared insights based on their own journeys. Nina Velleyan, president of Stewardship Technology, advised software companies to know their core competencies and own their customers. And Kasturi Mudulodu, vice president of Product Management for Yapstone, advised the audience to “do the math and get the facts,” evaluating all options – including “build, buy or partner” – rather than rushing into being a PF.

Capping off the day during a panel discussion on the future of the payment facilitator market, Rich Aberman, co-founder and CSO of WePay, said that “software to manage operations that includes payments is the way of the future.”

“There’s no easy button”

Day 2 featured the introduction of the PF Academy – a deeper dive into PF operations, including sales; submerchant contracting; card brand, regulatory and PCI compliance; risk management and more.

Kicking off the day, Sam Sherzad, Fivestars lead product manager for payments, shared insights into mitigating the major risk factors of becoming a payment facilitator. “There’s no easy button to become a PF,” he told the audience. “You have to iterate.”

Also focusing on risk management, Dan Spalinger, senior consultant for Double Diamond Group & Rich Consulting, warned the audience that when underwriting submerchants, PFs must investigate and use critical thinking, as even things that appear to be low-risk may not be.

And in a session on sales and developing a go-to-market strategy, Kevin Brown, founder and senior consultant for NextB Consulting, reiterated the need for PFs to know their submerchants, to be able to fit pricing to their businesses.

“Tailor pricing, the way you tailor your software,” he said.

The day also included representatives from Mastercard, Visa and American Express, who addressed their relationships to payment facilitators, including their rules for the business model and trends that they are seeing in the market.

Following the event, Deana Rich said, “This year’s PF WORLD really built on the success of the inaugural conference. It shone a spotlight on the market and its inherent opportunity while it provided more in-depth information about how to successfully capitalize on that opportunity. The speakers brought rich expertise from across the payments ecosystem.” Rich is CEO and founder of Rich Consulting, co-founder of Infinicept and co-creator of the event.

“It’s been clear for some time now that the payment facilitator market holds significant opportunity for the right companies using the right approaches. The sessions at this year’s event made it clear that software + payments is the future,” said Todd Ablowitz, CEO and co-founder, Infinicept and co-creator of PF WORLD. “The attendees and speakers at PF WORLD 2019 are in the trenches delivering on a better experience for merchants globally.”

Watch for more from the event in the coming weeks, as we share videos with additional insight from PF WORLD 2019.