Payments industry-watchers had long anticipated some of the big-name mergers and acquisitions that have dominated the news this year. Once Fiserv agreed to acquire First Data in January, and FIS announced its plans to acquire Worldpay just a couple of months later, signs pointed to a possible deal between Global Payments and TSYS. That prediction came true in May.

While these giant companies are occupied with combining their offerings, the payments space continues to be a hot market for providers of capital. Investment firms are funding new startups that seem to be appearing every week. 

So, what will come next? And what does all this activity ultimately mean to the industry? How do companies compete in this shifting environment, and how different will the landscape look just a year from now?

To explore these questions, we’re beginning an occasional series featuring different perspectives from across the industry, from investment firms to payment facilitators to other providers within the integrated payments ecosystem, talking to them about their own plans and their observations on the industry at large.

This week, we begin with an interview with Ralph Dangelmaier, CEO of payments platform provider and payment facilitator BlueSnap.

In Dangelmaier’s view, much of the driving force behind the consolidation to this point can be traced to the pressure retailers are feeling. 

“Every retailer is now trying to be like Amazon – simple checkout, easy delivery. With all the problems that retailers are having today, they’ve really got to innovate and evolve quickly to compete,” he said.

This has in turn put pressure on the retailers’ providers.

“If payment providers are going to support this evolution, they need to be able to integrate more of the tools that these merchants need globally,” Dangelmaier said.

Whether the payment processing behemoths that have arisen from recent mergers will be able to fulfill their promise and meet these needs remains to be seen, he said. Success depends on how well they consolidate the technology they have and what they ultimately bring to the market. But even these companies don’t necessarily hold all the answers on their own.

“I think you’re going to see tons of innovation coming from small to mid-sized businesses,” he said.

“if they’re smart, these bigger companies will actually partner with the smaller nimble companies to get done what they need to get done. So, I think that dynamic is going to change a little bit. I think partnering becomes way more critical.”

For payment facilitators in particular, Dangelmaier expressed concern about whether all of the companies who are becoming PFs are truly prepared.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time when I talk to organizations that become payfacs, they say, ‘it’s great, we’ve embedded the payment.’ That’s kind of the easy part. The hard part is moving the money and balancing every day. And very few people are doing that right,” he said.

The result of this could be PFs facing fraud or issues with their compliance, Dangelmaier said. And, he argues, it could result in large numbers of payment facilitators being rolled up into bigger players.

Ultimately, Dangelmaier believes that being successful in this climate relies on a couple of key factors. The first is deciding who you’re serving, he said, and then once you’ve distinguished your mission, integrating with the proper partners to serve that market. 

“Adyen is serving big cross-border businesses. Stripe is serving small startup businesses. WePay serves ISVs. BlueSnap is out to solve the problems of the middle market. So, I think if you have a mission, that’s how you differentiate yourself, because clients want to be with people like themselves,” he said.