This content is sponsored by Infinicept.
Todd Ablowitz, founder and CEO, Infinicept
You might say that, in the payments business, last year was the year of M&A. Some of the biggest names in the payments industry acquired integrated payments capability, resulting in some interesting and significant combinations.
But as Rick Oglesby told PaymentFacilitator.com at the time, Cayan, which was acquired by TSYS, was one of the “largest and most differentiated companies” left to absorb.
With few logical businesses left for processors to gobble up, what happens next in this active space? Does the consolidation that happened last year mean that integrated payments are now essentially solved?
I’ve heard some industry watchers predicting more consolidation among the smaller players. After all, if you want to incorporate payments into your B2B software, you now have a few key players to turn to, making it harder for the smaller players to compete for market share.
And as a Let’s Talk Payments article, which pointed to data saying that more than 1,500 startups are operating in this space, asked last fall, how many fintech providers are really needed?
I don’t agree with this line of thinking. Instead, I’m going to go out on a limb and declare this the “Year of the Payment Facilitator.”
A limited choice of generalized payments providers isn’t what’s needed. That notion doesn’t take the factors that have given rise to hundreds of startups into account.
What I’m seeing is the beginning of a wave of software providers who cater to the unique needs of their target vertical, who are realizing that integrating payments into their software allows them to manage the entire customer experience and differentiate themselves from other providers.
Aided by this direct connection to their customers, these companies are expanding the market itself – bringing in new merchants who haven’t accepted electronic payments before.
And sure, the software companies could partner with those bigger guys and turn the payments processing (and associated revenue) over to them, and many of them will – particularly the smaller ones.
But as they grow, many of them will reach a tipping point where taking the payments piece in-house makes financial sense. They’ll realize they’re missing out on a significant chunk of revenue by turning the responsibility over to a third party.
They’ll also realize they have fewer barriers to entering the payments space than they’ve been led to believe.
Those who have been told that the risk is just too great will take a harder look at what amounts to a myth. After all, part of the beauty of the payment facilitator model is the fact that in many cases, these companies aren’t taking payments for just anybody. They know their customers and have deep access to those customers’ data.
Of course, the risk must be managed. Becoming a payment facilitator requires software providers to underwrite and monitor merchants to be sure they’re on the up-and-up. It requires a certain scale that enables the provider to handle some of the operations internally.
But new payment facilitators are not starting from scratch anymore. New software tools and specialized experts have risen to meet the space, making processor integration and managing the subsequent responsibilities much easier than it used to be.
These companies are just at the surface, starting to bubble up. And as this trend continues on its current path, more industry watchers will come to realize that the payments business is not just big players trying to get bigger as they jockey to grow their slice of the pie. These companies are doing something much more interesting – they’re leading a revolution that is growing the pie itself.
Todd Ablowitz is founder and CEO of Infinicept, as well as CEO of consulting firm Double Diamond Group. He is also publisher of PaymentFacilitator.com.
Infinicept is a technology company focused on providing an innovative, turnkey payments platform for payment facilitators. The system, colloquially called Payment Facilitator in a Box™, is a fully integrated suite of components that make it possible for Payment Facilitators to get up and running in weeks, not years.
The platform includes frictionless merchant acceptance, underwriting, boarding and back office operations for the payment facilitator marketplace that is expected to top $4.4 billion by 2021. The platform is a series of automated modules that can be adapted to any vertical market. Its unique, agnostic framework allows payment facilitators to easily integrate their platform with any sponsor, processor, gateway and CRM without starting from scratch.