Relationships, by nature, are complicated. And the payments world is no different. We have codependency issues, monogamy issues and even a fluctuating divorce rate. So when it comes to the payment facilitator model, is it better to commit yourself to one processor? Or is it better to play the field with a more agnostic gateway?

PF WORLD 2019 examined this issue with a panel of “relationship experts,” so to speak, from companies including Very Good Solutions (VGS), BridgePay, Poynt and ScanSource. Moderated by Infinicept CEO and Founder Todd Ablowitz, panelists discussed the PF journey in terms of when to date and when to marry – what is the best option for you and your business?

The speakers pointed out pros and cons of both approaches. For many startup PFs, the idea of having one single point of contact to manage everything from reporting, chargeback management, tokenization and the like can be a very tempting proposal. Ultimately, it’s easier. On the flipside, the dating option that gateways provide offers a more flexible approach, but it’s also more complex. 

VGS Co-Founder and CEO Mahmoud Abdelkader tends to favor the dating approach: “I think the dating versus marriage problem is if you’re dating, you can always plug in your version of whatever it is that you’re purchasing, rather than being married and then having to divorce, which is a very costly solution,” he said.

And what about from the perspective of your customers? BridgePay Chief Revenue Officer Carlee Hudachko scores another point for the dating approach here: “You also look at scalability and the number of merchants that you have as being a PF. You’re dealing with hundreds, thousands of merchants and not everyone is going to want to deal with that same processor, so you need to definitely have that flexibility,” she said. 

Having the ability to utilize various different products and not being locked into just one provider for all your services can clearly be a big win for PFs. But what about building versus buying when it comes to establishing your platform? How doable is it to own your payments future, and where do you draw the line between letting someone do everything for you and trying to do everything yourself?

When it comes to owning your future in the world of payments, a recurring concern seems to be upkeep. “One of the main things people forget about is hardware acquisition, software upkeep, keys upkeep and all those things,” explained Brandon Audisio, senior product engineer for ScanSource. 

“The main thing you’re looking to do is differentiate your product, your software solution, to the field. And one of the things I’ve seen myself over the years in this industry is [PFs] don’t pay enough attention to things like troubleshooting, how do I get my software updated, how do I maintain compliance, things of that nature.”

And finally, when discussing building out your own infrastructure versus allowing someone else to do everything for you, Poynt General Manager Vinny Breault seemed optimistic about using solutions from multiple providers: 

“I think as technology increases and as we connect our partnerships more and more, that’s essentially your own risk solution in-house, so you don’t have to build your own risk team (a big and costly part of the equation). As long as you have the right partners that are able to scale and are flexible in their infrastructure, I think it’s possible and I think you can do it fairly quick,” he said.