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Setting the Table for Success in the New World of Merchant Payments

Merchant Payments Breakfast Forum Sydney

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, creating a payments journey for your customers was as simple as calling your bank, choosing from one of two (maybe three) terminal types that would enable your business to accept mag stripe cards. And then perhaps deciding whether to offer your customers American Express acceptance.

How things have changed!

The pace of this change was brilliantly encapsulated recently at ACI’s first Merchant Payments Breakfast Forum, which took place in Sydney. Payments professionals, representing more than 40 of Australia’s leading merchant retailers, gathered to hear from ACI experts – and to discuss with each other – how the payments journey has changed and what merchants need to do to succeed in this new world of retail payments.

John Gessau (ACI’s Product Management Lead for Merchant Payment Solutions) opened the forum with an enlightening TED-style presentation on the evolving role that payments play within the customer experience. What really struck a chord with me were his examples of ‘seamless’ and ‘right-sized friction’ payments through demonstrations of virtual gift cards, alternate payments, QR codes and queue-busting technology. One of the key points was that perhaps a completely frictionless payment experience isn’t what every merchant is actually looking for. In the emerging IoT (Internet of Things) and voice control assistants’ world, do we really want our fridge ordering a new case of beer without first asking us for confirmation?

John concluded by challenging merchant retailers to dream big and devise the ultimate payments experience in accordance to their own customers’ expectations. In order for this to happen, it is up to payment providers (ACI Worldwide included) to provide the rock-solid payments infrastructure as well as the flexibility that can turn these big dreams into reality.

Dhun Karai, Payments Advisory Leader at Grant Thornton, was also on hand to share her extensive experience and help the audience understand the rapidly shifting landscape of new payments players.

There were a few ‘mega trends’ in particular that really got the forum attendees' attention, worth repeating here as they are will be relevant for merchant retailers globally:

  • Mobile Apps are killing the counter-top checkouts: Will PIN on glass be the end of dedicated POS devices?
  • Uniformity across physical and online channels: The future is unified payments, one customer view of all payments no matter what device is used.
  • Invisible payments: Confirming payment through behavior such as ordering an Uber is a brilliant customer experience, and sets the new ‘unicorns’ apart from legacy businesses.
  • Data analytics and privacy: Data analytics are core to payments strategy but how will privacy standards affect the ability of businesses to utilize data.
  • Faster real-time, data-rich transactions in retail payments: How will the schemes respond to real-time immediate payments in the retail environment?

Dhun also highlighted that the five biggest ‘Unicorns’ (amazon, Alibaba, Airbnb, Uber and WeChat) have all revolutionized customer engagement by taking control of the payments journey. All her examples showed how the payments experience was at the heart of the products – and incredible growth is the result.

One thing was clear by the end – there is simply no place for a painful checkout experience in your customer experience. Oh, and that the future is voice control! Perhaps I am just a payments nerd, but it’s events like this that really bring home what an exciting industry we all work in. The rapid growth and advancement in technology, the passion of today’s retailers and the possibilities for the future of payments are more profound than ever.

I will see you at the next ACI Worldwide Payments Breakfast Forum, for more #paymentsforbreakfast


Want to read more about how retailers make payments pay? Download our Payments Playbook For Multi-Channel Executives: