The world of payments has, of late, become like a sharks feeding frenzy. Blood in the water... well money.
There are new announcements being made daily. New partnerships. New programme launches. New approaches and technological innovations. New cool apps and payment devices. So many “disruptive” propositions.
It’s wonderful and yet it is also confusing. Even for someone focused on payments for a living, it’s hard enough to keep up. Yet think about the poor consumer and even poorer merchant. Never mind trying to regulate all of this.
I see the list of payment methods growing and growing at an alarming pace. It used to be just paper cheques, but since the introduction of electronic money – the whole world has changed.
Trying to support all of these methods takes so much time, effort and money. Yet margins are constantly being squeezed in an increasingly competitive space. The only way merchants can realistically make money is through massive volume.
I can’t help thinking that something has got to give.
At some point we need to go from divergence to convergence.
We must surely be coming close to the point where merchants will say “enough already – I’m not supporting another one”.
Before the card schemes would have regulated and tried to standardise all of this – as they did with EMV. Now, they too are being challenged and it looks like all they can do is to try to get a piece of the action.
So if the card schemes won’t regulate and standardise – who will? The governments? They seem to have enough on their hands dealing with their respective economies.
Yet it does need some control as it is getting out of control. Who will step forward? Perhaps the merchants themselves need to group together and impose some control over this.
Until then, spare a thought for the poor consumer and poor merchant whilst the sharks circle around them in these red waters.