Presented by Wirecard

Payments. It’s a largely invisible component of any business, but it is arguably the most important. Moving money back and forth between a business and its vendors, employees, and customers scaffolds the whole operation. And it’s an opportunity to provide integrated solutions and strengthen companies during their digital transformation.

It also means we get to play in a dynamic space that includes continuous change in technology and regulation — not an easy task to stay on top of. With the increasing volume and diversity of payment methods in live commerce, ecommerce and mobile commerce, the complexity has only increased. And so has the potential to bring the future of retail to life by tapping into the data produced by all those transactions.

Anytime you make a payment — at the deli, online — it generates a ton of data. At the payments level, it includes purchase amount, location, date, and time. Because it’s pretty mundane information, until recently almost none of it was used — it was simply exhaust. But as we all know, information has become extremely valuable, and we’re turning our wheels to come up with new ways to use it.

Because this data is not terrifically useful on its own, a merchant will get a lot more bang for their buck when they combine payment data with more granular store-level data, which includes information about individual consumer profiles, spending patterns, and how inventory moves.

The raw data from a single POS terminal or even a single merchant’s ecommerce site isn’t big data, either — it’s just a lot of data. A single merchant is unlikely to ever amass the amount and variety to deal in big data.

Combining raw data with the insights and expertise of a payments expert, however, could possibly get there. If the payments facilitator had a large and diverse enough merchant client base — representing a truly global presence — along with the tech resources to handle all that data and the creative culture to mine new consumer benefits from it, they could achieve a kind of data superfecta. Let’s unpack that and see what it might look like.

Harnessing data

In 2016, there were 144 billion non-cash payments in the U.S. alone — that’s almost 16.5 million transactions per hour. If a single paytech had clients that accounted for even a fraction of that volume, it could generate enough payment data to start making useful predictions that would apply not only to individual clients but to the ecosystem as a whole. It would also need the agility to handle the speed at which that data is produced and dedicate the resources to purposeful data mining.

Innovating on a global stage

Large-scale innovation would come from a payments expert that provides a holistic digital payment ecosystem that supports the commercial success of small, medium, and large customers all around the world.

What’s next?

If a payments provider were to achieve big-data-level capacity, what would they do with it? Could they develop a wearable with multilayered biometric security features that combines loyalty programs, P2P payments, and bank information in a single app?

We can, and we are, incrementally. Today Wirecard has more than 31,000 large-scale and medium-sized clients who rely on digital services including digital payment methods, risk management solutions based on machine learning technology, real-time payment processing, and apps with digital cards for mobile payments and banking.

We’re coming up with better ways to spot and respond to red flags sooner and improve the end consumer’s experience. We’re working on new ways to safely collect the most useful customer information so we can help clients operate more efficiently. So far, we’re in sync with retailers: In Innovative Retail Technologies’ annual report, 55 percent of survey participants were “actively investing in omnichannel systems and technologies“.

As the payments industry becomes less like scaffolding around a closed system and more like a conduit flowing through an open one, we can put more energy into anticipating needs and innovating solutions before problems even arise. Admittedly, it’s a different model for the payments industry — and the one that will empower merchants and consumers to move money in our increasingly fluid and digital world.

Kevin Brown is Vice President of Marketing and Product at Wirecard North America.

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