Do you remember playing “The Game of Life” as a kid? It’s a board game that depicts a person’s experiences as he or she travels though different stages of life. You start by choosing your initial life path – College or Career – then with the spin of a spinner, your game piece may land on a space that gets you married, earns you a million dollars, gives you twins, makes you bankrupt, etc.

Although there are decision points along the way, you can’t go back to choose a different life path. You’re pretty much stuck with wherever the spinner number takes you. There are a few different end-points to the game, one of which was Millionaire Estates. Most of us wanted to land there.

The Game of Integrated Payments

Parallels to Integrated Payments

We can draw a couple of parallels when it comes to integrating payments in your software:

  1. Your decision of which path to pursue in the beginning – multiple payment provider environment or preferred payment provider environment – has a direct impact on your experience
  2. Most of us would like to end up at Millionaire Estates

That’s where the parallels pretty much end. Unlike the board game Life, your specific experience isn’t tied to a number on the spinner or the roll of dice. If you don’t like the space you’ve landed on, don’t stay there. You have complete control to jump off your current path and pursue an alternative.

Playing the Integrated Payments Game in Real Life

Recently, Wind River created an Integrated Payments Game, its own version of The Game of Life, where you move along to different experiences on your chosen path. While it was meant to be a fun visual, it is realistic and is based on actual stories that different software providers have shared with us.

I’d like to expound upon the different integrated payment experiences over the course of the next few blog posts. Today, we’ll start at the beginning – making that initial decision.

Choosing Your Initial Path Wisely

When playing the Life board game, you can see the specific experiences that lay ahead on each path, so making that initial choice becomes much easier. The same concept applies with the Integrated Payments Game. Using our game board, you can get a glimpse of what experiences may lie ahead for you on a given path. It just might make your initial decision a little easier.

If You Choose the Multiple Payment Provider Path

Giving customers the option of choosing whichever payment provider they want always sounds like a good idea. It may appear to be the most customer-friendly thing to do. The reality is that it often ends up as a disservice to customers from a pricing perspective and a support perspective. You won’t have any control of either, yet a negative customer payments experience will reflect poorly on you and your software.

Costly to Develop

In addition to having no control of your customers’ pricing and service experience, costs to you can quickly mount. Whatever your internal development costs are for integration, multiply that amount by the number of providers you will support through your platform. You’ll want to grab a calculator as the amount gets pretty big, really fast. Conversely, if you multiply your development costs by a single, preferred provider, they become much more manageable.

Cookie Cutter Capabilities

Looking ahead on the multiple provider path, your next stop will be to roll-out a cookie-cutter payment solution. If cookie cutter is all your customers require, that’s fine. But what if your customers have special payment requirements that are not a part of their chosen provider’s general solution? Often just one special requirement can mean big customization fees that you may or may not be able to pass along.

Time and again we find that attempting to wedge customers’ needs into a provider’s cookie cutter mold leaves many needs unmet and just sitting on the table.

The way to deliver the optimal payment solution to your customers is to partner with a provider that will mold the solution to fit their needs – without tacking on a bunch of pricey customization charges. The last part of that sentence is key. You can have any capability you want with pretty much any provider you want, it’s all a matter of whether you have to pay hefty fees to get it.

Taking Charge of Your Costs

Look ahead on the Integrated Payments Game board, and you’ll see the costs of supporting a multiple provider environment continuing to accumulate. The good news is if you find yourself on a path that is mired with cost after cost, it’s not too late to make the leap to the alternative. We’ve been working with many software companies lately that have found they could no longer afford to support a multi-provider environment and are making the move.

Or, you may choose to stay where you are and roll the dice on expenses. But I’m pretty sure the priciest path won’t lead to Millionaire Estates any time soon.

Check out part two of our breakdown of the integrated payments track, service and support.