At the end of April, a few members of the Wind River team (including this technology veteran/payment newbie) were able to attend the TRANSACT 2019 conference in Las Vegas. TRANSACT is put together by the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) and is meant as an opportunity for those in the industry to come together and discuss the future of payments technology. Attendees usually include everyone from ISOs (like Wind River) to ISVs and large financial institutions to small tech start-ups.

Over the course of three days, I was able to walk the show floor and attend a few sessions and panel discussions. My goal was to learn as much as possible to help Wind River’s merchants provide the best value to their customers. Despite feeling exactly what I expect every fanboy feels while walking the halls of CES in Vegas, I was able to somewhat bypass the casino distractions and learn a few things while I was there.

TRANSACT 2019 Entrance

We are in a time of significant change in the payments space. New technology is being introduced at such a rapid pace that the traditional ways of taking payments is changing almost overnight. There is a melding going on between payment companies (ISOs) and software/technology companies (ISVs) that will continue for quite some time. We are seeing that Card Not Present (CNP) payment channels are increasingly driven by ecommerce. In addition, over 50% of payments are now coming from non-card brands such as digital wallets and other applications. It’s about driving a better user experience around payment acceptance. Discussions surrounding software and payments companies working together dominated the conference. Let me highlight a few items:

1. 1+1=3

Boy, did I miss something in school. What I’m seeing is that ISOs and ISVs need each other, AND when they work WELL together, they create a differentiated value for customers. I attended one session about Navigating the Payment Ecosystem that discussed when partnering with the right ISO, ISVs can expect to see customers stay with them 3x longer and increase net revenue by 25%. Now who doesn’t want that? But is it easier said than done? It’s easier than you may think.

What it really comes down to is finding the right partner (wink, wink, nudge, nudge – Wind River). For example, Wind River’s PCI expertise can help improve security for your customers, which in turn is a driver for them to stay with you. That’s just one example. A lot of the things that come up are situational. With the right partner though, it doesn’t matter. You become more than the sum of your parts when you work together. The key is creating the right value with payments and technology to create a unique experience for customers.

2. CNP, bps, Interchange?!? K.I.S.S.

Payments has been and will continue to be a very complex industry. There is no owner’s manual to navigate this space. Fortunately for myself, I went to ETA with some of Wind River’s veteran payment experts in Dan DeBraal and Dennis Driver, who are payment legends in my book. As a software technologist, it was amazing to watch these two navigate this conference and network with their vast connections.Seeing Dan and Dennis in action just reinforces how important it is for ISVs to partner with the right payments partner. Software companies don’t need to understand all of the acronyms. This doesn’t need to be your wheelhouse. What you do need is the right partner to help you navigate this ocean of complexity. Simplicity is the new black, and companies like Wind River can help you keep it simple. Plus, I’m fully confident in saying we have the best payment knowledge in the Midwest. Come challenge us!

3. Money, Money, Mo-neeeeeey!

As I was attending various sessions, I was just checking the types of questions. And it seems like the majority of questions raised were somehow tied to money and increasing revenue. For example, I heard, “How can we think in terms of what can we do for top-line revenue?” and “How can we monetize our software?” A lot of ISVs were talking money and how they can leverage their platform as a revenue driver. To me, I was shocked to find how many software providers were missing the boat on their biggest opportunity for revenue growth. Payments! Most of their platforms were already accepting payments within their software, but not many were actually using this to their advantage.

4. Bonus Observation – What’s the Next EMV or Contactless?

Disruption in the industry comes from the sheer amount of new whiz bang technologies that are being introduced, and if anything – disruption is continuous. It wasn’t that long ago that EMV and contactless technology changed the game. It’s only a matter of time before the next big disruption hits.In the meantime, every software company is trying to ease the experience around onboarding, reporting, analytics, underwriting, security and most importantly – a simpler user experience. Companies have more access to new tools, APIs and technology than ever before. This of course leads to the question of, in a world of such complexity, who should you use when integrating payments. See point #2 😊

Mandalay Bay TRANSACT 2019

Well, there you have it. I’m back from Vegas a few bucks lighter but way more knowledgeable and connected. One disruptive idea I have going right now is the drone ATM for those who don’t want to leave the house while watching how the writers are butchering Game of Thrones. If you want to have a chat about anything else, I just mentioned above, feel free to reach out or better yet, ask for Dan or Dennis. They are two amazing payment experts we have had on staff for the last 20 years.