To paraphrase an old, green Jedi master, complacency is the path to the dark side. Complacency leads to ignorance, ignorance leads to stagnation, stagnation leads to failure.
We live in a time of rapidly evolving global commerce and connectivity. And just as diehard Star Wars fans have meticulously examined the movies, payments experts must study how our industry is changing to survive.
There are four main trends that are driving change in this new galaxy of commerce.
Episode One: The Technology Advances
Technological progress has never been more rapid. Yesterday’s innovations are today’s minimum requirements. Artificial Intelligence was the next big thing not too long ago, and people are now comfortable buying through a personalised C-3PO on their phone. And consider the universal explosion of smartphone wallets and mobile POS over the past few years.
What’s more, a lot of this technology has been democratized. The rise of software-as-a-service and plug-and-play solutions means that anyone can cheaply and easily install a hyperdrive and outrun the Imperial starships.
It’s not enough to just keep up with technological progress anymore – we must be looking for, and defining, what the next big thing is.
Episode Two: Attack of the Consumers
Customer behavior moves with technological change. New innovations set new precedents for what people expect. The next gadget could be the most popular way to pay, and the experience should be seamless and consistent regardless of which device is being used.
Companies like Uber, Amazon, and Airbnb have changed the game by turning payments from a functional step into an integral part of the customer experience – just imagine how innovations like social commerce and gamification could enhance this further.
Today’s cutting-edge technology will influence what customers want. In some cases we may even see the actual payments part of the buying process become as invisible as a Jedi mind trick.
Keeping abreast of how technology changes is one thing, but understanding how consumer expectations shift will be crucial to staying on top. This is as true of the rapidly changing digital landscape of Asian markets as it is of mature markets like Europe and North America.
Episode Three: The Regulators Strike Back
The increasing amount and complexity of regulation is something that affects everyone, from the smallest nerf herder to the largest Alderaanian diplomat. And while regulation is always front of mind, people tend to be uncertain over the practical implications.
New rules need to be interpreted and then applied, which is where confusion can creep in. It’s often a challenge to fully understand the practical implications of new regulations before they arrive.It’s also important to anticipate how regulation will change over time and what factors will be next in line for consideration.
For example, GDPR affects the way organizations utilize customer data and how AI is used to make business decisions. At the same time, regulation can drive innovation, as we’re seeing with the range of new products emerging as a result of Open Banking.
Episode Four: Revenge of the Competition
We used to be in a privileged system. A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, there were only a few businesses able to do what we do. But now the democratization of platforms and technology has lowered the barriers to entry and created more competition than ever before.
The startup boom has changed how we think about business models, too. A farmer from Tatooine in an X-wing can bring down the Galactic Empire with a well-placed shot. When everyone wants a piece of the action, and competition can come from any direction, companies must get smarter about how they differentiate.
A New Hope
The new galaxy of commerce is fast-paced and highly competitive. That’s what makes it so exciting – we have to stay on our toes and stay ambitious. It’s not enough to focus on just one thing.
We need to look at the bigger picture and always be aware of the Force(s) shaping our industry. It’s not enough to just think about it, either, we’re at the point where you must disrupt or be disrupted.
As that old Jedi said, there is no try.