Cheap travel and social media continue to connect people all over the world. Companies focusing on e-commerce and payments gateways could see success as the world becomes more globalized by helping merchants handle payments from those who want to spend beyond their borders.
Recently Payelp Global, which provides an e-commerce platform that allows merchants to support an array of different payment methods, partnered with SafetyPay to expand those options. Through SafetyPay, customers with an online bank account can use that account to make online purchases in their local currency.
The system is designed to overcome the limitations of country-specific digital wallets and conventional payment cards.
"We're trying to globalize business through the Internet," says Albert Donahue, Payelp's CEO. The companies system "connects all countries into one global network."
This gives companies like Payelp some job security, since cash and cards won't perish anytime soon even though mobile payments are at the forefront of the discussion today, says Alex Kwiatkowski, a research manager at IDC Financial Insights.
Wallaby, a MuckerLab-backed startup, operates on a smaller scale. Users register all their payment cards in the smartphone app. When a user pays with Wallaby, the app chooses which card to use to get the most rewards.
"It's about being pragmatic and avoiding the gold rush," Kwiatkowski says. In mobile payments, many companies risk the same fate as prospectors in the California gold rush, where "a lot of prospectors came away with nothing," he says.
Companies should have a broad strategy, because mobile payments will not vanquish the benefits of cash and cards in some cases, he says.
"Whereas 10 to 20 years ago the idea of ordering something from overseas was something that felt like a 'wow' moment, now it's become very de facto," Kwiatkowski says.
Online transactions provide merchants a way to tap into new markets without the expense of hiring new representatives, says Peter Caparso, president of Adyen North America.
Adyen is another global payments provider that provides its merchant clients with more than 100 payment methods across North and South America, Europe and Asia. Recently Adyen launched a portable mobile card reader to support both EMV chip cards and mag-stripe cards.
"There's an appetite for goods across borders," Caparso says.
Consumers today "make international payments that look and feel like they're buying from a store down the road or ordering from a local merchant," Kwiatkowski says. "The planet hasn't gotten any smaller in circumference but it certainly feels like it's getting smaller in terms of commerce."
Companies like Payelp and Adyen allow merchants to accept any type of payment without adding friction for the shopper. Consumers pay with their preferred method while payments gateways convert the currency.
"At this point there is one global currency — there's one major currency that we're calling electronic currency," Donahue says. "Currency politics isn't going to change but all these currencies will be optimized into electronic money."
But as the rise of debit shows, successful new payment methods don't completely eliminate older ones such as cash and coin, says Kwiatkowski.