LAS VEGAS--A new order is emerging in the payments industry, and ISOs have a place in it.
Thats the verdict of three keynote speakers here at Transact 14, the 24-year-old Electronic Transactions Association trade show that got a new name this year.
The keynoters agreed that mobile devices, sophisticated point of sale systems and a broad approach to commerce are replacing plastic cards, payments terminals and unadorned transaction processing.
The future belongs to mobile payments, but no one knows which of todays many technical approaches will dominate, according to one speaker, Bill Sheedy, Visas executive vice president, corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, government relations and Europe.
The consumer hasnt yet spoken, Sheedy told the crowd in a cavernous meeting room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
But the public seems likely to learn about their options and pick the ones that provide real benefits because of what Sheedy sees as the changing nature of payments.
Payments are cool, he told the crowd, noting that ETA gatherings used to seem like sales meetings but now bring together technical experts and savvy investors.
And payments could become even cooler if Visa has its way, Sheedy seemed to say, promising several times during his talk that his company would announce new directions in the coming weeks.
Though those references remained veiled, he had plenty say about security and regulation.
The payments industry not only has to protect data but also explain that protection to consumers and government officials, Sheedy said.
If were not crystal clear on this, well run the risk of regulators and legislators making our decisions for us, he warned.
Visa plans to help ISOs deliver the security message to small merchants, Sheedy promised. It was one of several comments he made on the importance of acquirers.
Its all about facilitating payments, and you are in the forefront of that, he told attendees. You are not going to see us compete with you. Were here to empower you.
Empowering others comes first and profits follow, according to another keynote speaker, Ariel Bardin, vice president of product management for Google Payments.
That idea of bringing benefits to other companies can take the form of helping merchants convert shoppers into purchasers, Bardin says. Google has helped Rue LaLa achieve four times its previous conversion rate, and it has aided Priceline.com in improving its rate by 71%.
Google helps achieves those advances by simplifying the purchasing process for consumers with such aids as Buy with Google, which replaces tedious online forms with a single click.
The company also helps consumers manage their online purchases by tracking them and posting the data in a single location. It shows them where they can buy merchandise close to home. When shoppers enter a store, it can remind them they have a loyalty card there and make them a special offer.
Google Shopping Express, which enables consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area to order merchandise and have it delivered the same day, could become more widely available, Bardin said.
Those services are helping to blur the line between life online and offline, he told the audience.
And theyre part of the growing pie of mobile commerce, Bardin noted. As consumers become increasingly connected with the internet and continue to move that connectivity to mobile devices, companies can increase their mobile profits without stealing from one another.
The shift to mobile devices is among the factors making this an era of profound change, according to another keynote speaker, Paul Galant, VeriFone CEO.
There are some serious growing pains, Galant said, noting that many of todays business models wont prove sustainable.
But thats expected in the early stages of change in an industry thats shifting from cards and terminals to smartphones and sophisticated POS systems, he said.
Meanwhile, the convergence of payments and big data is making the industry exciting, he maintained.
One challenge that comes with that combination lies with the task of making offline shopping in stores as rewarding as online shopping that includes advice, reviews and comparisons, Galant said.
Consumers welcome shopping assistance on their mobile devices as long as they find it genuinely useful and dont perceive it as spam, he told assemblage.
Loyalty schemes that link gasoline purchases at a single station to rewards in just one supermarket just arent broad enough, Galant said. Instead, consumers want to buy gas wherever its convenient and reap the rewards at any grocery that suits their fancy.
The latter requires lots of data, but the potential already exists and the potential rewards are great, he noted.
More people have mobile devices than have relationships with banks, illustrating the possible reach of mobile commerce, Galant said.
Some 55% of Americans want to pay with their phones, but that increases to 70% among Millennials, the generation born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, he emphasized.
The cloud affords the capability to manipulate enough data to create meaningful offers to individual consumers, and 60% of the public expresses a willingness to share their information if it brings them better offers from retailers, Galant told the crowd.
VeriFone intends to help lead the industry into the new era, and it is overcoming internal problems that included alleged violations of economic sanctions against Iran, he said.
We must become a better partner, Gallant said. You will see and feel it moving forward.