Valerie Soranno Keating, chief executive at Barclaycard, is confident in the issuer's place in the market even as many agile startups creep into her company's turf.
"Consumers trust and therefore want to use existing payments companies as their primary provider," she said. "This is why many new innovations in payments choose to ride on the existing rails and infrastructure leveraging familiar networks and the major payments schemes to facilitate new payment forms."
Startups benefit by using the existing infrastructure, which enables them to scale quickly. This reliance on the existing technology provides an opportunity for large issuers to get involved with the industry's newest entrants.
"Traditionally payment companies emerged as sub-sets of broader financial services businesses," Soranno Keating said. "Over the last ten years we have seen the emergence of more 'first generation' payments businesses organizations whose sole rationale has been to operate in the payments space."
This trend has also been beneficial in promoting innovation, especially through open platforms that don't require a tie-in to a particular financial institution, she said.
Because of this explosion of payments tech, the biggest challenge in 2015 will be separating the payment "signal" from the "noise," Soranno Keating said. Barclaycard is deliberating on that as it looks for companies to partner with and areas to innovate.
"It's important that we do not allow the dynamic nature of the industry to overwhelm participants and merchants," said Soranno Keating. "We need to offer a coherent narrative to consumers and merchants alike, and this is going to require a clear articulation of the benefits payment innovations bring to all parties."
Based on Barclaycard's success, the subsidiary of Barclays PLC is doing it right. Barclaycard doubled its pre-tax profits over the past three years. In May last year, the bank explicitly highlighted the growing Barclaycard as a priority for investment and expansion, said Soranno Keating, who was also recognized previously as one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments and American Banker Magazine's Most Powerful Women in Finance.
"We see many opportunities to grow Barclaycard through a combination of organic and inorganic opportunities within our existing markets and businesses," she said.
Barclaycard and its parent company have built a number of innovative payment methods, including unique wearable payments products. In July for the British Summer Time music festival, Barclays began piloting the bPay contactless payments wristband. Shortly after, Barclaycard strapped a contactless payment reader to the saddle of a donkey. And in an effort to adapt to the chilly winter months, in December Barclaycard created contactless payment-enabled gloves.
"Payments are also becoming embedded as part of the purchase journey, necessitating collaboration with partners and suppliers to deliver the optimal shopping experience, Soranno Keating said.
But the bank must tread carefully and continue to look inward as regulators are unlikely to ease up this year.
"Over the next year extensive regulation, particularly around issues such as European interchange, will be implemented across the payments industry," said Soranno Keating.
And to keep it together in the midst of massive change and regulation, Soranno Keating said, it's important to keep employees engaged and in tune with the bank's trajectory.
One of the most important developments has been the "democratization" of the work force, said Soranno Keating.
"We've seen strong female leaders emerge in all areas of modern life in recent years, creating inspirational role models for the generations that have followed," she said. "Women are encouraged to aim for the top, and they are increasingly successful in achieving these ambitions."