The numerous changes that impact payments will take on an increasingly international bent in the year ahead, as the industry responds to the influence of mobile technology and virtual currency.

For example, mobile payment volume in China topped $5.5 trillion in 2016 — approximately three times the amount of America's $112 billion the same year. Leading the charge are fast-growing fintech companies Alipay and WeChat, which have become so ubiquitous in China that many tourists are finding it difficult to pay for goods and services without the apps.

WeChat logo
Bloomberg News

China boasts the second-largest economy in the world; as such, its move toward mobile payments is an interesting development to keep an eye on. After all, as China inches closer to a cashless economy, other major markets may soon follow suit.

Also, globalization is driving demand for innovative international business solutions.

In the past, international expansion could take a company over a year to execute. Business owners first had to establish foreign connections and partnerships, set up accounts with international banks, and check off a laundry list of additional arduous tasks before launching their international arm.

But as the global economy becomes increasingly interconnected, startups specializing in international tax law, international distribution logistics, and foreign payment fintech solutions have stepped up to the plate to partner with businesses and significantly speed up their efforts to expand across the globe.

The game-changing technology and networks of support that these companies create will only continue to evolve as the market drives their value to global enterprise.

And cryptocurrencies up the ante. Bitcoin's wildly successful debut on the stock market in early December — and subsequent nosedive in early January — has just about everyone talking about cryptocurrencies. Are they the darling of the moment, or do they have staying power? Which will survive the test of time, and which will bite the proverbial dust before the decade is through? Are we facing a future in which everyday purchases might be made in bitcoin, Dash, Litecoin or Ripple?

Time will tell, but at the moment it's fun to think about which outcome you'd put your money on.

In the last month of 2017, we saw bitcoin rock the stock market, Uber rival Go-Jek acquire three fintech startups, and The New York Times highlight the emerging prevalence of cashless businesses in the Big Apple. 2018 promises to bring even more exciting fintech developments — and business owners who keep an eye out for the winds of change greatly increase their odds of benefiting from the bluster.