The U.S. merchant acquirer-processor arena is so mature that the only dramatic gains typically come from consolidation, leading to even more formidable combinations that make the next phase of growth even tougher. But there are also opportunities for companies that know how to specialize.
It's difficult for acquirers to have the proper payments technology available when merchant interest peaks. This is even more difficult as efforts such as Smart Cities and Internet of Things initiatives overwhelm retailers with options.
ISOs and agents have a firm hold on selling payment terminals, but that's not where the real action is. Today, merchant acquiring is about tying payments to things such as advertising, marketing and loyalty programs.
The promise of faster EMV technology is a welcome reprieve for many ISOs who have grown weary of listening to merchants gripe about the snail's pace of chip card transactions. That reprieve, however, may not be so quick in coming.