Peter Guidi's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘payment’

Three emerging trends in payment

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Consumer payments will experience accelerated change in 2013. Multiple disruptive and innovative companies, particularly 3rd party app developers and retailer branded mobile solutions, will enter the market to challenge the incumbents. Traditional payment processing networks and financial institutions will struggle to keep pace with nimble, tech savvy competitors. “Payments incumbents will leverage their market power to battle disruptors. MasterCard’s new fee structure for “staged” digital wallet providers such as Google Wallet, PayPal and Square” are an early shot-across-the-bow in a fight that will set the stage for payments over the next decade. The legacy technology managing the current payment processing network will be unable to keep pace as new POS and cloud based programs enable merchants and consumers to pick winners and losers.  Mobile solutions; coupled with low cost alternative payment, in conjunction with retailer funded rewards, will become more abundant, more accessible, and deliver greater value.

The eco-system is changing. A new “Retailer-Consumer-centric” payments paradigm is emerging. The future of the new paradigm will be shaped by three disruptive digital (POS based combined with IP communication) trends:

◾The POS Payments Cloud:  The last 10 years has brought major change to the POS and communications.  Less than 10 years ago the POS was a relatively limited device and communications were slow and arcane, at least by today’s standards.  The traditional legacy payments processing network relies on processors, associations and financial institutions in conjunction with POS vendors and a “heavy” communications systems like the Hughes satellite network to enable electronic payment. Unlike the consumer and their expectations, change within this eco-system is difficult, time consuming and expensive.  POS vendors are setting the slate to disintermediate the traditional network through the introduction of the “payment cloud”. Today’s POS is a powerful device built with open standards capable of supporting a wide range of payment and loyalty solutions. The internet changed the nature of communication allowing low cost, reliable, fast, and secure connectivity. Emerging payment models leverage the combination of POS capability and the internet to disrupt traditional payment economics. “Merchants have a growing set of payment options that do not adhere to the traditional interchange or processing fee model. Some of these options even deliver additional value above and beyond payment processing. As merchants adopt these new payment methods, their expectations will reset and they will expect lower costs and greater value from incumbent payment service providers. Traditional economic models will not disappear overnight, but it would be a mistake for payment incumbents to dismiss the growing number of unique pricing schemes and the disruptors who are moving aggressively to gain scale”. Watch for the emergence of these POS payment platforms in 2013.

◾Mobile Payment: Mobile payment and digital wallets will change the nature of the relationship between the consumer and the retailer. New technology will enable a robust “dialogue” between the consumer and the retailer during the “purchase cycle” allowing the retailer to engage the consumer before, during and after the transaction.  Technology “will drive adoption by integrating capabilities that remove friction and transform the payments and commerce experience in contextually relevant ways. These wallets will embed capabilities that can create a more convenient commerce experience for consumers and give merchants a growing set of potential benefits — that may provide a distinct competitive advantage — to evaluate and weigh against the additional costs of wallet acceptance.”

◾ACH & Merchant Issued Rewards: The advantage merchants have in mobile payment is two-fold. First, merchant control access to their mobile payment environment, they will decide what forms of payment are available to the consumer. Secondly, rewards are the key driver for consumers as they choose their method of payment and rewards are controlled by the merchant.


Low cost alternative payments in conjunction with merchant issued rewards will appeal to a broad base of retailers and consumers. The loyalty industry in the US is significantly more than $10 Billion dollars and growing. Current card acceptance fees are in the two percent range adding up to billions of dollars. Merchants who leverage the combination of these two line items will offer consumers powerful incentives. Clearly, Merchants can have a lot of influence regarding payment choice with this type of spending. “Disruptors are creating better, lower-cost alternative products and services that deliver more value and meet broad-based payment needs.” Retailer services will provide consumers with personal, relevant offers designed to drive a more profitable purchasing experience.  ACH payment will lead the way towards low card acceptance fees. Retailers who recapitalize these fees as consumer rewards will see increased sales and profits.


It will take a few years before we see the full force of this disruption. Retailers will be hesitant to make the technology changes necessary to support the new payments paradigm. Some will wait as end-of-life requirements make change inevitable, others will jump in early and gain leverage in their market.

2013 will be an interesting year for the payments market, what changes do you see in your organization?

The convergence of payment and loyalty programming and the trends influencing consumer payment behavior.

In alternative payment, Bank Tax, credit card, debit card, interchange, loyalty, payment, Payment card on March 30, 2010 at 11:52 am

Confluence is the act of flowing together; the junction of two or more bodies of water; the place of meeting. Like two rivers, convenience store operators navigate both payment and loyalty relationships. The confluence of these two programs is the card and the consumer. Data suggests that retailers can recapitalize “Swipe Fees” as “Rewards” by leveraging consumer’s willingness to participate in loyalty programs and their increased preference to use debit payment.

According to “The Big Sort, 2009 COLLOQUY Loyalty Marketing Census, in 2008, 51 million consumers participated in Fuel/Convenience loyalty programs.  2009 saw the further expansion of loyalty with a number of retailers launching new programs. That same year, 422 million consumers participated in Financial Services loyalty programs (credit/debit rewards). While the convenience store industry was hammered by low margins under onerous interchange fees, financial institutions used up to 45% of the “Swipe fees” to drive their business forward, achieving nearly ten times the number of participants. 

The January 2010 version of “The 2008 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice” published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston reveals data demonstrating consumer’s increased participation in debit rewards programs.

\The two studies point to specific trends that support the confluence of loyalty and payments. Consumers now belong to an average of 14.1 loyalty programs, but only 3.5 credit cards. The average consumer has adopted 5 “Payment Instruments”. More consumers have and use debit cards than credit cards (88.2% vs. 78.3% w/ 208% increased usage). Consumers have more “loyalty” to their debit card than credit card with 27.5% of consumers discarding a credit card, while only 5.9% reported discarding a debit card. The analysis indicates that consumers are more willing to join a loyalty program than a payment program. Further when customers use a card for debit, they are less likely to discard the program making for a double win; more enrollment with less attrition.     

The conclusion is that growth in Fuel/Convenience loyalty programs and increased debit card usage considered in juxtaposition with the high rate of attrition of credit card users suggests that retailers offering debit rewards as a feature in the loyalty program could recapitalize a significant percentage of “Swipe Fees” as consumer rewards resulting in greater consumer loyalty and increased ROI.

Is “Social Justice”, the new rallying cry in the battle over interchange fees? What’s next price controls?

In alternative payment, Bank Tax, credit card, debit card, interchange, loyalty, payment, Payment card on March 18, 2010 at 9:51 pm

 “Pandora opened her jar and unleashed many terrible things on mankind.”

 In February 2010 the Consumers for Competitive Choice (C4CC) released a report called “The Costs of “Charging It” in America” by Shapiro & Vellucci: The report offers a number of conclusions, including the proposition that government regulation of interchange fees is Social Justice. Social Justice is a concept used to describe the movement towards a government regulated socially just world. The report suggests that the economics behind payment platforms, Two-Sided Markets and their inherent “Network Effects” create negative “Regressive Cross-Subsidies”. The suggestion is that interchange fees create a system where the poor pay for the privileges of the rich.

 In a paper written by Bolt & Chakravorti titled “A Review of Payment Card Economics” published in the November 2009 Lydian Payments Journal concluded “There is no consensus among policy makers or economists on what constitutes an efficient fee structure for card payments”. They go on to say “efficiency of payment systems is measured not only by the costs of the resources used, but by the social benefits generated by them”. Shapiro & Vellucci would seem to agree when they add “The current credit card and debit card systems provide valuable services to consumers and merchants and those services involve legitimate costs and therefore prices. Apparently the concept of profit for risk is not in their equation.

Last week a Delaware politician suggested mandating Full-Service Gas as a job creation initiative. Today the NRF urged Senator Dodd to add Interchange reform to the financial services reform bill. The C4CC published report suggests that Interchange Fee Regulation is a morally just cause towards achieving a level of Social Justice. Are retailers ready to see Social Justice added into their margin equation?


“It is not on our agenda this year,” is competition the only option in the battle over interchange?

In alternative payment, Bank Tax, credit card, debit card, interchange, loyalty, payment, Payment card on March 1, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Alexander Woollcott said “Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn’t spend half our time wishing.” The same might be true when considering the high cost of card acceptance and the path to lower Interchange fees.

With eight words, “It is not on our agenda this year,” Barney Frank ended the speculation over H.R. 2382, the Credit Card Interchange Fees Act legislation aimed at regulating interchange fees. Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) explained saying “He (Frank) doesn’t want to necessarily spend time moving things here when there’s been so little response in the Senate,” Merchants are left exhaling with the slim hope that U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) may introduce a bill that seeks to limit interchange fees. It now seems fair to say that the effort to use legislation to control interchange has failed, at least for 2010.

Merchants had pinned their hope for reform on The Merchants Payments Collation’s three pronged strategy, legislation, litigation and competition, to lower card acceptance fees. The question now: is competition the only option in the battle over interchange?


Credit Card acceptance costs expected to increase by summer 2010; is your pool of profit going down the drain?

In alternative payment, Bank Tax, credit card, debit card, interchange, loyalty, payment, Payment card, Uncategorized on February 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm

David Mamet said “The surprise is half the battle. Many things are half the battle, losing is half the battle. Let’s think about what’s the whole battle.”

According to NACS, in 2008, convenience stores sold approximately $414 billion in gasoline sales with the average store selling 118,526 gallons per month. On Monday, (2/23/2010) Yahoo reported the national average for the price of gas at $2.68 per gallon up $.73.1 cents from the same time last year. Fred Rozell, Retail Pricing Director at Oil Price Information Service, is predicting a high of $3.25 for this summer. If Fred is correct, then the retail price on gasoline will have increased $1.33 cents per gallon from the summer of 2009. If that isn’t painful enough, look at the corresponding increase in credit card fees of a little over three cents ($.033) per gallon. 

Cause/effect: If Fred is correct, the average retailer will pay an additional four thousand dollars ($4,000!) in card acceptance costs totaling nearly $9630.009 per month this summer. The impact of these increases will significantly reduce margins on gasoline sales. Is there any doubt this is happening? A quick look at the gasoline balance sheet at $2.65 per gallon shows that retailers are already half way there! 

Where’s the surprise? This summer won’t likely be as painful to the retailer’s pocketbook as the summer of 2005. The difference?; Total demand remains low as the economy continues to suffer while people keep their cars, boat’s and RV’s in the driveway. Without a big increase in demand it’s unlikely that prices will reach the $4.00 range. Reflecting back just a few years ago to when retailers experienced this trend and eventually saw profits disappear the call for change was sounded. 

Robert Shapiro, author of “The Costs of “Charging It” in America: Assessing the Economic Impact of Interchange Fees for Credit Card and Debit Card Transactions” correctly identifies the “Whole Battle” when he says, “credit companies and banks compete with each other by offering large rewards that are financed by fees”, “The competition is driving fees up rather than driving fees down.” 

The Whole Battle is asking how the retailer can compete with Financial Institutions for the consumers “Method of Payment”. This summer will mark another battle won or lost, how will you fight back?


Interchange fees: Obama’s next bank tax target

In alternative payment, Bank Tax, credit card, debit card, interchange, loyalty, payment, Payment card, Uncategorized on January 22, 2010 at 9:40 pm

The law of unintended consequences is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or “unintended.” – Rob Norton, Fortune magazine

Beating up on the banks has a nice populist ring to it and so President Obama tailored this week’s proposed tax on banks to tap into public anger at Wall Street. Retailers’ might be concerned that Members of Congress sitting on the House Financial Services Committee confuse anger with Interchange fees and this populist anger. The White House press secretary would not discuss how a possible bank fee would fit into Obama’s fiscal year 2011, but Retailers can be sure that adding some of that $48 billion dollars in interchange fees to tax revenues will look like an appealing target.  

Meanwhile, in the debate over interchange fees, retailer’s predictions of lower interchange fees, meaning lower consumer prices, clashed with the opinions of those in the financial sectors with dueling articles in both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

2010 will bring high anxiety as congress schedules votes on both H.R 2695 & H.R. 2382. We can only wonder what kind of difference Scott Brown will bring to the debate. Can legislation or litigation succeed and what happens if these efforts fail, is it time to seriously consider competition? What if the Federal Government sees Interchange as a new source of General Funding, how will retailer fight for lower interchange fees if the Federal Government sees them as a source of tax revenue? (

Passing on the savings: Do lower interchange fees mean lower retailer prices for the consumer?

In alternative payment, credit card, debit card, interchange, payment, Payment card, Uncategorized on December 9, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Oscar Wilde once said “There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up”. The same may be true of interchange fees and margins.

This month the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) published a report called “Payment Card Networks under Assault” which makes the case that capping interchange fees will hurt consumers, charities, community banks and credit unions. One of their primary claims is that retailers would not pass on savings from lower interchange fees to consumers. The CEI points to the GAO report which concluded that “consumers may not experience lower prices and retailers could pocket the entire windfall resulting from any reduction in interchange fees”.  Meanwhile, the Consumers for Competitive Choice (C4CC) called for interchange fee reform stating that reform would spur job growth, and as expressed by one President of a 90 store chain who is paying nearly 3.5 million dollars in interchange fees saying: “lower fees would mean lower costs for consumers”.

 Would a retailer pass on savings to consumers if interchange fees where lowered? Here’s another question: Will retailers use discounts to compete with credit card companies for the consumer’s method of payment? And if they do, what methods are available; price roll back for ACH or cash credit pricing? As the ball goes back and forth on this issue, both sides need to be cognizant that Congress is looking for solutions that benefit the consumer. Unless the retailers can demonstrate that they are willing to provide lower retail prices to consumers for less expensive forms of payment, why should Congress believe that consumers will benefit from a cap on interchange fees?  (

Competing for Method of Payment: Recapitalizing Interchange into Rewards Programming.

In alternative payment, credit card, debit card, interchange, payment, Uncategorized on October 15, 2009 at 8:34 pm

When a retailer competes for their consumer’s method of payment (MOP), rewards must be used to motivate the desired behavior. The question: are incentives for payment the same as rewards for purchase and are the results similar? Another question might be; if a retailer is able to recapitalize interchange fees into rewards programming does that represent ROI?

A typical 30 location convenience petroleum retailer spends in the area of $1 million dollars per year on interchange fees. If that retailer captures 10% of that business by re-purposing interchange fees as rewards what is the result of this investment? First the retailer has reduced their interchange expense, but where is the ROI? ROI comes in the same way retailers experience ROI from a loyalty program, frequency and lift. Using incentives, such as gas discounting, to motivate alternative payment will initiate a “loyalty” response.  In other words, these consumers will frequent the store more often and they will purchase more gas with each stop. 

Competing for the consumers MOP requires that the retailer provide an “incentive” for “payment method”, rather than a “reward” for “purchasing “decisions. The consumer’s responses to the programs are similar because both induce loyalty. When competing for the consumers’ MOP the budget to fund the incentive comes from the recapitalization of the Interchange Fees, while the rewards for traditional loyalty programs comes from the retailers gross margin. (

“Taxing” the “Hidden Tax”; will Politicians take aim at interchange as a new source of government revenue?

In alternative payment, credit card, debit card, interchange, payment on October 8, 2009 at 12:37 am

Erwin N. Griswold  said “We have long had death and taxes as the two standards of inevitability. But there are those who believe that death is the preferable of the two.”  At least,” as one man said, “there’s one advantage about death; it doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”  Democratic Representatives Peter Welch of Vermont and Zoe Lofgren of California have sponsored legislation aimed at clamping down on interchange fees.  Enter into this debate a new proposal that suggests the creation of a new “Natural Disaster Trust Fund” funded with what?  You guessed it; a tax on interchange fees.  

If there is anything Congress likes more than the donations of important special interest groups, it’s a new source of revenue. This is the perfect storm for an idea like this; a regulation happy Congress, a huge source of money, conflicting information from two major industries and a compelling need for another major government program.  Improbable you say?  Hardly.