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Payments Execs View Data as the Compass for Navigating Uncertain Times

April 16, 2024

“The only thing we can count on is uncertainty,” Albert Einstein once observed.

And while the statement is universal, and applies to pretty much any endeavor in life, uncertainty is an ongoing hallmark in business — especially in the payments realm. 

The past four years are proof positive. A pandemic sent us all home, sent us all online, and forced merchants and financial services providers to rethink their digital footprints or establish them in a hurry. The stressors to the supply chains stretching around the globe might have been scarcely imagined until they were real, front and center.  

And now, with the pandemic behind us, uncertainty still reigns, though the issues confronting business leaders are different than the ones noted above. Inflation is stubbornly entrenched. We’re running at about 3+%, as of this writing, below the 9% peak notched a few years ago.  

But even at these levels, and rate cuts seemingly an if rather than when from the Fed, planning is as tough as ever. Input costs are higher; consumer spending looks vulnerable and volatile. The ultimate casualties might be corporate top-line momentum and margins. Consumer card delinquencies are rising, signaling stress in the paycheck-to-paycheck economy.

For banks and FinTechs, there’s the added wild card of regulatory uncertainty. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has sought to cap interchange and late fees for credit cards, which might eat into revenue streams. FinTechs are coming under greater scrutiny in terms of risks and vulnerabilities regarding how they handle customer information.  

Artificial intelligence may have been a buzz “concept” only a few years ago — but now it’s promising to shake up all businesses, large and small. It can be thought of as a tool for competitive advantage — and also a tool with which fraudsters can prey on unwitting victims.

Gathering Insights and Crafting Strategies

None of this is to suggest that executives must fly blind, so to speak, and simply be reactive to changes in the competitive, regulatory and global landscapes.  

All corporate actions, interactions, engagements, strategies and transactions yield data. The right technologies will leverage that data, collecting raw information and spinning it into something more than a set of metrics.  

Data, as 18 payments industry executives told us for our Q1 eBook, “The Implications of Uncertainty,” is what gives insight, in real time, to what’s working and what’s not. Data helps pinpoint where fraud is forming, uncovering anomalous transactions before new attacks become successful.

Data can help payment service providers route payments across borders, time zones and currencies in the most streamlined (and cost-effective) manner. Information, delivered in real time, can and will help financial institutions and FinTechs embrace faster payments and deliver innovations more quickly, fine-tuned to their end market expectations.

The executives who offer up their advice and observations in this eBook noted that data models are likely to be pervasive across organizations, used to segment and examine their existing customers’ changing tastes and where new customers — and markets — might be considered for future growth.

Insight is part of strategy, they noted, and strategy recognizes both opportunities and challenges — and transforms challenges into opportunities.

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