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DT, August 2017

It’s August. Here’s Why It Is Time for the Annual Buyers’ Guide
August 1, 2017

How often do you pause to reflect on the pace of change in the electronic-payments business? Yes, we’re all quite busy, so such moments are rare. But they are instructive.

A couple of decades ago, the notion of paying merchants with a debit card linked to a checking account and secured with a PIN had been commercialized but was still rolling out across the land. Banks and payments networks were just starting to talk about standards for what were called “smart cards.” Mobile phones were primitive devices capable of voice communication only. Clothes were something you wore. Cars had to be driven by people.

Twenty years later, what do we find in the headlines? PIN debit is so established it doesn’t make headlines except in the context of EMV chip cards and the eternal battle over transaction routing. Speaking of EMV, that’s the new lingo for smart cards, and it’s steadily spreading across the U.S., albeit not without some controversy. Mobile phones are making payments in stores and in apps these days. Do people still talk on them? Clothes and cars? They’re part of the Internet of Things, which means they can make payments, too. And it looks like cars aren’t going to need a driver much longer.

Now, 20 years might seem like a long time. But in the scheme of things, it’s like a blink of the eye. Here’s something else to consider: Not only have we witnessed sweeping change in this industry, but that change is being born every day. That means the challenge is two-fold: figuring out which embryonic development will amount to something, and which will die aborning; and just keeping ahead of that tide of change.

That’s where this August 2017 issue of Digital Transactions comes in. This is our annual Buyers’ Guide, a catalog of goods and services for the electronic-payments business, and a listing of the companies that offer them. Every year, we dedicate the entire August issue to these listings, and it’s not hard to see why. That two-fold challenge can seem overwhelming. A great place to start is to get familiar with these vendors and marketers of services and products.

Yes, these folks are knowledgeable sources of information. But, more important, they are in many respects the unsung agents of change, the providers of the technology and expertise that feed into a payments company’s vision for something new.

That’s why we turn over this whole issue to our Buyer’s Guide, and it’s why we make it as comprehensive and useful as we can. We hope you’ll find this 2017 version a helpful guide.

—John Stewart, Editor  |  john@digitaltransactions.net

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