The Gimlet Eye
Innovation in the consumer-based payments business is unfolding at such blurring speed that it helps to step back and reflect on just how far the industry has come in a few years.
Just 10 years ago, electronic payment at the point of sale meant you swiped a plastic card with a mag stripe through a specialized terminal that accepted payment cards and did nothing else (though sometimes the device featured a PIN pad for debit cards). Online, you typed card details into a tedious form or paid from your bank account with an ACH credit. And you did this on a bulky desktop computer.
What’s the scenario now? At the merchant’s checkout counter, if you’re using a card, you’re inserting that card, which features a specialized microchip, into a reader that recognizes the chip to effect the payment. Or you’re using your smart phone to make a contactless payment. Yes, many are still swiping mag-stripe cards, and will be at some places for years to come. But more and more merchants are equipped to handle those EMV chip cards. And in place of a specialized terminal there is a tablet that runs myriad functions besides payments.
Online, chances are you’re using a smart phone, a tablet, or a laptop computer. You may be on the merchant’s site, but more than likely you’re checking out on its app, which knows your preferred payment method and streamlines the whole process.
A business that moves this fast needs a guide for those whose livelihood depends on keeping up with and understanding the latest developments. It also requires a catalog listing of the vendors whose hardware, software, and services are fueling the revolution in how people pay.
That’s where we like to think we come in. Digital Transactions is that guide. And this particular August issue of Digital Transactions is that catalog, the Buyer’s Guide we publish every year at this time with the information you need to stay in touch with the critical suppliers to the industry.
In fact, we think this information is of such importance that each year we devote the entire issue to it. As we’ve pointed out a number of times in the past, the companies listed in this Guide are more than a supplier—they’re also a fount of industry intelligence. Use your contacts with them, along with what you read here and in our sister publication, Digital Transactions News, to stay informed on what’s happening and why, no matter how fast those developments may be unfolding.
Ten years from now, even a year from now, you’ll be glad you did.
— John Stewart, Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org