Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coopetition in the Payments World

By Mark Brousseau

According to the results of the Federal Reserve’s last two Payments Studies, electronic payments have risen from 43 percent of all non-cash payments to 66 percent of such payments over the period of 2000 to 2006. Conversely, checks have gone from 67 percent to 34 percent during this same period.

The message is clear: electronic payments are replacing check payments at a very rapid rate. So, it may surprise you to learn that one of the most common questions heard by providers of electronic payment solutions is, “do you have any capabilities for handling our paper-based payments?”

Why the continued interest in paper? Larry Jones of Cash Management Solutions, Inc. (larry.jones@cashmgmt.com) says the answer is simple: Although there are literally billions of payments that have migrated to electronic methods, the majority of high dollar and business-to-business payments are still made by check. This means that paper-based payment processing continues to be of great importance to many of the financial industry’s most prized clients, their corporate customers, Jones said.

Jones believes payments service providers must maintain their paper-based capabilities as they add alternative electronic channels. And, it is a well-known fact, he adds, that there is no system so efficient that it can overcome the inefficiencies of having to run it separately from, and simultaneously with, the system it is replacing.

“Until the landscape changes to the point where electronics replace all paper-payments, billers will continue to ask for methods and technologies that can affect a seamless convergence of these two distinct payment types,” Jones predicts. “Any payments service provider who is currently offering only paper processing should definitely be looking for the ability to offer on-line, direct to biller, bill payment services to their customers in a seamlessly merged deliverable.”

Likewise, any company that makes their living providing on-line bill payment systems or services should be looking for capabilities or partners who process paper payments and provide outputs that can be merged and delivered in a similarly seamless fashion, Jones adds.

What do you think? Post your comment below.

No comments: