2018: The Year Of Evolution In Payments’ Revolution


In life, change is the only constant, so why should it be different for payments?

From cash to digital, from plastic cards to mobile wallets, from cash registers at the front of restaurants to tablets brought to tables (redefining the concept of “dine and dash”) — the way we pay shifts along with the availability of technology, and tech shifts as commerce demands new features.

Among those demands, at least on the part of the consumer, are speed, flexibility and personalization. We expect transactions, and the commerce tied to those transactions, to be quick and around the clock — and far-reaching, around the globe. Now, an individual in China can order a wristwatch from the U.S., and behind the scenes (across web pages, time zones, currencies and languages), the deal gets sealed.

It seems like a revolution — but, of course, revolutions have evolutions. The end of the year, or the beginning of a new one, marks a good place to take stock. As usual, we spoke to a plethora of payments executives (25 to be exact), each with a perspective on what’s in the rearview mirror and what lies on the road ahead.

Though 2018 remains simply a demarcation point on a continuum (and the journey is not over, many noted), some notable themes still stand. One is the embrace of software, where hardware once reigned. Another is an embrace of mobile as the order of the day — literally, as in mobile order-ahead. Demographics play a part, as always, as who we are shapes what and how we buy.

How we buy, sell and keep track of it all is also changing, not just for consumers, but for businesses — and for the banks that cater to them. Treasury management professionals are finding value in the linkups between FinTech and traditional financial institutions (FIs), helping corporate customers of all sizes, and across any number of verticals, cut down on the paper chase.

Executives also weighed in on how the regulatory landscape is changing, as watchdogs strive to combat illicit fund flows. Billions of dollars in fines have been and are accruing, as legacy anti-money laundering (AML) systems failed to do what they were designed to do. Therefore, firms must grapple with the challenge of innovation in the endeavor to stay one step ahead of the bad actors. GDPR and PSD2 are helping to shape data sharing.

New ways to pay — as in alternative payments? They’re discussed here, of course, bitcoin and cryptos among them. New ways to track data? Blockchain finds its way into consideration.

All of this and more, as they say. It seems the more things change, the more things … change. So, get ready for what’s next by reading about what happened over the rollicking dozen months of progress and surprises that was 2018.