Over the last decade, the acquiring space has endured significant, fast-paced changes – for one, buyers have become much more informed. And with origination, ease of use, availability, access and security now part of the discussion, players in the space need to take a broader approach to their business, says the newly appointed President of TSYS Merchant Solutions, Tom Boyer. In a recent interview with MPD CEO Karen Webster, Boyer reveals the biggest issues facing the acquiring space today, and how TSYS aims to address them all while keeping ahead of its competition.
KW: Tom, you’ve been recently put into the position of leading TSYS Merchant Solutions as its president, and I’m curious to get your perspective on the space. What have you observed as some of the most significant changes in acquiring over the last decade or so?
TB: I’d say there are three significant changes from my perspective. First, the pace of change in the industry is accelerating faster today, and I think it will continue to do so. Technology and social trends are fueling the change, impacting almost every element of the industry from shortening delivery cycles to creating new channels and payment forms, and enabling new kinds of competition and partnerships.
The buyer is also more informed today. I think that’s a result of a shift in sales and marketing activities. That shift has caused our industry to look at the acquiring business a bit differently. With origination, ease of use, availability, access and security now part of the discussion, I believe it requires a much broader view today than yesterday.
It really is about so much more than just processing credit cards.
KW: I agree with you. You talk about the buyer being more informed – how is that changing how you talk to buyers these days?
TB: I think it changes our focus in terms of building and designing our products. We obviously serve the end merchant, but it’s really important to understand the merchant’s business, and also understand the customers they serve.
KW: So the space has a lot of new entrants. You’ve touched on a lot of the changes that are the underpinning of what’s going on in acquiring – the technology component, more informed buyers, different buyers and the pace of change. How are players like Square and integrated payments players affecting the shift in the space? Is it helping to drive things forward?
TB: I think certainly the channels to market and the customer’s journey are becoming more complex. It is moving the business forward, but with more players involved, things can go in a different direction. So I think it’s really important to understand the channels we’re targeting and take a deeper look at the customer’s journey.
That experience from origination through servicing is critical to making sure that we deliver on the promise with our customers. We’ll continue to see increased competition with new entrants but we just need to focus on what we do best, and on our core as we execute on our objectives.
KW: What are buyers asking you today that they didn’t think to ask, or know to ask even, four to five years ago?
TB: I think our customers want to know where their customers are originating, and where they are in the buying process. We have to be able to serve their customers any place and any time with any payment they tender.
KW: How is TSYS keeping up with changes in the space and staying a step ahead of the competition?
TB: It requires us to maintain a resilient focus with a firm understanding of our core operating principles. So often companies run the risk of chasing endless opportunities, only to fall short of desired expectations. The chase can be exciting and fun, but I think it’s really important to know who you are at the core.
So for TSYS, we’re looking at focusing, making better and faster decisions, and developing deeper learning. The business is more complex today, so making sure our team members have a keen understanding of the complexity of the business will allow us to keep pace with rapid change.
I also want to leverage the broader TSYS organization – collaborate and engage – because I am still learning about the assets that TSYS brings to bear to help support the direct merchant business.
KW: You mentioned technology, and the buyer’s need that’s changing a lot. How is that influencing the roadmap or innovations that you’re likely to bring to market in the near term?
TB: One of the investments that we’re focused on is making sure that we develop our TSYS Merchant Insights program. That’s a loyalty-based offering solution, and what we’re doing is utilizing location data and social data sources to deliver benefit to both the consumer and the merchant.
Through our partnership marketing activities, we know what influences the consumer to use a card more, and in turn, it helps our customers grow their business. We want to make sure that we get the visibility to our customers, and that they attract loyal customers, and fulfill the new demands of the younger generation.
KW: That’s interesting. So the TSYS Merchant Insights program is what exactly? What are some of the things that merchants can get through the program?
TB: They can understand when the customers are buying, how they’re performing relative to local businesses in their area and industry code, why they’re buying and what causes them to spend more at that particular business. The other thing we do is leverage social media and looking at its ratings.
KW: So we talked around a number of the challenges facing the acquiring space today. What are the top two to three issues from your perspective, and what is TSYS doing to address them?
TB: First, increased competition and new entrants will continue. I also think the industry is facing increased pricing pressure on its core processing revenues.
At TSYS, we’re focused on a number of things. Really the emphasis is around customer experience – we will continue to make investments to unify the customer experience across our internal channels. By improving and integrating these touch points across our organization, our goal is to create a connected experience that enables us to have a deeper understanding and a more comprehensive view of our customers’ business.
Our evolving programs and service-level offering will be designed from the perspective of our customers, both large and small. At TSYS, we talk about client engagement quite a bit. That means delighting our customers and putting them at the center of every decision we make. Engagement with intent shifts the conversation from us to them.
We’ll continue to keep a close watch on many of the activities impacting our business including new emerging technologies, and evaluating complementary new growth channels, segments and revenue streams.
President, TSYS Merchant Solutions
Thomas Boyer is a senior executive with more than 15 years of business development experience in the acquiring industry. He was recently named president of TSYS Merchant Solutions, its direct acquiring business unit. Boyer will manage all aspects of direct-to-merchant sales, operations and customer support for TSYS Merchant Solutions’ small business and national accounts portfolio.
Prior to joining TSYS, Boyer was senior vice president, portfolio management, at Bank of America Merchant Services, where he was responsible for leading sales as well as relationship and portfolio management activities for commercial and business banking customers.
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