Just a few weeks ago, top payments industry players gathered at Harvard for Innovation Project 2015. Among the attendees, and panelist group for the “From Payments To Commerce” discussion, was Stephen Stout, Global Head of Strategy at First Data Corporation. Just post the exciting session, PYMNTS caught up with Stout to get his reaction on topics discussed, what he thinks the biggest challenges are in the B2B space today, and where First Data and the ecosystem will stand five years from now.
Fresh out the “From Payments To Commerce” panel at Innovation Project, what’s your immediate reaction to the conversations had?
SS: What I thought was interesting are the similarities in how we’re all viewing the industry. We’re all cognizant of the impact that the rate of change in technology is having on our own businesses and on our customers’ businesses, and how we have to change to meet the needs of our customers.
The other interesting angle was the constant discussion around data – the use of data, the monetization of data and the privacy issues of data. And, what’s interesting is that not all data is the same.
What were the most important things you would were trying to impart on the audience during the panel discussion?
SS: With all of the interesting changes happening in the industry, and how fast they’re happening, our customers – whether they’re banks or merchants – are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with that pace of change, and the risks that change brings. And it’s important that we understand how technology interacts in a new way – it’s no longer about just brute functionality. It’s now about simplicity, convenience, ease of use. Those factors are almost more important than the early 2000’s large enterprise solutions marketed to our customers.
Where do you see First Data or the ecosystem two, three or five years out from now?
SS: Within the ecosystem, there will be some things that stay the same. We’ll still have plastic credit and debit cards, as well as cash and checks. But I think there will be a migration of payment products issued by banks from just basic card products to consumer management solutions – ways to have a dialogue and connection with consumers.
That goes for the business side as well. Instead of selling payment services and products, I think we’ll see the industry sell business management solutions to help large and small merchants more effectively run their business, deal with the changing landscape and competitive environments, and leverage the data in their own businesses more effectively. That’s going to require the development of next-generation operating systems and platforms that we don’t really have today.
I think First Data, five years from now, will be one of those operating systems to help everyone in the ecosystem succeed.