Payments Innovation

The Traditional Payments Player Role In The FinTech World

As the payments ecosystem continues to evolve, FinTechs are leading the charge in transforming everything from operational efficiencies to business models, and especially the customer experience. But how do the industry’s incumbents fit into the new world of payments? Joby Orlowsky, VP of business growth and development for Discover Global Network, caught up with PYMNTS to share insights on how traditional global payments organizations can work with, and not against, the new current of innovation across the payments landscape.

The payments space is filled with so much innovation — and new entrants eager to use that innovation to deliver a revolution to the industry — that it can be hard to see exactly where existing players fit into that vision.

While it may seem that traditional payments companies only have the option to hop on board with the change or get left behind, Joby Orlowsky, VP of business growth and development for Discover Global Network, shared a broader view of the role that existing payment organizations have to play in the new, and ever-changing, payment world that FinTechs are helping to build.

Here is an excerpt of the conversation.


PYMNTS: How is Discover responding to the influx of new players in the payments industry? What is Discover Global Network’s viewpoint on technology companies?

JO: Discover’s view of technology companies is a positive one. These organizations fill critical roles in the payments ecosystem and, at times, may do so more efficiently and effectively than the historic incumbents in the industry. We’ve seen a substantial increase of new companies join the marketplace, and Discover Global Network is actively working with a number of them to demonstrate how our network capabilities can help their businesses succeed and vice versa. At the end of the day, these companies are changing the way people do business and how they pay, creating and designing experiences that no one could imagine just a few years ago. As a global payments organization, we understand the need to be flexible and adapt rapidly to new technologies and business models to meet consumer demand, and we are working with, and will continue to work with, a growing number of these companies to do so.


PYMNTS: How do you keep the Discover Global Network brand prominent in new payments technology? Can networks, issuers, merchants and tech companies each keep their brand prominent in the mobile payments world? If not, whose brand is going to come out on top?

JO: Brand prominence is key for Discover Global Network, especially when it comes to acceptance. With a multitude of new payment channels from in-store to online to mobile — our focus is on ensuring our cardmembers are able to use their cards whenever they want, from any device or location. Regardless of where you are in the value chain, the key is to innovate to stay relevant, effectively partner and add more value. I also believe that the relationships Discover has established with merchants, acquirers, processors, value-added resellers and technology partners allows us to maximize our relevance, brand presence and value to the consumers.


PYMNTS: How is Discover Global Network remaining a critical player in the payments industry, evolving and adapting during a time of substantial change?

JO: Discover Global Network is continuing to innovate and work with a variety of partners within the omnichannel environment. In today’s age, roles are shifting. Payments players aren’t just providing a service; we are counseling clients and working together because both sides bring ideas. Discover Global Network supports a closed-loop system, which allows us to do things in a different way than our competitors, such as utilizing information on both the issuer and network sides of the business. This helps to make us the one of the best partners for many merchants and helps afford our consumers a value that few others can bring. We view our network as a corridor to assist new entrants with accessing established relationships, such as our work with the nontraditional regional network players internationally and private-label providers. In the end, it’s about more than payments; it’s about the entire customer experience. And that’s what we deliver on to help us remain a critical player in the payments space.


PYMNTS: What can new entrants/startups and traditional payments players learn from one another?

JO: There’s a lot that can be learned from both sides. Startups are agile and respond to challenges quickly and effectively, as well as attack problems and mobilize talent in nontraditional ways. They have the fail mentality; they are the culmination of hundreds of thousands of hours of trial and error. It’s common for traditional payments players to have the exact opposite reputation as they reward taking the safe path as opposed to the one with greater potential for reward. We’ve benefited significantly from relationships with startups, as they’ve taught us how to stay nimble, prioritize and pivot quickly, while still focusing on ensuring a near-seamless transaction experience for our customers. When it comes to startups, from what we’ve seen, they’re partnering with players like Discover Global Network to tackle the complexities of the marketplace, grow to scale, establish effective processes and market innovative products to customers successfully.


PYMNTS: In your experience, what works well and what doesn’t when a startup and traditional company work together? How should the partners go about setting up the deal and then working together day to day?

JO: It works well if the startup has a proven business model and a differentiated or superior product. In addition, it also helps if they have other happy customers that they are already effectively serving. If not, then the startup and traditional player may be trying to work together to prove the startup’s value proposition, and this is where things can get more difficult. For example, the traditional company may try to influence the creativity and the concept of the startup’s vision in order to fit it within the traditional player’s structure. There needs to be clearly established expectations of what each is willing to do to help the other. When it comes down to it, startup and traditional companies ultimately have the same goal in mind to deliver products and services to their customers. One of the biggest areas of opportunities is speed to market. When expectations are aligned, it’s amazing to see how much and how quickly startup and corporate companies can deliver innovation with a customer mindset.


PYMNTS: Any additional comments you’d like to share with readers?

JO: It is an exciting time in the payments business. The pace of change is like never before and only continues to accelerate. We at Discover Global Network are excited to play a role in this industry and are confident in our partner-driven approach. While we talk about it often, we cannot emphasize it enough — Discover Global Network is a flexible, nimble and interested organization when it comes to partnering on business solutions in the payments space.


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