Offering customers more ways to pay in a simple, quick and safe way is key to eCommerce. Having the right technology behind your checkout is critical to success, says Sujit Unni, chief technology officer, Paysafe.
When we think about the most successful businesses, they usually have one thing in common the exchange between products or services and the consumer’s funds is seamless. At the heart of this lies the payments platform. More important than ever as consumers demand flexibility and choice, it’s quickly becoming a differentiator for smart businesses.
This technology underpins the satisfying (or not) digital interactions we experience as consumers when making online purchases. But consumer expectations are increasing, and capabilities in areas such as data management are advancing, so today meeting customers’ needs and creating a competitive edge in any market or industry relies on more than just providing a basic payment platform.
Here are five characteristics that we see of a transformational payments platform:
1 Be customer-centric
Forget about the products you deliver, and instead focus on the outcomes for the end user. Ask yourself why we choose to pay in different ways. It’s not because we are impressed with the technology that facilitates the payment.
We choose the options that make our lives as consumers easier and get us to our desired outcomes faster. Another example: banks offer loans, overdrafts, and credit cards but they’re all the same means to an end for the consumer. It’s not about the product, but how they achieve their goals of buying a car, or meeting their monthly bills on time.
The design of a payments platform should be driven by the convenience payments provide to the customer and the problem you’re trying to solve for them. Key to this is shifting from a focus on siloed products to the experience as a whole; anytime, anywhere, any method transactions.
2 Know what to build, and what to buy
Having an open, integrated ecosystem means that whatever market you operate in, you can collaborate with specialists that are able to accelerate issue resolution and find solutions quicker than you can. This requires an understanding of what your strengths are, and how to balance when it is right to develop in-house and when to partner with other tech providers.
A lot of firms lose their way by forgetting what they’re trying to achieve, becoming more of a pipeline than a platform business. The technology you build should be around your core competencies. There’s no point getting bogged down in areas that aren’t your strength when you can partner with other tech companies to do it.
3 Know how you are going to futureproof from the start
A flexible payments platform is a futureproofed one. It needs to have the ability to scale easily in line with your growing business and customer base. And it needs to be able to maximise the benefits of emerging and evolving tech such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and advanced analytics. It also must be open and have the ability to connect with peers, third-party providers, and even competitors.
Having a forward-looking application program interface (API) strategy is key to creating a payments platform where innovation thrives in a collaborative space. From private APIs with select partners to public APIs open to external developers your API sophistication will determine the level of innovation and creativity you can achieve in driving customer experience to new levels.
4 Maximising openness is a top priority
Yesterday’s competitors have become today’s partners, with organisations benefiting from the ability to plug into each other’s APIs. We now operate within more innovative and collaborative environments, enabling all players to bring to market new solutions that add value.
Everyone especially the consumer stands to gain from an open platform landscape, so it’s important to work towards integration. But doing so isn’t an overnight process. It requires keeping a focus on the wider goal and developing your API strategy to support your vision.
5 Tech can’t succeed without culture
Having a scalable, secure, futureproofed payments platform is going to get you a long way to achieving your business objectives, but it’s not technology in isolation that’s going to create the best experience for customers. It pays to look at the functioning of your payments platform in the context of your entire business and, importantly, work to a common goal driven by what your customers want to achieve and how you can facilitate that.
You need to bring classic product management and platform capabilities together in the right environment to ensure success. The whole team needs to understand the value a well-functioning platform brings to the organisation.
The key to innovation
As payments continue to deliver new experiences for consumers, understanding the characteristics behind a great payments infrastructure is key to success. It’s not enough to say you’re a platform business your systems need to reflect that by being open, easy to integrate, and flexible. But perhaps most essential in the mix is having a laser focus on customers’ outcomes and designing tech that’s going to deliver those faster.
The author is Sujit Unni, chief technology officer, Paysafe.
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