Review of the Card Payments Year (Part 1)
As 2011 draws to a close, let's reflect on the year gone by in the world of card payments. In this first part, we will look at some of the global developments before focussing on more regional trends in part two.
At the Point of Sale itself, there have been no rabbits pulled from the hat to upset the established order but that disguises what has been an extremely busy year as vendors, banks, schemes and service providers position themselves for the future.
The most high profile industry activity has undoubtedly been the continued consolidation of hardware vendors and service providers and, indeed, the growing blur between these two previously distinct types of organisation. Verifone has undoubtedly stolen most of the acquisition headlines in 2011 with their big competitor, Ingenico, focussing a bit more on stretching their core business organically.
There has been a host of activity around mobile payment / m-commerce. In particular, there has been a lot of debate how NFC could drive mobile payments forward but, possibly more interestingly, about the threat it poses to the established card payments order.
As discussed previously, Visa and MasterCard are investing in many sytems and technologies, almost as if to cover all the possible scenarios, while new entrants try to harness the emergence of social networks and growing telco networks to circumvent the big two altogether.
In contrast to the consolidation in the more traditional card payment sector, mobility is driving all kinds of alliances and partnerships as hardware and service providers attempt to find the killer bundle that will give them a crucial leadership position in this highly fractuous space.
All of this takes place against the backdrop of a stagnant recovery from a largely Western recession and, although there is an ever growing number of gloomy predictions about the future health of the US and European economies in particular, our feeling is that 2011 has seen the Card Payments market pick up a bit of bouyancy and optimism which has no doubt been driven by the opportunities some the developments above offer.