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Five telltale signs you need a new payment provider


Merchants that have made payments core to their business have done so with the help of outside specialists. As with other forms of outsourcing, the value comes from access to expertise and systems that would take too much time and money to develop in-house. But there can come a time when the benefits begin to diminish — and even go into reverse. Instead of your payment partner helping you grow your business, they hold you back. 

In today’s fast-moving, agile digital marketplace, that’s not something you can afford. But how do you know when it’s time to consider working with a new payment service provider? Here are five telltale signs I’ve repeatedly seen throughout my career that indicate it might be time for a merchant to look elsewhere. 

1. Your payment provider doesn’t give you the control and flexibility you need

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to payments. The needs of merchants — and their customers — differ significantly. And maximizing full value from your payments platform rests on your ability to tailor it to your unique needs. 

Customization can come in many forms, on both the front- and back-end. For example, our research finds that the failure to optimize the customer checkout experience will ultimately cost your business revenue. So you need the ability to shape how you guide your customers through the checkout and ensure that you’re providing an experience that optimizes conversion.

Then there’s what happens on the back-end. Complex modern businesses are always shifting to find new ways to unlock revenue growth. That might come from entering new markets, diversifying revenue streams, or maybe acquiring a new business. 

Whatever your plans, you need a payment provider who can shift with you. That means finding one with a modular offering that allows you to flex your payments offering by adding new features when they’re required. And it should let you do that easily, without creating any additional complexity, through a single, clean API.

2. Your payment provider doesn’t support the markets you’re expanding into  

As your business grows, you'll want payments to do more. If you're expanding abroad, then accepting payments in multiple currencies and leveraging popular local payment schemes will be high on your wish-list.

Not every payment service provider can meet these requirements at scale. That leaves you with a decision: stick with your current payment provider and push them to meet your needs or find an alternative provider that’s ready to support you in your growth markets. 

And that’s just one part of the equation. As you go global, you need not only to ask whether your existing payment provider can support you in new markets, but whether they can help you succeed and grow.  

An effective payment partner will have all the knowledge you need on tap, a local presence on the ground and attuned to the market’s nuances. Just see how we’ve supported Careem’s growth in the Middle East. While a partner that needs to learn this from scratch — and build out their networks and technology as they go — will inevitably slow down this process and limit your growth potential.

3. Your payment provider doesn’t give you full visibility and control over your data

Data and operations should be inseparable in an effective payments setup. Data is the means to evaluate and identify areas for improvement. And access to such insights and reports is the first step to optimizing and increasing acceptance rates, understanding exactly how much you’re paying for payments, mitigating risks and using payments as a source of innovation within your business. 

Regrettably, a lack of access to actionable data is a significant challenge for many merchants. According to our research, 41% of the merchants don't receive any actionable analytics from their payments data. The truth is those payment providers that don’t value this dual role of data are cutting you off from operational efficiencies, competitive advantages and additional revenues.

Take TransferWise as a prime example. By getting greater insight from their payments data, they’ve made changes that have upped their approval rates by a full percentage point. And as Aleksandr Povarov, Product Manager at TransferWise, explains: "with over 9 million customers and billions in transactions a month, that extra 1% adds up and has a significant impact on our bottom-line."

Data and operations should be inseparable in an effective payments setup. Data is the means to evaluate and identify areas for improvement. And access to such insights and reports is the first step to optimizing and increasing acceptance rates, understanding exactly how much you’re paying for payments, mitigating risks and using payments as a source of innovation within your business. 

4. Your payment provider doesn’t provide you with the levels of customer service you need

Vendors take money, partners consult. The best ones should be at your side, building your business case with you. Their knowledge and experience could be crucial in deciding what projects to follow, how to pitch it to your C-Suite and the case studies and evidence that will persuade them. 

But if you're calling your partners more than they're contacting you, the game could already be up. No supplier is immune to the unpredictable. The effective partner recognizes that — and keeps tabs. 

Today's catch-up may be routine, but tomorrow's could come in time to avert a crisis. Less dramatic, but no less important, is how much effort vendors take to know everyone in your team. Leadership is where most vendors focus their attention, but a partner will know that ideas and issues often start further down the chain, and they will insert themselves there too. 

5. Your payment provider doesn’t provide clarity over how much you’re paying for payments

Never mind the answer; you shouldn't have to ask the question. Traditional banking and finance has acquired a reputation for hidden costs. Regulators have forced them to become more transparent, but some still provide their customers with the bare minimum. Rather than providing merchants with a clear breakdown of all their charges at a transaction level, they list the blended fee that was applied to the transaction amount.

Without a precise breakdown, you’re left in the dark. Are you getting a good deal on your payments? Are you overpaying? You just don’t know. And it’s one piece of information you really should know — especially when the CFO or CEO comes asking.

Don't wait till it's too late

Relationships can sour for various reasons. You may have outgrown your payment partner — or they may have outgrown you. You may not be big enough to be their priority anymore. Either way, the key is to plan for the possibility that things could turn bad when the going's good. 

I advise that you take regular monthly health checks and hold more formal quarterly reviews. And agree to SLAs and KPIs that give both sides accountability if you don’t have them already. Both these tactics will provide you with an opportunity to review the performance of your current provider and see whether they align with your roadmap.   

I’d also suggest you spend time keeping an eye out for what’s happening in the payments industry. It’s a dynamic space that’s changing fast. So if a payment service provider is posting strong results or receiving substantial backing from investors, it’s worth finding out why. What are they doing differently? What is it that you’re missing out on? 

And above all, make the decision that’s right for your business. Your payment provider is a critical partner and plays a major role in its success. Finding a provider with the capabilities, reach, and ambition that matches your business is vital.

Ready to unlock the full power of your payments? Download our exclusive actionable guide to get expert insights and advice from payment leaders to kick start your connected payments journey.