There is no denying that payments are attracting a host of new entrants and investors hoping to disrupt what they see as a staid and stodgy market.
One of the drivers of this transformation is the growing awareness that payments represent so much more than the simple moving of funds from one account to another. The transaction is only one point in a string of interactions between a merchant and a consumer.
With new analytical tools at their disposal, merchants can use transaction data to learn more about their customers, both individually and in aggregate. Merchants can build a deeper relationship with customers, driving incremental sales. Customers realize benefits through targeted offers, discounts and loyalty programs. A whole crop of startups has emerged hoping to capitalize on this new reality.
What is often missing from discussions about payments disruption is that all of the benefits from data analysis and better messaging are based on payments themselves working perfectly. In other words, to get to the next step in this payment transformation, companies have to do the payment part well really well. Often there is an implication that payments are the easy part of the process, that the real "magic" is found in the slicing and dicing done after the payment is completed.
As many startups are finding out, doing payments really well is hard. And doing it at the scale of the largest payment technology vendors is really hard. That's because the scale is utterly staggering.
Take FIS, for instance, the company atop this year's FinTech 100 list, which moves more than $5.5 trillion annually. That's larger than the annual GDP of all but three of the largest economies in the world.
Rarely do the large financial technology providers get to wear the title "disruptor" themselves, they're instead viewed as the slow-moving dinosaurs of the "legacy" payment system. But the fact is that most of the companies in the FinTech 100 are as aware how important it is to stay relevant, especially in a rapidly changing space, and are actively working to shake up their own space.