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The payments function's evolution towards a pivotal role for businesses

Wednesday 19 September 2018 | 08:50 AM CET

Delphine Bos, SafeCharge’s CMO, details the developing path of payments: from cost centre to key factor of businesses success

Over the past five years, the payments function has evolved considerably. Earlier, payment was mainly considered a cost centre, but thanks to increased knowledge and experience of payments leaders, it has now become a defining factor for business success. Below are some of the key learnings of ‘The 7 habits of the successful “new” payments leaders’, a whitepaper by SafeCharge in cooperation with the independent consultancy, Edgar Dunn & Company. Based on interviews with payments managers across various verticals and geographies, this whitepaper shares the vision and best practices of some of the industry front runners.

Payments was once a cost centre

A few years back, the main objective of people in charge of payments was to reduce the cost of payment processing as much as possible. The payments function was not seen as a crucial part of the business, it was part of the corporate infrastructure, driven by Finance or IT and managed with an operational mindset. At the time, payments partners were the main source of information and were actually driving decisions for businesses. Payments managers completely relied on the knowledge and expertise of these partners.

Payments became a conversion driver

With payments managers’ increasing experience and knowledge, it became clearer that offering a smooth payment experience with a local choice of the most popular payment methods helped in increasing conversions. Used smartly, businesses realised that payments could also increase customer retention and most importantly, improve customers brand loyalty. The payment function became more than simply a necessary operational item, but also a parameter impacting businesses’ revenues. Businesses started investing in in-house knowledge to manage payments. Though the effect of payments strategy on the business increased, the function’s scope remained mainly financial and IT driven.

It now becomes a key factor of overall businesses success

With new business models emerging, a disruptive approach to payments appeared, transforming payments as a key differentiator. Uber led the pack by offering a fully mobile solution with a seamless way to pay, without any action required by the users. The ease of booking a ride combined with a convenient user experience for payments made Uber a poster child of new-age businesses. Another example is shown by They designed a unique value proposition offering the possibility for customers to pay later or cancel their booking at no cost. This convenience makes an ideal choice for a multitude of customers. These two examples demonstrate that payments become a driver of choice for consumers and therefore a key factor of business success.

Next to adapting to new business models, the reliability of the payments infrastructure has become more important for online businesses because of the increasing popularity of time-sensitive sales such as flash sales, auctions and ticketing; or during sales events on various occasions such as Black Friday or Single’s Day in China. The reliability of the payments infrastructure has become super critical as system disruption during time sensitive sales events means significant revenue losses for merchants.

New business models and evolving technology are creating new ways of leveraging payments to create a competitive edge. The role of payments has far moved from being a restricted field to a central role connected to many business areas including Finance, IT, Product, Marketing and Customer Service.

The evolution of the payments function calls for an evolution of payments partners

With the scope of the payments playground increasing with more cooperation across many teams internally and more influence on businesses and their strategies, the payments function is becoming a top role within organisations. It is not far-fetched to imagine the emergence of a position of Chief Payment Officer who manages this ever-expanding cross-team strategic function.

As a result of this evolution, the role of a payments partner is also evolving to the role of a peer working closely with merchants, sharing expertise, and building solutions adapted to their specific needs. A new breed of payments partners is focusing on offering them the technology to drive their payments operations via a centralised platform. At SafeCharge, we pride ourselves on our innovative offering of one of the industry’s first Native+ Payments Engine. Built from the ground up, it covers the full payment value chain and provides merchants with an end-to-end secure payment solution, as well as connections to many other providers.

The “new” payments leaders have a central role to play within organisations, contributing to not only increased revenues, but also delivering the best customer experience which becomes a key component of brands traction. As a partner of choice for businesses who demand more from payments technology, SafeCharge’s vision is to answer the needs of the new payments leaders by empowering them with solutions that put them in control of their payments.

About Delphine Bos

In her role of CMO at SafeCharge, Delphine is driving all the company’s strategic and operational marketing. Delphine has over 15 years of experience in marketing of payments technologies and joined SafeCharge from Adyen where she was Head of Global Marketing. Previously Delphine worked at EMS Card, a First Data company and at GlobalCollect (now Ingenico Payments), where she was leading marketing activities.

About SafeCharge

SafeCharge is the payment service partner for the world's most demanding businesses providing global omni‐channel payments services from card acquiring and issuing to payment processing and checkout, all underpinned by advanced risk management solutions. With direct connections to all major payment card schemes as well as over 150 local payment methods, SafeCharge serves a diversified, blue chip client base and is a trusted payment partner for customers across a range of vertical markets.