If you thought bitcoin was dead as a payments system, take a listen to George and Jimmy Nguyen, founding president of the Bitcoin Association, as they discuss Bitcoin SV, a new version of bitcoin that is a significant upgrade to the performance and capabilities of the original bitcoin protocol put into the world a decade ago.

 

From a payments perspective, bitcoin has failed. While successful as an albeit volatile store of value, its failings include:

  • It is slow, only able to handle 2 or 3 transactions per second with a peak rate of 7. Visa handles 50K at peak holiday times with aplomb.
  • While transactions are irrevocable, they are not immediately written to the blockchain. Core design specifies that that happens every 10 minutes but when the network is under load it has taken hours.
  • Processing cost is too high, measured in dimes and dollars, and also volatile
  • As the processors, known as miners, are rewarded with fewer bitcoins for their work, they’ll have to rely on processing revenues, transaction fees, to stay viable. Costs are already too high
  • There’s the high power usage of the network that’s needed to maintain consensus, essentially trust in the network.

If you thought bitcoin was dead as a payments system, take a listen to George and Jimmy Nguyen, founding president of the Bitcoin Association, as they discuss Bitcoin SV, a new version of bitcoin that is a significant upgrade to the performance and capabilities of the original bitcoin protocol put into the world a decade ago.

Jimmy brings a refreshing view on cryptocurrencies and payments. Jimmy provides a great review of how bitcoin works and why both its performance and its economics are broken. He explains the advantages of the Bitcoin SV fork and why it was necessary. Suffice it to say, bitcoin’s evolution is subject to the often fractious politics of that community where competing interests inhibit long term thinking.

Bitcoin SV has intriguing potential. Micropayments, sub $1 transactions, have never found a home in electronic payments. BSV could apply there.

BSV is also designed to use enormous blocks in order to keep processing costs low and provide the ability to store massive amounts of data about the payment. 

 

Direct download: EP109_BSV.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:40pm EST

Join Jeff Brown, president of VPay, a firm specializing in insurance claims payments, and George Peabody of Glenbrook Partners in this deep dive discussion of how the work of claims processing is done and how he approaches B2B payments, compliance, and the value-added services needed by the company’s customers.

The B2B Domain

We’re all familiar with the card present POS domain, card not present Remote domain, P2P payments, and the Bill Pay domain. A phone tap here, a card swipe there, a bill payment to the utility company. On a day to day basis, our personal experience with payments is these areas.

The B2B and B2C payment domains are very different. There is a wide range of industries with very specific payment needs. (Listen to episode 92  to hear how customized payments can become. Roadsync’s Robin Gregg talks about the special paper check type built just to serve independent long haul truckers.)

Insurance is Huge

One of the biggest industries is insurance. Premium payments in the U.S. alone are over $1.2 trillion. Payouts by stakeholders, such as healthcare systems and property & casualty insurers, and made to individuals claimants and service providers amount to trillions more.

Insurance is definitely big enough to be a very attractive vertical to a payments service provider.

Knowing Your Customer's Business

If you are a PSP serving a particular vertical market in the B2B space, you have to know at least as much about the vertical you serve as you do about payments operations and services. For example, if you’re making healthcare payments, you have to comply with the strict data privacy requirements specified by HIPAA regulations. You may have to support specific data formats. And you should help your business customers deliver useful features to their own customers.

If you want a great explanation of how payments fits into a vertical market, you can’t do better than listening to this episode of Payments on Fire®.

Direct download: EP108_VPay.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:26pm EST

Digital disruption and financial inclusion are focus areas throughout the developing world and the topics are white hot in Colombia. Listen in as Hernando Rubio, CEO of Moviired, speaks with Elizabeth McQuerry and George Peabody about Movii and payment / financial inclusion ecosystem in Colombia.

Financial Inclusion in Colombia

Although one of the first countries in Latin America to make a big policy push for financial inclusion, those efforts focused a “banking correspondents” or agents in local stores carrying out basic financial services on behalf of banks. While these correspondents greatly improved access to financial services, they have not fully produced the desired results. According to the World Bank, fewer than half of all adults have a bank account and only a handful (less than 5%) have a transaction account from a telco led service. Very few Colombians use those accounts to pay bills or buy something on the internet. Cash is still preferred.

Enter the SEDPEs

In 2015 regulators in Colombia created a new category of licensed financial institutions called a   special company for electronic deposits and payments, or SEDPE by the Spanish language initials. While a bank can also pursue this type license to focus financial inclusion efforts, the main conceptualization of SEDPEs are fintechs that gain authorization to take deposits and make payments – the two most basic (and still lacking) aspects of financial inclusion. SEDPEs are not allowed to make loans but can partner with others to make small credits available.

Movii

Rubio’s Movii was the first SEDPE to be authorized by regulators. Movii is a classic digital service that offers a wallet for storing funds, access to a reloadable debit card from Mastercard for buying in stores and on the internet, bill payment, mobile top ups and transfers to other Movii users. Movii also recently connected to the new national real-time payment service (Transferencias Ya) in order to be able to reach all account holders in Colombia. Movii builds off the company’s experience managing Moviired, an extensive network of physical agents in stores and bank correspondents throughout Colombia, that people use for those basic payments. Hear how a company disrupts itself as it lays the foundation for the next generation of financial services.

Direct download: EP107_Movii.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:17pm EST

The merchant acquiring industry continues its large scale shift from a payments-led to an operations-led purchasing decision for the merchants it serves. Historically based on independent sales organizations (ISOs) and non-bank acquirers, the party that increasingly provides payment acceptance is the independent software vendor (ISV).

This makes sense for a number of reasons:

  • Software is Vertical. Today, the first IT choice more merchants make is the software they use to run their business. This makes sense. Tools that improve overall business operations have a greater impact on success than the comparatively minor differences among payment providers. Auto parts stores need inventory management. Salons need scheduling. Ice cream and coffee shops need quick order entry. Daycare providers need security controls.
  • Payments are Horizontal. Every merchant, regardless of its segment, needs to take payments. While many segments have particular requirements for payments, payment acceptance alone is a commoditized service.
  • The ISV is the First Point of Contact. Given its primary role, the ISV has moved into an excellent position to sell and profit from payment acceptance.
  • Taking a Back Seat in Selling, Payments is Infrastructure. The payments industry has multiple ways of enabling ISVs to sell payments. The ISV may use a gateway to reach multiple acquirers with the gateway itself selling value-added capabilities in areas like fraud management. The ISV may use the payfac model for fast onboarding of new merchants. The ISV may, itself, become an ISO. Multiple forms of business relationship all provide some measure of revenue sharing with the ISV.

Differentiation in Payments Via New Paths

Differentiation based on value-added services drive revenue in payments. For that reason, we have seen non-bank acquirers and ISOs focus on particular vertical market segments to drive and secure long term revenues. A decade and more ago, Heartland Payment Systems (acquired by Global Payments) doubled down on the restaurant vertical by developing special services for restaurant operators as well as acquiring restaurant-focused ISVs. That lesson has been learned by many since.

Over the last few years, differentiation has also stemmed from how well the payments provider serves the ISV and its developers. Integration of payment services both into the ISVs code and within the provider’s own code base is important. A single API that exposes all of a provider’s services is preferable to integration work requiring knowledge of an API tied to each function. Micro-services based capability is also welcome.

Payment Facilitation as Enabler

While not, in and of itself, a new approach, the payment facilitation model is a major enabler of payment service delivery via ISVs. The payfac model is based on network rules that allows an intermediary to act as the merchant of record in order to provide payment system access to smaller merchants. PayPal did this first for ecommerce merchants. Stripe is another card not present example. Square used the payfac model to offer sellers in the physical world access to card acceptance.

ISVs who become payfacs assume responsibility for the activity of their small merchant customers. So, choosing to become a payfac has its complexities and risks. A number of providers, including Finix, bring expertise in the payments facilitation model to help ISVs make that decision.

In this Payments on Fire®, take a listen to Glenbrook’s Nicole Pinto, Drew Edmond, and Finix CEO and founder Richie Serna as they discuss the payfac phenomenon and the larger shift to the ISV as payments provider. This is a cool conversation about a sea change event in the merchant services industry. 

Direct download: EP106-Finix.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:58pm EST

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