The Modern Era of Payment Platforms Is Here

Modern Payments

This article was written by KC Simon, Product Marketing, Square Payment Platform

Payments may not be the first area you think of when it comes to modernizing your company’s technology — it’s more often a box to check or a cost center to minimize than an urgent opportunity for innovation — but if you haven’t looked at your payment technology in a while, you’re likely missing an opportunity.

The modern era of payments comes with different opportunities and challenges than in decades past. At Square, we believe that payment technology is at the core of successful commerce interactions.

Evergreen challenges have become even more pronounced, requiring more expertise and focus: Hackers and fraudsters have better tools to compromise customers’ data security; compliance obligations are more complex than ever; and consumers no longer have patience for clunky buying experiences.

At the same time, new technologies and business models are making it more possible every day for companies to provide unique, delightful, and safe customer experiences.

So what does this mean for your business?

As we move into the modern era of payments, here are three industry trends you should be aware of:

Sellers are realizing that there’s a difference between commodity payment providers and platforms that manage payment challenges for them.

Much in the way that web service platforms have allowed companies to outsource much of their IT overhead, modern payment providers allow brands to focus on building their products and serving their customers instead of managing the infrastructure required to maintain a reliable, secure, and compliant payment stack.

Best-in-class payment providers are offering more than commodity payment processing; they are providing services that solve their customers’ biggest payment pain points, from fraud prevention and protection to rising costs to chargeback representation.

As an example, Square removes the burden of PCI compliance from our sellers. We take on all PCI liability ourselves. Businesses that implement Square universally avoid significant security and compliance costs: They don’t have to develop a plan for payment security, hire and manage employees or contractors to implement or verify security, or purchase insurance against payment data breaches.

Payment platforms need to enable and simplify omnichannel commerce experiences.

Separate business units for eCommerce and retail don’t make sense in our modern world. Today’s consumers interact with brands across a number of channels and platforms and expect a coherent experience — a huge challenge for sellers using a patchwork of technology providers.

The most successful brands are leveraging comprehensive omnichannel commerce tools that allow them to meet their customers where they are, while simplifying their system architecture.

The ideal payment platform enables companies to make a sale anywhere, without introducing operational headaches. That means having the right hardware for in-store and mobile payment use cases. It means securely storing customer payment information for use across the entire ecosystem (and keeping the company out of scope for PCI compliance). And it also means providing a unified, real-time flow of payment data that makes answering business questions and managing accounting and reconciliation needs easy.

New technologies are changing how we manage payments at scale.

Just as consumers are shopping differently, technology improvements are changing how we keep payments and related data secure, reliable, and available. Advanced payment platforms are leveraging trends like machine learning and blockchain in novel ways.

At Square, machine-learning advancements have drastically improved our abilities to detect and prevent fraud. We’re constantly analyzing the firehose of data from our payment ecosystem to mitigate risk for our sellers. Our models assess payment events through the lens of dozens of data attributes so we’re able to both identify fraudulent behavior as it happens and discover new trends.

We also believe in combining the best of machine learning and human expertise, so our data science and risk analytics teams work together daily to adjust controls based on known threats and nuanced analyses.

As another example, we’ve leveraged the same cryptographic signing technology from blockchains to create financial ledgers that are provably unaltered, ensuring an attacker couldn’t gain access to our systems and move money around undetected.

Companies that haven’t examined their payment technology recently might be pleasantly surprised by what’s possible in this new era. Millions of sellers rely on Square to take payments anywhere and anytime, so we take the responsibility to build a cutting-edge and reliable platform seriously.

A modern payment provider should complement your efforts to create a buying experience that wows your customers, allowing you to spend less time thinking about compliance, security, reporting, and reconciliation and more time on the customer experience that only you can build.

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