This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the 2023 TRANSACT conference, hosted by the Electronics Transaction Association (ETA). This annual event brings together more than a thousand companies and countless professionals, providing a variety of perspectives on technologies and trends impacting payments.
After several days of events, speakers, and interactions, I returned home energized and with some key insights that will guide my thinking in the coming months.
1. In-Person Networking is Alive and Well
For some of us, it may have been a few years since being able — or comfortable — attending a massive conference in person. If that’s the case, now is definitely the time to jump back in.
ETA Transact is a great place to learn, of course, but perhaps more importantly to network with industry leaders, colleagues old and new, potential partners, and friends. The conference schedule accommodated our busy calendars as well, with a variety of event options that spanned both daytime and evening hours.
Most people I know at the show were indeed taking the occasional conference call during the day and then hopping around the various events in the evening, including two two that stood out for me: the aquarium (from Visa) and The Tabernacle (what an amazing band!).
Connecting and engaging with so many people over those three days was a thrill.
2. It’s All About Embedded Payments
I noticed close to 25% of the sessions at Transact covered embedded payments related innovation. This was the star of the show!
All the players in the payments industry are trying to figure out how to be relevant and keep a piece of the pie. The recent Apple Pay Later news made some waves in this space.
Here are some of the benefits we heard of using embedded payments:
- Increased sales: make it easier for customers to pay for goods and services
- Improved customer satisfaction: streamline the payment process to be more convenient and seamless
- Reduced costs: eliminate the need to maintain their own payment processing infrastructure
- Increased security: use secure payment processing solutions
Now, those benefits aren’t the most novel we’ve heard. For us, it will be interesting to witness the application of embedded payments with real-world customer experiences in a way that can drive adoption.
3. A Bit of Crypto Fatigue is Creeping Up
In contrast with the embedded payments, only about 6% of the sessions covered Crypto. All of those sessions were very well attended with great Q&A, but the FTX effect and the lack of clarity on regulations have a lot of industry players focusing on other priorities.
Crypto regulation overall has pretty much been put on the back burner as bank failure took center stage in the first quarter of 2023. That said, lawmakers are trying to work on a bill about Stablecoin that could be easier to digest.
Experts seem to agree that one big consequence of this delay in clarity is a exodus of innovation from the US to Europe or other countries that have provided a regulatory framework.
There is also a debate about using crypto currencies for payments.
A lot of people are holding on to crypto and have no intention of using it for payments (hence the term HODL which has come to mean Hold On for Dear Life). Still, the global reach, faster transaction speeds, and lower fees are attractive benefits of using crypto. Perhaps the near future will see more of a hybrid approach of holding on to current crypto and paying for purchases with a separate, temporary on-ramping from fiat currencies.
4. An Obsession with Predicting the Future
With all the new methods of payments, crypto, AI, new fintech players, neo banks, open banking, new regulations…where is this all going?
This is why the payments industry is exciting these days!
So many options and innovation are raising a lot of questions about the future and where to place the best bets in a resource-limited world. No wonder, the industry is coming together to try to figure this all out with many sessions focused on the future.
5. A New Generation of Extraordinary Leaders
The ETA Young Payments Professional (ETA YPP) Scholar Program, in partnership with Discover Global Network, gives high-potential young industry professionals access to valuable resources that will help develop the next generation of payments leaders.
Payments is an exciting industry, especially now, and this is a great program to support interest. The ETA also recognized the top 40 leaders under 40, celebrating the game-changers of the payments industry. I personally know several of the leaders and met some others this week. They all have already achieved incredible milestones for their career.
With this level of enthusiasm and skill in the payments ranks, there’s no doubt this industry will continue to be a dynamic one in the coming years.
ETA TRANSACT 2023 was my first show under my new flag of Further Advisory. It was great to connect with my network in person and bring awareness to this great firm. People were engaged and the energy was high… because payments is an exciting place to be.
Further Advisory is a boutique management consultancy with deep expertise in the payments industry. Our experience in this sector has helped clients reinvent payment and credit models, enabling them to rethink experiences for consumers, small businesses, large enterprises, merchants, and B2B suppliers. We partner with payments institutions to accelerate their time-to-market for new products, facilitating faster and greater capture of customer wallet share.