Listen and Adapt: The Future of the Commercial Card Market
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Listen and Adapt: The Future of the Commercial Card Market

Posted by Martha Salinas on Monday, April 4, 2011

The third annual Global Commercial Cards & Payments Summit was hosted by Commercial Payments International in New York last month. If this conference hasn’t come across your calendars yet, you must be fairly new to our blog (Welcome!). Every year, I come back from CPI with a long list of ideas – as proven by my series of posts (here, here and here) on last year’s event. This year, I had the privilege of being a speaker at the event, and, as always, I am grateful for the opportunity to network with colleagues in the commercial payments sector.

This year, three major topics seemed to arise in every breakout session: prepaid, mobile and the single-use card. The topics are not a surprise. Prepaid and Mobile at the very least have made huge headlines over the past 18-months, from the U.S. Government’s announcement that it will issue tax refunds on prepaid cards to any number of battles over the mobile payments space.

And the over-arching theme, was no surprise either: “Innovation, innovation, innovation.” Consumer demand for convenient, secure payment methods have driven payments technology into rapid innovation, but the future, especially within the commercial sector, is up for grabs.

There is an excellent Radiolab Podcast on this topic called “What Does Technology Want?”, I’m am sure that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of R&D dollars are being poured into determining that future. What’s so interesting (and reassuring) to me, is that despite small R&D budgets, Multi Service is active within all of these trending areas. And I believe the main reason we’ve kept pace is because of our customers and prospects. They are the ones continuously pushing us toward new solutions.

We are constantly falling into conversations about business problems that have been dubbed “solutionless.”  In fact, my presentation at CPI, focused around five categories of payment challenges that have caused almost every one of our clients and prospects to assume their payment program would be impossible to implement – until they spoke with us – yet, they all fall into definable and predictable categories.

Maybe, as they say in the Radiolab podcast, there is no true “Eureka!” moment. There is simply an ability to recognize a business problem and apply existing technology to develop a solution. These are the unicorns we discover in conversations with customers. These are the cheetah-like solutions built by our fantastic systems team. Because innovation can’t happen in a vacuum. Innovation is the result of collaboration, events like CPI that will shape the future of the commercial payments sector. Listening and adapting – it’s the greatest bit of inspiration I gleaned from the conference – and that’s saying something!

--Martha

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