Payment Processing Services: Change Was Inevitable

SMBs may be VARs’ best opportunity, but they’ll require more time and guidance.

One of the most pervasive changes that occurred in 2020 was how people or organizations paid for goods and services. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, in-person transactions gave way to e-commerce, recurring payments, bank transfers and other forms of payment that enabled people to keep their distance but still conduct business. The challenge for value-added resellers (VARs) and other solutions providers is equipping their clients with the payment processing services they needed to adapt.

Justin Price, Vice President of Sales, and Josh Johnstone, Director of Solutions Marketing for ScanSource, look back at the evolution of payment processing services in 2020 and what you and your clients can expect in the payments space 2021.

Looking back over 2020, what are the most significant changes you’ve seen in the payments industry?

Price: Payments, specifically the way that people pay, has undergone a massive shift recently. The pandemic has significantly sped up much of this change. It has simply pushed forward the timeline that businesses need to adopt more modern and nimble solutions. Online ordering used to be nice to have. Now it’s mandatory. Curbside pickup and delivery have instantly become survival mechanisms for many merchants. For payments, hardware integration is a key component – integration with the point of sale (POS), the gateway, and the processor.

Were all of the changes pandemic-driven, or were some the result of tech advancements or other drivers?

Johnstone: Change has been on the horizon for a while. The pandemic likely pushed forward the timeline, but it didn’t necessarily change what was inevitable. Payments are becoming part of the platform. Merchants are looking for a solution that satisfies all of their needs and is easy to consume. They want a platform they can plug into that will provide them everything from POS to time management, accounting, inventory, and payments integration. The pandemic made additional features like curbside pickup and order delivery more important and more immediately relevant, but it didn’t change the fundamental need of the marketplace.

Do you think changes in consumer behaviors and preferences will continue into 2021?

Johnstone: Yes, for sure. The changes being made now are going to be around for a long time. In fact, the adaptations that the industry is currently going through will likely become the new standard from here on out. Consumers aren’t going to go back to the “way things were.” We have made a permanent change to the landscape.

What are your predictions for payment processing services moving into 2021?

Price: Integration is key. Payments has to be integrated across an increasingly complex landscape of processors, gateways, ISVs, and other providers. That makes things complex, but payments acceptance will always be at the heart of the merchant’s needs. The expertise and knowledge about how to piece together disparate entities like software partners, hardware providers, and distributors is going to be a key differentiator. As this all becomes more complex, those who can execute quickly and efficiently are going to win the land grab.

What advice can you offer VARs and other solutions providers to address current needs or prepare for the year ahead?

Price: Larger companies will take more time. The SMB space is more nimble, which means it will move quickly to new solutions. SMBs will be willing to adopt technology faster and will invest in it sooner. Their survival depends on it. But, they will need more assistance with it. Software will likely be the place they start their journey; the hardware, services, and support that are required become the real opportunities.