Taking stock of the digital payments landscape

Originally published on bobsguide.

The EU Payment Services Directive II (PSD2) took effect in January, starting a trend towards increased competition by opening up the payments market to a new wave of payment service providers (PSPs) and fintechs.

To help navigate this evolving landscape we’ve compiled a list of some of the top mobile payment apps and digital payment services platforms.

Netherlands-based online payments processor Adyen was founded back in 2006. Since then, the company has processed more than €108bn worth of payments in 2017 alone. Its founders viewed the old methods and infrastructure as outdated and set out to build a payments platform capable of helping businesses grow and meet the new digital demands of the 21st-century consumer. The company name is rather fitting for such an ambitious undertaking, with Adyen being the Surinamese word for “start over again”. The digital payment services platform counts e-commerce powerhouse like eBay and peer-to-peer ridesharing and taxi network Uber among its clients.

It is impossible to talk about digital payment services platforms without mentioning Worldpay. It is easily one of the biggest players in the global payments market, partly due to its merger of equals deal with UK-based rival Vantiv which saw the newly formed London-headquartered company valued at more than $32bn. In a sector where size matters, Worldpay has grown its product range to include everything from card machines and point-of-sale (POS) terminals to online and email payments solutions. The company works closely with small and medium-sized enterprises and multinational corporations. On a daily basis Worldpay processes over 31 million mobile, online and in-store transactions, serving merchants in 146 countries.

The San Jose, California-based digital payment services platform PayPal recently acquired Swedish SME payments solutions specialist iZettle for a whopping $2.2bn this year. One of the market leaders in the payments space, PayPal’s rivals will need to watch the company’s movements carefully with its president and chief executive officer Daniel Schulman recently announcing that it is willing to deploy more than $3bn per annum on acquisitions in order to expand its global reach and enhance its payment capabilities. Its size is one of the reasons why PayPal’s mobile payment app is so widely used by consumers and businesses alike, allowing users to send money anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. PayPal even offers retail customers and SMEs access to credit facilities.

SafeCharge International
Advances in digital payment methods have driven a trend away from old, antiquated payment processes in favour of more dynamic online platforms that offer a wide range of services and products. To stay ahead of the curve and the competition, SafeCharge International has invested heavily to create one of the markets most transparent, reliable and flexible digital payment services platforms. The Guernsey-registered company has a strong strong presence in Europe, but has expanded its geographical coverage to major financial hubs like Singapore and New York City in order to access Asian and North American markets. Unlike some of its rivals, the company offers end-to-end payment solutions, offering everything from payment gateways, to mobile payment marketplace applications.

Isle of Man-based digital payments services provider Paysafe offers online merchants and high street retailers the ability to easily plug into its platform solution, helping them to process transactions quickly and securely. Its platform allows clients to easily onboard customers accounts, make money transfers, collect payments and route payouts to multiple users through its suite of application programming interfaces (APIs). Paysafe recently expanded its geographical footprint of its money transfer business, Skrill Send Direct; adding access to nine new countries: Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Morocco, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Western Union
The company is one of the largest players in cross-border payments and offers some of the most innovative methods for multi-currency money transfers. Its newest product is a bill payment platform that allows customers to pay their rent, mortgage or other payment cross-border in over 135 currencies. Western Union’s WU EDGE platform is a major revenue generator for the business, allowing SMEs to make cross-border transactions, access cash and risk management tools. But what makes Western Union unique is its strong network of physical branches, essential in economies that lack a strong digital payments infrastructure. In 2017, the company processed more than 800 million transactions for retail and business customers.

Google Pay
To keep pace with its rivals Google created its own alternative payment method in the form of Google Pay. Its mobile payment app offers users a faster, simpler and more transparent method of payment online, in-store and for myriad other partner products and services such as taxi rides, cinema tickets and food delivery. Google Pay is available as a method of payment across a number of chains including Transport for London (TfL), Airbnb and Deliveroo, to name just a few. Its popularity as an alternative payment method is not only due to its ease of use, but because personal information is stored safely with Google Pay boasting strong security protections and encryption.

Atos-owned Worldline is a european leader in the payments and transactional services industry, an accolade strengthened by its acquisition of Swiss exchange operator SIX Group’s payment services unit in May this year – a deal valued at over €2.3bn. The acquisition has given Worldline the scale to better serve its new and existing customers and drive the trend towards a truly cashless society in Europe. Worldline was founded back in 1973, which is a testament to its ability to invest effectively in order to evolve the methods in which it delivers its products and services to meet the demands of a market that has seen unprecedented change in the digital age.

US-based digital payments services platform Stripe specialises in servicing e-commerce to help companies operating in the space have access simple to use tools to create their online marketplaces and accept payments seamlessly. Stripe has invested heavily in its platform to add innovative features to its platform to assist online businesses in every part of the payments process. Everything from accepting and processing payments to settlement and reconciliation. It also has an excellent mobile payment app available on iOS and Android SDK, as well as on mobile web. Stripe also has partnerships with Alipay and iDEAL in order to ensure that its customers have access to payment networks around the world.

US-based Square helps millions of businesses to accept card payments with its Square Reader at a fraction of the cost of larger point of sale (PoS) providers. Its platform offers merchants big and small, in the high street and online, access to real-time analytics tools and inventory management solutions. Its latest product is its iPad PoS which epitomises what the company has always stood for; offering businesses a payment solution that is easy to acquire, setup and use, while also providing a level of service capable of competing with any of its rivals in the market.

Alibaba Group, the world’s largest e-commerce marketplace created online payment app and digital payment services platform Alipay in response to its US rivals creating their own alternative payment methods. As it stands, Alipay boasts more than 520 million users globally, offering privacy protection to make sure that businesses and their customers’ information stays personal and real-time monitoring on top of one of the best in-class payments platforms. Alipay has partnerships with the likes of Stripe to offer enhanced coverage in North America and other markets where it lacks its own payments infrastructure to ensure its customers can complete transactions anywhere and any time.

Swedish e-payments provider Trustly specialises in working with online merchants. The online payment solution provider, which allows direct transactions between bank accounts – eliminating middlemen such as Visa or Paypal – is established in 29 European countries.

Apple Pay
The list would not be complete without mentioning Apple Pay, which is arguably the most recognizable mobile payment app in the market, with the payments platform boasting more than 127 million users around the world, supported by around 2,700 banks. Apple Pay helps consumers and businesses process payments in app, in-store and online in a fast and secure manner. Apple was one of the first smartphone manufacturers to adopt biometric security features and has applied that application to its payments software, with users able to authorize transactions on their mobiles by simply resting their finger on its Touch ID application. Apple Pay also offers people the ability to easily add credit, debit or prepaid cards to its wallet, so in the event that a customer is leaves their purse at home they can still make necessary payments.

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