How to use payments data as a strategic advantage

Perfection.

That is what Ilie Ardelean & Bryan Walley, the CPO and COO of Exactuals pursue every day in the payments space.

In our first episode of Payments Innovation, we sat down with Ilie and Bryan to talk about how they pursue a perfect customer experience with a constant eye on compliance, diligence, and accuracy.

We also talked about the importance of strategic payments data and future payment trends.

Strategic payments

Many people view payments as “the last mile” in managing customer experience and relationships in a business.  While this is true, payments also come into play with many different aspects of business, not just final payment for an order or paying an employee salary.

Having a solid knowledge of your payment structure and process informs the “miles” your customers go through before they ever get to the literal exchange of funds. Then—by extension—knowing those “other miles” helps you nail down which technologies you can use (data cleanup, automation, machine learning) to make your processes more efficient and provide accurate consultation for your clients.

It almost goes without saying: more efficiency in strategic payments sets you head and shoulders above your competition.

And you’ll need to be as smooth as possible if you want your customers and payees to be able to pay globally.

Global payments are extremely complex, and customers using payments solutions often don’t understand the hoops they need to jump through or the strategic advantages of payment data.  Part of this is due to how effectively payments companies hide these complexities from the customer to make for a great user experience. But once they understand some of these complexities, they can begin to grasp how large of an impact payments solutions have on their business.

Some of the complexities and options are familiar, and some aren’t:  Traditional checks, Western Union, pre-paid cards. But there are different things to worry about for each of these solutions:

Fees.

Guaranteeing safe delivery.

More Fees.

A huge strategic advantage that payments solutions companies offer is narrowing down options for clients to a binary, business-oriented decision. “We have these two electronic funds transfers options, here are the pros and cons to each one, now which do you choose?”  Doing this lets customers focus their time and efforts toward their core competencies instead of worrying about how to pay who they are doing business with.

“Do you want to be storing bank account information for your payees?  Do you want that liability? Because it comes at a risk.” – Bryan Walley

This trend of outsourcing established payments structures—and not building them internally—relieves companies of a lot of liability. If your company isn’t solely focused on making payment structures and solutions, why in the world would you want to carry all your customers’ banking information?

But with all this liability, companies intent on creating payment solutions have a lot of pressure to perform these tasks well. We have a word for the goal.

Perfection

Perfection is the bar for managing payments.  That’s what it takes so ensure global transactions go through without a hitch and people get their money on time.  Error messages, loading screens, and server timeouts can make people’s days turn sour very quickly.

Customers need to ship their orders, purchase their items, and send funds to loved ones.  All this grinds to a halt if payments fail.

So, what are some ways to achieve this perfection?  It’s a three-fold process: accuracy, diligence and compliance.

You can achieve accuracy with thorough testing of new payment processes to make sure they’re as seamless as possible. Your diligence will be what separates you from your competitors.  Take the extra steps; don’t think “it’s good enough” or “we’ll fix that on Tuesday”. Ensure your process is airtight from the onset.

“Our goal is perfection, and anything below perfection, we’re all having the worst day possible.”  – Bryan Walley

There’s no way around it: having so much banking information as a payment company makes your business a target for theft.  Going above and beyond with compliance is the final piece of perfection that can really set your business apart. Eventually, you’ll have to meet certain compliance standards, and if you are already surpassing them (because it is the right thing to do and the right way to behave) you will have nothing to worry about.

Attacks are never going to stop, but by bolstering your compliance and strengthening your defenses, you can slow them down. Prioritizing compliance at the beginning stages of building a new payment solution rather than shoehorning it in at the end makes all the difference in the world.

Payments data points

There is so much data surrounding why each payment is made.  Analytics and data points are just as important to the payments business as the cash being moved.

If a payments company can provide key insight for their customers in a palatable manner, that company becomes a key strategic partner that helps grow their customer’s business.

By taking the time to analyze this data, payments companies really start to understand the businesses their customers run.  At this point, they can leverage the data surrounding each transaction to answer questions the customer didn’t even know they should be asking.  This becomes key in terms of predictive analytics: if a customer can see a roadmap of the future based on the data surrounding all of their payment transactions, they can make more informed decisions about where to invest in the future.

Key trends

Speaking of the future, both Ilie and Bryan have similar thoughts of where payments are going in the next few years.  Their first prediction is the long-awaited death of physical checks. If the payment ideal is to reduce friction and make processes more automated, then physical checks are on their way out.  There are better solutions, and Ilie and Bryan are making them more accessible every day.

The growth of global payments is expected to triple in the next seven years with a large amount of that growth coming from the Asian and South American markets.  This presents unique challenges for money moving across borders, but also huge opportunities for payments companies to make this process seamless for customers.

Ilie and Bryan also believe that advancements in Artificial Intelligence will make their way into this space.  This will be particularly useful in the data space. Leveraging some of this deep machine learning will help companies pick out trends in their business that were previously hidden.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Ilie Ardelean & Bryan Walley from Exactuals. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Payments Innovations.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.

How to use payments data as strategic advantage