Why Merchants Across the Globe Must Unite to Effect Change

19th December 2017
Callum Godwin
Callum Godwin
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Two heads are better than one. A problem shared is a problem halved. Many hands make light work.

These sayings, so culturally familiar to most of us, are phrases we hear repeated time after time in a variety of situations. Maybe your parents used them to encourage collaboration between you and your siblings? Perhaps your teacher had them as inspirational quotes on the classroom wall? Wherever and however you’ve heard them used, the message essentially boils down to the same conclusion: we can accomplish more together than we can apart. So why have payments professionals across the globe failed to recognize this and act accordingly?

The merchant community faces many challenges with regards to payments, and this mentality – that we can accomplish far more together than we can alone – could be perfectly applied to creating an internationally engaged merchant community.

At present, the merchant community is simply not doing enough to engage with each other internationally and share best-practices. Payment struggles differ from region to region. The U.S. has long been plagued with disproportionally high levels of fraud, 3D-Secure popularity varies by country, and contactless adoption differs around the world – to name just a few. So why aren’t U.S. merchants drawing on knowledge from European merchants who experience far lower levels of fraud, despite having similar transaction profiles? And likewise, why don’t merchants in countries such as Japan or the U.S. – where interchange fees are very high – seek advice from the more successful regulatory experiences of Australia, China or Europe?

The payments arena can be a battlefield, use whatever weapons you can.

The payments landscape is a fast evolving one, and keeping up with new trends and industry news can be challenging for even the largest merchants. That’s why drawing on resources from foreign countries’ experiences could be the most beneficial weapon in a merchant’s arsenal. How have other countries succeeded where yours has struggled? What methods did they use that could be helpful for you? What common issues do you share? Can you learn from their successes or failures?

A relevant, recent example is the rapid emergence of alternative payment technologies, WeChat and Alipay, in China. The Chinese market is in the midst of a huge learning curve with regards to these new technologies – which begs the question, how long before they migrate to the North American and European markets? Merchants from other countries should be engaging with Chinese merchants now to be prepared for changes in the future. In the U.S. for example, merchants would strongly benefit from the introduction of WeChat and Alipay as fees are generally much lower than U.S. card transaction fees.

There are so many lessons to be learned from merchants coming together and sharing knowledge and best-practices. By bringing together merchants from across the globe merchants can begin to strive for a global standard. This level of collaboration and transparency – on issues ranging from interchange regulation, EMV implementation, fraud regulation and innovation – would undoubtedly increase competition and expose inconsistencies that allow suppliers to overcharge and underperform.

These are huge issues and tackling them alone can feel like a mammoth task. So, merchants, when you’re feeling like you don’t know where to start – remember the old saying… many hands make light work.

For those merchants interested in coming together and sharing information with international merchants please contact Callum Godwin at cgodwin@cmspi.com.

CMSPI is hosting the International Payments Regulation Forum (IPRF) in November 2018, and we’d be happy to register your interest in this event and other cooperative initiatives.

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