Five Minutes with First Data
By Adam Perrotta, Assistant Editor, Paybefore
Atlanta-based payments processor First Data Corp. had a busy 2013—and two of the company’s most noteworthy moves during the year were aimed at serving small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). In late October, First Data announced it had acquired Perka, provider of a mobile marketing and consumer loyalty platform that enables SMBs to better engage with customers via location-based smartphone apps. That announcement came just weeks after First Data launched Clover Station, a cloud-based POS terminal that combines payment card processing with management tools like inventory monitoring and payroll integration, giving SMBs an out-of-the-box solution for multiple business needs. The Clover Station release stems from First Data’s 2012 acquisition of Clover Inc., the Mountain View, Calif.-based startup that developed the platform.
As the dust settled on a busy 2013, Paybefore had a quick chat with First Data’s Ben Love, vice president, product, to get some insight into those moves, as well as the future of payments.
Paybefore: What was the strategy behind the acquisitions of Perka and Clover, both of which seem to be moves targeted toward serving SMBs?
Ben Love: Technological advancements, especially in the mobile commerce space, give SMBs new opportunities to effectively reach customers. Clover and Perka both offer unique solutions to SMBs and boast strong client bases within this market. These acquisitions broaden our portfolio and expand our modern merchant solutions. As the payments industry evolves, we look forward to continuing this momentum with our customers and solution partners.
Paybefore: Everybody’s asking whose mobile wallet will win the “wallet wars.” Is this the right question to be asking?
B.L.: U.S.-based companies developing mobile wallets are down from their peak of nearly 150 at the end of 2012, to slightly less than 50 as of December 2013. However, even with this consolidation, there is not currently a clear winner when it comes to mobile wallets. While there may not be a defined answer today, businesses can test the waters with varying mobile wallet solutions to gain experience and stay relevant.
Paybefore: What will help industry players compete as “omnichannel” takes hold?
B.L.: Industry players need to understand what solutions are best suited to meet the needs of their clients’ customers. As multichannel consumers demand multichannel options, payment processors need to ask how they can best educate and enable their clients with next-generation POS and business management solutions. One step necessary to compete in the future is merging online and offline presence. For example, the consolidation of technology has spurred the industry to combine selling tactics so they happen simultaneously from behind the counter and through consumers’ smartphones and mobile apps. To operate successfully online and offline, it’s critical for industry players to be in front of the latest technological advancements, use mobile devices to engage consumers and offer clients the digital solutions their customers demand.