Letter from the Editor: Change Is Good, but Slow
Last month I celebrated eight years at Paybefore (thanks for the reminder LinkedIn!). When I joined the company in 2007, Google was just a search engine and Apple had nothing to do with payments. Prepaid was starting to take off but wouldn’t be mentioned in earnings calls as a key strategic focus for the major networks for a few more years. It was a time that many prepaid executives have compared to throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks—not everything did.
The prepaid industry and the broader payments landscape looks a lot different now. We’ve seen major prepaid players go public and broaden their reach. (Green Dot is now a bank and a tax refund processor). We’ve witnessed a lot of consolidation and we’ve seen technology companies and social media giants looking to stake their claims in a complex industry where established players are investing like crazy to stay relevant.
And, then there’s the Great Recession. Consumer trust in financial services hit an all-time low. Companies were retrenching just as the regulatory sands shifted beneath their feet and a whole host of new requirements became part of the cost of doing business. Meanwhile, mobile phone penetration globally set a new course for payments and financial inclusion. And, don’t forget about the effects of blockchain and the preferences of millennials (still to be determined).
Just about every day, I speak with someone or we write about something that “will change the industry.” There’s no denying the massive volume of investments being made to capitalize on or cause the next big shifts. But change is slow—especially when it comes to consumer behavior. That said, when I started writing about prepaid, I never could’ve predicted all the changes we’ve seen. I don’t expect I’d be too accurate if I tried to predict what will happen in the next eight years. But what excites me about my work—and the work you’re doing—are the possibilities we haven’t begun to imagine.
What excites you about the future? Please share your comments below.