Five things to consider when creating a payments platform

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The best business models are those that create a seamless exchange of products and services. At the heart of this lies the payments platform, which has quickly become a differentiator as consumers demand flexibility and choice. Payments platforms drive the commerce interactions we experience, but meeting customers’ needs and creating a competitive edge in any industry requires something more sophisticated than a basic payment platform.

About the author

Sujit Unni is Chief Technology Officer at Paysafe.

Here are the five things to consider when you’re looking to build a payments platform that is capable of transforming your business.

1. Tune in to the needs of your customers

Ask yourself why we choose to pay in different ways. It’s not because we want a token gesture of the latest cutting-edge payment tech, it’s because it improves our transaction experiences - whether that’s access to instant 24/7 payments online or a streamlined, expediated checkout.

We choose the options that make our lives easier and get us to our desired outcomes faster. Banks may offer loans, overdrafts, and credit cards - but they’re really just selling lending in different guises. For the consumer, it’s not about the product, but how they achieve their goals of buying a car, meeting their monthly bills on time, or going on a shopping spree. The design of your payments platform should be driven by the convenience payments provide to the customer and the problem you’re trying to solve for them. Key to this is shifting from a focus on siloed products to the experience as a whole: anytime, anywhere, any method of transactions.

2. Find the right build balance

The beauty of an open, integrated ecosystem is that wherever you operate, you can collaborate with specialists that are able to accelerate issue resolution and find solutions quicker than you can. This requires an understanding of what your strengths are, and knowing when and what to build, and how to go about it.

Many businesses can lose sight of what they’re trying to achieve, becoming more of a pipeline business than a platform one. The technology you build should be around your core competencies and look to partner in areas which aren’t your strong points. The best payment platforms allow you to focus on innovating and serving customers competitively.

3. Futureproof your platform from the get-go

A flexible payments platform needs to be futureproofed with the ability to scale in line with a growing business and customer base. It should make use of emerging and evolving tech such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and advanced analytics and be interoperable with the ability to connect with peers, third-party providers, and even competitors.

So while you have to focus on your business’s current goals, your platform must be able to adapt to market dynamics and your changing business requirements. Having a forward-looking API strategy is key to creating a payments platform where innovation thrives in a collaborative space. From private APIs with select partners to public APIs open to external developers - your API sophistication will determine the level of innovation and creativity you can achieve in driving customer experience to new levels.

4. Prioritize integration and openness

The benefits of an open payments ecosystem cannot be emphasized enough. Our competitors are now our partners, and organizations benefit greatly from the ability to plug into each other’s APIs. We now operate within more innovative and collaborative environments which is revolutionizing the payments industry, enabling all players to bring to market new solutions that add value. Everyone - especially consumers - stand to gain from an open ecosystem, so it’s important to work towards integration, but this won’t happen overnight. It requires an ongoing focus on the wider goal and developing your API strategy to support your vision.

5. A winning culture is the secret to winning solutions

We know that a company’s culture is critical to its success. Technology alone isn’t going to create the best experience for customers. You have to look at the functioning of your payments platform in the context of your entire business and, importantly, work to a common goal driven by what your customers want to achieve and how you can facilitate that.

You need to bring classic product management and platform capabilities together in the right environment to ensure success. The whole team needs to understand the value of a well-functioning platform. This is especially important for businesses which operate with a more siloed approach internally.

In summary, as payments continue to deliver new experiences for consumers, understanding the components of a great payments infrastructure is key to success. It’s not enough to say you’re a platform business - your systems need to reflect that by being open, easy to integrate, and flexible. But perhaps most important of all is having a laser focus on customers’ outcomes and designing tech that’s going to deliver those faster.

Sujit Unni is Chief Technology Officer at Paysafe.