Much of the attention in the payments industry goes toward the consumer-facing side of the relationship. It shouldn't be a complete surprise because the success of new technology ultimately resides in the hands of customers who are willing to test out and, hopefully, embrace the latest and greatest systems. However, banks and financial services providers play a major role in enabling merchants to deliver innovative experiences to their customers. As a result, it's up to banks and similar institutions to understand what their merchant account holders want and need as the payments industry continues to evolve.
With this in mind, here are a couple of ways that banks can address their clients
Provide merchants with services and products
A recent opinion article from PaymentsSource highlighted the fact that many of the merchant services offerings aren't keeping pace with the changes in technology and consumer expectations. For instance, it was once fairly standard that creating a merchant account amounted to providing a terminal and not much else. How times have changed! Today, merchants look to the financial institution providing them with their merchant account for a variety of products and services. These solutions can include:
These options are hardly an exhaustive list, but the more important point is that banks need to recognize which of these solutions will fit the needs of their merchant account holders. The relationships that financial institutions create with business owners rely on transparency of needs and having flexible options that will accommodate the circumstances facing any merchant.
Equip reps with options and knowledge
Beyond being responsive to the needs of business clients, merchant account representatives should be able to leverage the products and services at their disposal to actively diagnose and explore payment solutions opportunities with their customers.
The Atlantic recently painted a pretty glaring portrait of the rapid development in payments, starting with rudimentary bartering systems and arriving at the current upswelling of support for mobile payments. For instance, Starbucks has had significant success with its mobile app, as roughly 13 million customers use it regularly to pay for goods at the coffee chain's stores, wrote The Atlantic. While credit and debit card payments have become thoroughly entrenched in most commercial settings, the rise of phone-based solutions is currently underway.
Banks should push to give their merchant account reps greater insight into their clients' position in the local economy and what services would benefit them most. With sufficient research into the customer base operating in a given location, reps should be able to explain whether or not it would be a smart decision to invest in mobile payments or an e-commerce solution. If smartphone adoption rates are low in a specific region or broadband access is limited, then these offerings may not make the most sense.
Regardless, the key point is banks need to be prepared and informed about what the best payment solutions are for every client in their merchant account portfolio. By doing so, they can solidify relationships and maintain them over the long term.