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Industry Views: Ushering in a New Year

To kick off 2017, we asked industry leaders to tell us what happened in 2016 that will most affect their businesses and where they will be investing in 2017 and why.

llach_teriWe’re continuing to help our partners grow their business using branded value solutions—such as gift cards, e-gifts, loyalty and rewards—for commerce and incentives. Consumers’ perceptions of brands continue to be positive, and merchants can work with Blackhawk in customized ways to manage and use branded value to connect to people in store, digitally or through incentives.

Blackhawk will also continue to innovate its products and solutions in order to grow the use of branded value through loyalty, wallet and retail channels. For example, recently, we introduced our digital pass technology which enables gift cards, e-gifts, loyalty cards and rewards programs to integrate with mobile wallets.

In terms of 2016 impacts, the rollout of EMV-compliant point-of-sale terminals created changes for our distribution partners. Prior to becoming EMV-compliant, some retailers were temporarily limiting or trying to control the sales of high-value gift cards. 2017 will be a year in which we’ll see a return to best practices in terms of in-store gift cards.

We also saw major advancements in technology. Major industry players such as Apple and Samsung are adopting new technologies to incorporate gift cards, e-gifts, loyalty and reward cards into their mobile wallets. In 2017, it will be easier for consumers to pay using gift cards loaded into their mobile wallets, while simultaneously earning rewards and loyalty points at participating merchants through just a touch of their devices.

Teri Llach, Chief Marketing Officer, Blackhawk Network


Prepaid is one of the most flexible, powerful payment tools available, and we have invested heavily over the years to create prepaid products that are truly differentiated. From apps that enhance the user experience to Zero Liability for registered cards to biometrics, we believe prepaid can be the ultimate safe, secure and smart cash alternative for both the banked and unbanked. In 2017, we’re focused on broadening the prepaid ecosystem—enabling account usage and acceptance and securing solid returns on investments for all participants. We’re looking to apply the full muscle of Mastercard innovation to expand prepaid’s growth and create new payment opportunities through partnerships. We believe the possibilities of innovations like virtual gift cards and our humanitarian delivery solution, Mastercard Aid Network, will make prepaid even more attractive for both existing and new customers and partners, while introducing prepaid to new consumers around the world.

I believe that 2016 marked a turning point for digital payments. The near ubiquity of smartphones in markets like the U.S. has finally been complemented with services that make paying with your device simple and secure. Wallets like Masterpass as well as Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and others, are now available in markets around the world. This past year, roughly one-fifth of all U.S. smartphone users used their phone to pay at the point of sale, accounting for more than $27 billion in transactions, according to eMarketer. As we look ahead to 2017, ensuring that prepaid cards, and other cards, are designed to meet the digital needs of consumers will be critical to our strategy.

—Andrew Buckley, Executive Vice President, Global Prepaid Solutions, Mastercard


2016 taught us that card issuers are hungry for better options to manage the velocity of change in our real-time digital economy while staying competitive with compelling payments offerings. In 2017, we’re focusing even more on bringing sustainable innovation to the world of credit, and leveraging our expertise and pedigree in helping issuers flawlessly execute complex debit, credit and prepaid programs. Last year, we spent 500,000 engineering hours on product and processing platform innovation; this year, we will make a bigger investment, particularly in digital integration across all our services and offerings.

Our goal is to give credit issuers better options, so they can innovate on their terms and time frame, rather than letting limitations of legacy infrastructure decide that for them. We’ll continue to work closely with customers to enable their payments road-map vision based on their business requirements, like curating better experiences with advanced integrated engagement tools like omnichannel Web and mobile delivery, card controls and multistep alerts.

—Lisa Fugate, Vice President, Global Product Management, i2c Inc.

hampton_billData analytics is an area where we predict growth in 2017. Everyone should know more about their customers to reach them in the way they want to be reached and allow them to pay in their preferred method—whether online, mobile wallet, in store or in app. At Vantiv we’re working with our merchants and our financial institutions to help them know more about their customers.

Meanwhile, fraudsters are getting smarter and that means that banks, credit unions and businesses will need to get smarter as well. We expect to see up to $10 billion in fraud to be committed between now and 2020. Fraud is moving in response to EMV and we need to be vigilant in fighting fraud with EMV, tokenization and encryption. Security was a very important trend in 2016 and we expect it to be even more so in 2017.

—Bill Hampton, SVP & General Manager of Financial Institution Services, Vantiv


We’ve been amazed by the response to our launch in the U.S. at the end of 2016. We’re hoping the keen interest from the market will continue and are already finding ourselves investing to expand our U.S. operations. There’s a lot happening in the U.S. as well as Europe at the moment, and a lot of exciting new developments for a number of our clients, so we’re expecting a busy and rewarding 2017 both for Neopay and the businesses we support.

Brexit certainly had the greatest emotive impact in the U.K., as with the Presidential election in the U.S. Obviously, with Brexit it will be a long time before we know what the impact will be, but the market seems to have recovered from the initial shock and we now are excited by the potential new opportunities for our market in the U.K. and Europe. With discussions over new trade deals and our relationships with regions outside Europe being redefined and improved, we may not know exactly what our opportunities will look like in a few years’ time, but the potential is extraordinary.

—Craig James, CEO, Neopay Ltd.


2016 was the first year that cash was no longer the single largest source of consumer payment value globally. Although a slim margin, total card payment value surpassed cash by accounting for 44.1 percent of consumer payment value compared with 43.0 percent. Over the forecast period, this transition of consumer payments is expected to continue where card payment value will represent 49.1 percent of all value by 2021. The successful transition to card payments can be attributed to greater access to financial products and services globally, the adoption of card-friendly payment policy, and the rapid adoption of cards in China over the past decade. Despite the progress, over the forecast period there is potential for disruption to the traditional payment space as more electronic transfer platforms reach both remote consumers in emerging markets and younger and more technologically advanced consumers in developed markets.

—Kendrick Sands, Senior Consumer Finance Analyst, Euromonitor International

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