Maximizing Card Payment Success: Q&A with Jack Lamey

Insight Cards

While decades old, the world of credit cards continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Safety advancements, rewards programs and tailored offerings may make many of the headlines, but items such as regulations and fees continue to shape (and reshape) the credit card landscape.

Navigating this complex ecosystem can be a complicated task for any organization, particularly for those whose core business function rests outside of payments. To help achieve credit card clarity, Jack Lamey, Director of Emerging Payments for Paymentus, shares his thoughts on the top credit card trends organizations should be aware of, strategies to maximize success and how Paymentus can help keep billers ahead of rapid change.

Jack, when it comes to credit cards, there’s so much to consider from both a consumer and business perspective. How would you describe today’s credit card landscape?

First, the use of debit and credit cards continues to increase. We’ve seen recent data showing that cards are very popular in terms of bill pay, particularly with younger bill payers. This makes sense given that most young consumers are unlikely to use checks or cash to pay their bills, and cards fill that gap perfectly.

Second, economic concerns are really placing a greater emphasis on credit. In our latest How Americans Pay Their Bills report, we discovered that credit card bills increased 38% from their 2010 levels. This is not solely due to economics, however. Reward programs are driving greater usage, as well.

I think if organizations really want to invest in being where their consumers are, they should maximize their credit card offerings.

Following that, we know that debit and credit cards are unique as compared to other payment forms like ACH or mailed checks. What would you list as the top credit card-related trends right now?

Credit cards come with a sizable but necessary cost over other forms of payment, and are critical to a billers payment method ecosystem. However, this will invite a conversation about fee structures and whether your organization will choose to absorb costs or pass them to the consumer.

One thing we recommend to our clients is to understand the importance of managing their customers to ensure an optimal mix of payment types. What we mean by managing is influencing and educating customers so that payments flow through optimal methods and channels for that particular organization. This is why the Paymentus solution is designed to offer more ways to pay. It helps to offset the impact of becoming too payment channel heavy, particularly for a channel that automatically incurs fees.

But we also can’t overlook the multiple value components offered by card payments, which include self-service payment enablement, paperless eBilling, cross-sell and upsell opportunities. By understanding these extended benefits, we can work together to develop adoption strategies to meet business needs.

As it pertains to the above, how can clients work to address these needs and formulate effective strategies?

The starting point is for organizations to have a clear multi-year strategy on how they want to manage their payment mix. When we say that, we mean three to five years down the road, what does the ideal payment mix look like? For example, establishing KPIs for AutoPay growth or formulating a plan to make ACH easier to use from a mobile device.

It’s this level of strategic thinking that ensures organizations do not get heavy in any one particular payment area. Otherwise, you’re simply reacting to short- or near-term data and trends that may be unreliable and impacting your bottom line.

How do you weigh these long-term strategies with a focus on today? What’s something in the near future you think organizations should pay attention to?

There’s always going to be the question of security when it comes to any form of digital payment. This continues to place a huge responsibility on billers to protect customers but also to inform and educate them on safer digital payment practices.

“There needs to be an emphasis on combining a frictionless customer experience with a more secure customer experience.”

And as I said before, the cost challenges will always be present. This has more to do with increased usage rather than specific rates increasing. It’s important to keep in mind that many consumers typically do not understand or really care about the cost of payment acceptance. They’re concerned with ease and convenience. Through this lens, we can look to correct imbalances by optimizing channels to make them easier and more convenient to use.

What are some actions you would encourage Paymentus clients to do now to stay ahead of the dynamic credit card landscape?

I believe that we should be the ones asking our billers if they have a long-term plan for payments and the many facets and moving parts. Not to downplay the emphasis on changing fee structures or potential legislation, but those are largely incremental changes that won’t drastically impact the usage of cards.

Paymentus takes the approach of proactively helping to manage our clients’ payment acceptance as consumer preferences change. This is where we can provide maximum value to their business and best prepare them for the future. I would encourage all clients to ask for our guidance in this manner. And of course, we will keep them ahead of rules, regulations and fee structures as part of our value services.

Jack, thank you for your time today. Before we say goodbye, is there anything else you’d like to share?

Billers shouldn’t be intimidated by the proliferation of payment methods, whether it be credit cards or digital wallets. That’s why Paymentus is here. It’s our job to know the ins and outs of the industry and help inform your team. But above that, we are here to help billers of all types create the long-term strategies and vision that are essential to ongoing success. Credit cards may be increasingly popular, but they’re still just one part of a bigger picture. That’s the picture that we love helping our clients see.

Paymentus is proud to have been named the Best-in-Class solution provider by Aite-Novarica Group, while earning top scores for both Client Service and Product Features. Let’s talk to see how we can combine expanded capabilities and consultative approach to help you reach a new level of billing and payment success.