The Strawhecker Group recently released its latest report on U.S. merchant acquirers. Titled Directory of U.S. Merchant Acquirers, it provides data on more than 256 acquirers and ISOs, including processing volume, number of transactions, technology, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity, and other factors contributing to growth.
Most noteworthy to Jared Drieling, TSG's Senior Director of Business Intelligence, is that Worldpay now occupies the No. 1 spot. "There was a large merger between Worldpay and Vantiv and now, under the Worldpay brand, it has become the largest merchant acquirer," he told The Green Sheet.
He added that M&A activity has been brisk over the past 12 to 18 months, particularly among the top 50 acquirers, which are eager to gain technological assets. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is that the industry is top heavy. "In the U.S, there's $5.5 trillion in card spending each year, and the top 10 acquirers process about 80 percent of all those dollars," Drieling said.
That doesn't mean significant growth isn't occurring further down the list, particularly for the companies that have partnered with or acquired ISVs and/or state-of-the-art gateways and are approaching merchants with comprehensive business solutions, rather than leading with payment processing. Experts have long discussed the need to make this transition. The data from TSG indicates companies doing so are succeeding.
Reflecting upon the traditional acquiring model, Drieling said, "Upgrades, cost, service problems, software that's not interconnected, different portals that aren't talking to each other – these can be a nightmare for merchants."
He said what leads to excellent outcomes for all is to come in with a "what can we do for you?" approach. "Ask, 'How can we make your business more efficient?'" he said. "Let them know they no longer have to access multiple portals but instead can use one touchscreen to operate and view everything in real time. And with cloud-based features, the merchant can be on vacation and still have access to all information."
Square, which with $60 billion in processing volume hit the No. 12 spot, exemplifies this shift. "Square has been moving up quite rapidly," Drieling said. "Clearly, it's no longer a dongle company; it's much more a software-focused company. They're diversifying. … And they're no longer focused just on micro merchants."
Opportunity also exists in offering integrated business services to relatively untapped markets, like B2B and government payments, as well as merchants in traditional verticals who have shied away from traditional electronic payments, Drieling noted. "Overall, the payments industry is very healthy," he said. "It's a tide that's raising all boats."
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