Each year, Glenbrook attempts the impossible – to create a simple table showing U.S. payments system volumes, by both “amount” (dollar value) and “count” (number of transactions) – all mapped to payments domains. We use the term “domain” to refer to the purpose of the payment – so that purchases at the point of sale, bill payment, person-to-person payments, etc. are domains.
This year’s analysis, of calendar year 2008, again highlights areas of enormous opportunity for providers of payments systems and services. The sheer volume of checks still dominating the B2B payments domain is the most obvious – but there are other opportunities – such as for ACH at the point of sale – that are equally intriguing.
Building this table is not an easy task! Some payments systems publish numbers, others don’t. It is rare for systems to publish numbers that can translate directly into domains – the ACH network gets credit for doing the best job of that. Pundits and analysts do their own estimates – usually within domains – but it’s tricky to get definitions right (or at least aligned).
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Why do we do this exercise? To start with, we like to take a comprehensive view of the payments industry. Our Payments Boot Camps and Private Workshops help payments professionals and outsiders to the payments industry understand how the industry works and how it is changing. An important element of this change is the move by payments systems into new domains – think of ACH based eCommerce purchases, or PIN debit for online bill payment.
Secondly, Glenbrook’s payments strategy consulting business serves clients that are providing solutions in the industry (card networks, processors, banks, payments service providers, technology firms), or are users of payments services (merchants, corporate treasury staffs, billers). Many companies which are successful within one square of our grid are interested in expanding into others – we help these client evaluate their opportunities and develop strategies for attacking them. Seen this way, the Payments Systems and Domains grid is a map to the profit pools available in the business.
Please contact me with your comments. We’d also like your insight! Let us know if you have a better way of quantifying our empty squares or enhancing our assumptions. We would appreciate your collaboration – we really enjoy the collective power of the network of payments professionals that we work with at Glenbrook.