eCommerce Thoughts 2015

29 Sept 2015

Money 2020 in 4 weeks! My session is on Tuesday at 11:35. We are talking data and collaboration. Look forward to seeing all of you.

I’ve been on the hunt for a good article on the impacts to “eCommerce acquiring” from tokenization, new rate tiers, authentication, mobile… and I’m still looking. Payments is a very enigmatic space! Its just hard to believe that top 10 payment players have no idea of what each other are doing. Industry consortiums and utilities are much more political than they are threatening.. as their support at the CEO level and at the operating level are completely different. Example “Real time payments”.. A regulatory driven initiative that no top 10 bank wants to say no to.. but with no business case. So it just plods along on a 10-15 year cycle. Why would anyone in their right mind want to work on this initiative? Particularly when Square, Facebook, Google and Paypal all do real time payments for free through debit networks.. NOW.

As I outlined earlier this year in Structural Changes in Payments, there are 6 key areas that are impacting all payments:

  • Risk and Identity
  • Data/Commerce Value
  • Consumer Behavior/Trust/Acceptance
  • Issuance/Customer Acquisition/HCE
  • Regulatory/Rates/Rules (Fees)
  • Mobile/Payment in the OS

Today’s blog is on how these structural changes, and new solutions, are driving changes within eCommerce (payments). eCommerce is a “lumpy” business with 4 “payment” players managing 70%+ of the $190B in eCommerce transaction volume:

  • Cybersource US $80-100B
  • PayPal + GSI $50-60B
  • Amazon $90B
  • Walmart.com $14B

Obviously adding these figures up shows volume greater than the $190B in eCommerce sales, so a little more detail is necessary (Example I believe Chase Paymentech clears for Amazon, part of WMT and PYPL). What do each of these players do? For example Cybersource nits together acquirers, fraud services and methods of payments. Amazon and GSI layer on Logistics, shipping and website hosting. These are 4 very different companies. There will be some VERY large changes in eCommerce Payments which positively impact merchants, but will be detrimental to pure-play intermediaries. What was a specialized service (fraud mgmt, cards on file, checkout hosting, … etc) is becoming a commodity. Due to the improved ability to authenticate and consumer moves toward mobile.

I was amazed that I couldn’t find any articles that go through eCom intermediary services, and the impending changes that will impact payments in eCommerce. The payments industry is certainly one of the most opaque… not only is there a lack of academic courses on the subject, you can’t find any public articles that articulate what is happening. For example, a logical question for investors: What will impact PayPal US margins in next 3 yrs? How does Cybersource compete against PayPal? How do the services compare? I challenge you to find this in the press.

History

Before I start a discussion of the disruption and margin, I’ll give you my view on the history of eCommerce. The entire founding team of Paypal knows this much better than I do.. but let me attempt to summarize. In mid 90s consumers could buy things on the web.. the challenge was that banks had no way to manage card no present risk and fraud. Paypal and CYBS created CNP risk models. The key change here is that perfect authentication destroys the need for most risk and fraud (exceptions are credit risk and 1st party fraud… like taking your grandmothers card and using it).

Early stage companies don’t have time (or capital) to invest in large payments teams. In the eCommerce world, online stores went to gateway providers, In the mobile world Stripe and Braintree serve this function. What do Gateway’s do?? I would love to see a service matrix for the industry.. but since I couldn’t find one .. here is my list:

Front End

  • Checkout page (hosting)
  • Fraud services
  • Management of cards on file
  • Distribution of merchandise (example GSI)

Back End

  • Acquirer integration
  • Payment acceptance
  • PCI compliance
  • Taxes
  • Receipt

cybersource US

 

 

As small companies grow up their needs change. In phase 0 most start ups can’t afford to create a payments team. As they mature and go global they can’t afford not to. How do I accept multiple currencies? Paypal? Alipay? JCB? Qiwi?… Then there is global cash management, tax, compliance, … AND THE TECHNOLOGY CHANGE.

 

One of the big lessons we learned at 41st Parameter (now part of Experian) was that the market for eCommerce fraud services was very small. The big merchants (Amazon, Walmart, …) created their own tools, as did the big Gateways (Cybersource, Paypal, Digital River, etc) to serve the SMALL MERCHANTS. It was the medium size businesses that were too big to outsource to a specialist, and too small to create their own tools, where there was a market (example Airlines, Banks, Top Retailers, …).

 

eCommerce Service Providers – Long Tail Impacts

 

 

 

Of all the areas of payments, eCommerce is undergoing the most radical transformation. The reasons? All of the structural items listed above AND new entrants.

 

I like PayPal!

 

I am not a paypal hater, however I will continue to poke them for silly moves (like Xoom and Paydiant, and Kingsboro’s POS push). They are well positioned for 25%+ CAGR for years…. But they must change focus back to their core SMBs and “long tail” merchants.

 

Why long tail? Frequent readers of my blog know that roughly 60% of Acquiring profits are generated by the bottom third of the merchant base. Small merchants are where the margins are. If I were CEO of Paypal this is where I would focus my complete attention, as this is where Paypal has excelled (and it is where profitability resides). No one has proven an ability to acquire SMBs at scale other than Paypal in eCommerce.. NO ONE. Most of their competitive threats deal with consumer “Front End” components of the gateway value propositions (ex ApplePay). This does NOT address the merchant side (back end).

 

Paypal is by far the best in class SMB eCommerce Acquirer…. BUT

1) traditional acquirers are beginning to break in as the barriers to entry are disappearing AND

2) front end solutions like Apple Pay/Microsoft One Pay and VPP are coming to market AND

3) consumer behavior mobile shift

4) Payments are costs are moving to 0 and being bundled (ex. Google offering free shipping too)

5) Authentication is killing their core risk management asset

6) Networks are creating a new rate tier and shifting risk to banks for eCom (160 bps and no risk, vs Paypals 375 bps and merchant borne risk)

 

All these are threatening their existing base and growth. However most of these items DO NOT impact Paypal’s merchant acquiring directly. Paypal is a natural alliance partner of: MERCHANTS, CHASE, AMEX, and Private Label. I believe that something will happen here… the issue isn’t financial it is focus/alignment. Paypal is a super efficient on us network, that prices at Amex rates. Chase and Amex have this same strategy. Merchants want payments for free.. hence the challenge in working their directly without some other massive value proposition (see paypal at POS). My recommendation to Paypal is the same as the original founders: Stay focused on long tail merchants… forget about dragon slaying wal-mart… there is no margin at the high end merchants.

 

Networks – Card holder present

 

Tokens in Mobile, will make their way to tokens in browser and create a new form of mobile authentication which will enable payment networks to create a MUCH improved version of VBV/MSC, shifting liability onto the bank with an interchange rate between CNP and CP. Who can take advantage of this rate and liability shift? Entities that can authenticate the consumer on the mobile device (Apple, Google, ?MNOs), securely manage a token and broker identity with other parties (see Authentication in Value Nets).

 

How will Visa/MA roll this out? There are many, many lessons learned in the prior 3DS (VBV/MSC) roll out. Already V/MA have been talking to major issuers and eCommerce service providers. Token issuance is currently a bit of a hang up as the issuers want to get their own TSP services up and running, and the Google/Amazon, … want to run their own TSPs. If everyone would agree to use the V/MA TSP services this could happen quite quickly. But because this is NOT the case, ApplePay and Visa Checkout seem to be the only services positioned for this move.

 

As I outlined in December 2014 mCommerce/eCommerce Converge, there will be a new rate tier: Cardholder present. When? Next 12 months is my guess. What does this mean. Merchants that accept tokens in eCommerce will get a reduction in fees (assuming acquirer/gateway passes on) AND liability will shift onto issuing bank (aka VBV/MSC circa 2006). In the US this means 140-180 bps AND liability shift….

 

As I stated previously in my ApplePay blog, when this new rate tier hits, it will free Apple (and others) to transfer the token to the merchant across a greater number of protocols. In store this means that NFC will compete with a BLE experience, with NFC carrying a CP rate and others carrying a Cardholder present rate (and bank liability) that is very close to the CP rate.

 

I must end here.. I have been working on this silly blog for 4 weeks (part time).

 

Sorry for typos

2 thoughts on “eCommerce Thoughts 2015”

  1. Why would the networks (banks) move to CP rates for browser-based transactions and accept fraud risk from merchants? What is in it for them?

    Second, can one really implement strong token-based authentication in a browser without using cookies? Do you have a vision of what this looks like (a secure element in the PC and fingerprint reader or camera)?

    Thanks.

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