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In a word: 50 payments execs sum up 2021

Dec 30, 2021 | By PYMNTS.com

If 2020 was a year of breakdowns, then 2021 is a year of breakthroughs. Digital is coming to every vertical and every company, bringing not just change, but in a word, transformation.

As Q4 2021 began, digital transformation was already impacting everything we do in the hybrid digital-physical world that was hammered out this year for a 2022 debut, altering how we eat, travel, play, work, receive healthcare, and crucially, how we pay for it all. PYMNTS asked some of the smartest people in payments to sum up the year and collected them in an eBook.

Some of the changes we’ve undergone are obvious, like the drop in branch banking. Other changes are more nuanced, such as shifts in credit as traditional cards and buy now, pay later (BNPL) divvy up the market based on consumer needs and preferences.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies are entering the frame as a set of necessary and valuable corporate
initiatives. The consumerization of B2B payments is bringing new levels of ease and accuracy to back-office operations.

Telehealth is proving the rare and genuine game changer as a massive and legacy healthcare system digitally reconstitutes.

Accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) automation are improving accounting in ways treasurers only dreamed of a few short years ago. Loyalty is attaining new levels of engagement, strengthening consumer affinity and increasing order sizes, powered by apps and QR codes that have subtly become common. Advances in digital identity, including biometrics and rich datasets, are putting cybercriminals on the defensive, as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning make these solutions smarter.

Cryptocurrencies are shaking off their exotic reputation as proponents look for new ways to incorporate crypto into the financial system even as regulators and some executives question its nature as a speculative investment or spendable asset.

Together with crypto conversations are ambitious blockchain plans, all of which sound almost dated the deeper we delve into the coming metaverse and its experiential commerce.

Perhaps the biggest developments are around what we call the Connected Economy — the vast collection of interoperable ecosystems in every vertical industry — but interrelated due to the way payments are relevant and crucial for each.

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