The Elephant in the Payments Room

Why a fundamental tension must be solved for true disruption in payments

Sara Hightower, CMO, Payrix


I spent the better part of the past decade in the fast-paced grind of agency life - with over 100 paying clients on the roster at any given time I’d move between industries and audience segments digging for insights, developing breakthrough strategies and building marketing plans all the while seeking to deduce the common threads that drive purchase behavior no matter what or to whom you’re selling. 


And so it struck me, earlier this year when I embarked on my new journey at Payrix, that the category brimming with potential hadn’t quite cracked an age-old tension. You see, the industry had solved simple with the help of Square and Stripe and was starting to see the revenue promiseland of payment facilitation. But that promise came at a cost - literal upfront and ongoing costs - and it was being sold to many companies who admittedly knew very little about the perpetually complex payments landscape. 


It took me back to a truth that was clear in my observations across industries but certainly not new for me to articulate: every decision is made at the sweet spot between motivation, and the cost perceived in making it. Does it feel hard? Risky? Complicated? Then you’ve gotta be crazy motivated and convinced it’s the right thing.


So how exactly do you sell a complicated solution to a problem someone doesn’t know they have? Short answer? You don’t. 


Sure, you can take on the arduous task of “trust me you need this, and I’m the right (wo)man for the job” but that’s a heavy lift. And perusing the category-breakers of the past decade will tell you that the recipe is NOT: I found a problem you didn’t know you had and surprise! I’ve got the right solution for you. Rather, they looked at the way a target audience’s problems had been addressed historically, interrogated what might be unsolved, and built a better solution to address it. 


In the space since their inception and this publication, some have stumbled, some have drawn scrutiny, and some have continued to succeed; but what they’ve got in common is being synonymous with disruption. When Amazon took the risk of being a loss-leader to blow up publishing and later change the nature of what we deem convenient. When Classpass got in on the joke of the unused gym membership and imagined a better way to stay fit. When emerging DTC hotshots like Casper understood that a new generation of consumers wasn’t going to any of the Mattress Firms located on every corner and got straight to the point. When pioneers like Blake Mycoskie at TOM’s realized that building a brand for social do-gooders wasn’t about pandering but instead built the model for scalable charitable business. Or of course when Uber and Lyft cracked the sharing economy and gig economy wide open by finding a better way for “carpooling” and getting from point A to point B. For payments, its what Square transformed for small and micro-merchants, creating an opportunity for them to do business and even thrive unlike they’d ever been able to before. 


Different categories, different audiences, same recipe. They challenged convention and bucked the power players. Instead they dug in on their audience’s motivations and the cost associated with the purchase decision, each time emerging with a new solution that changed how our collective corporate ecosystem and culture at large viewed the category. 


It’s why I am so proud of what we are doing at Payrix. Recognizing the glacial pace of change that’s happened in our industry at the detriment of fast-growing, high-potential businesses. Determining that a one-size-fits-all solution, or a choice between convenience and maximum revenue doesn’t have to be the reality. Our mission is to grow our clients’ business. To unlock a new stream of revenue for them that affords growth, and resources, and total enterprise value. And to do so with whatever level of investment or cost feels comfortable and right to them. Our next generation of innovators and disruptors and tech unicorns deserve another source of fuel to their success. And they deserve to be in control of the solution and have it be as dynamic as their business.



To learn more about Payrix Payments Technology and how it can work for you visit or contact to schedule a demo.


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