The Executive Interview Series provides readers with exclusive insights from movers and shakers in the payments industry. The Payments Industry is under continuous transformation, as such this series provides diverse perspectives on everything from strategy to payments technology and to the future of the industry.

In this interview, TSG’s Market Intelligence team-members Jared Drieling and Alex Ferguson sat down with TSG’s Senior Associate John Kirkpatrick (JK) to learn more about him and his thoughts around recent changes and trends in the payments landscape as well as what the future may bring.

BACKGROUND: JK brings more than 29 years of leadership experience developing and implementing complex global business strategies for companies of all sizes using his extensive knowledge of technology valuations, gateways, and back-ends. Before joining TSG, JK was the Chief Information officer for six years at TransFirst where he oversaw the company’s information and technology, including payment gateways and all aspects of transaction processing such as security, financials, data center operations, software engineering, quality assurance and complex data analytics. John Kirkpatrick’s vital experience as a payments executive proves crucial in enhancing TSG’s institutional knowledge and the success of TSG’s GEM (Gateway Enterprise Metrics) platform.

Q: TSG’s Alex FergusonHow did you get into payments?

A: John KirkpatrickI started by launching very large eCommerce systems and integrating into payment systems, from there I started building the payment side of the platforms.

Q: TSG’s Alex FergusonWhat do you think has been your biggest personal contribution to the payments industry?

A: John KirkpatrickI am very proud of the work I have done to help secure the payments infrastructure, when I started in payments there was minimal security, limited knowledge, and almost no recognition of the risks payment providers faced – that has all changed with some extremely painful lessons in our industry. The great news is new platforms today start with the perspective that it must be safe from the start instead of trying to patch it after it has been released.

Q: TSG’s Jared DrielingThere were a lot of large mergers and acquisitions in the payments industry in 2019. Do you think this flurry of investment activity will continue into the near future?

A: John KirkpatrickEvery time it feels like payments M&A will slow down and catch up, it seems to pick back up again. For 2020, unless there is a major change in the economy, I do not think there will be any change in the volume of M&A activity in the payments space, but I do anticipate a move to more specialized targets and markets.

Q: TSG’s Jared DrielingWhat do you think the payments technology and the industry will look like a decade from now?

A: John KirkpatrickHistorically, consumer resistance has limited payments expansion and until recently payments followed the same process we had in the 60’s, but was just faster – that is finally changing today. In payments, new technology and product changes are moving at a faster pace than ever before in our history. This rapid change has left many legacy platforms that cannot keep up with the current market demand and expectations. In addition to global payment growth in all parts of the world, I anticipate faster settlement, expanded tender types and consumer acceptance of mobile payments to accelerate and expand in consumer-friendly devices that will be virtually transparent to the user.

Q: TSG’s Jared DrielingWhat are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen payments companies make internally regarding their technology and strategy?

A: John KirkpatrickMaking an assumption that what you have is better designed and architected than what the competition has, but before you realize it, the industry has passed you by.

Q: TSG’s Alex FergusonWhat you think is the most misunderstood aspect of the payments industry from an investor or non-payments company’s perspective?

A: John KirkpatrickMost new participants in the payments space get cold feet when first exposed to the multiples in our market, but it is critical to look at the historical returns in the space before the multiples dissuade you from the boundless opportunities.

Q: TSG’s Alex FergusonWhat do you think is the biggest opportunity in the payments industry in the coming years?

A: John KirkpatrickFor the individuals and companies that have the vision to build a better mouse trap, there will be more opportunity to expand and grow. Opportunity comes to the players that create new markets, customers, and products.

Q: TSG’s Alex FergusonWhat is the most surprising thing you’ve learned working with the GEM platform that couldn’t have been shown without it?

A: John KirkpatrickI wish I had access to GEM when I was running large payment platforms. GEM has the unique ability to show you what consumers and merchants are experiencing compared to your competitors. All platforms track what happens inside their walls, but GEM allows for a real apples-to-apples comparison of how competitive you are and where you need improvement. Before GEM it was just intuition, general merchant complaints and a gut feeling of how a platform was performing. With GEM you can truly know where your limited investments will have the most benefit and it has the upside to alert you to issues that internal monitoring can’t track or identify.

Q: TSG’s Jared DrielingPayments and software are merging together at an increased frequency in recent years. Where do you see the development of this trend in the next 5-10 years? Will software and integrated payments functionality reach a point where the feature is expected in all business management software? Or will it still largely remain vertical specific?

A: John KirkpatrickSome significant growth of new payment volume has come from merged businesses, areas the payment industry did not even know existed 10 years ago. Consumers will demand simple, secure and fast payments or they will take their business to the product that meets their needs.

Q: TSG’s Alex Ferguson As our final question, payments and work aside, what do you enjoy doing?

A: John KirkpatrickI am a dog handler with a Colorado Search and Rescue team for the last 14 years, that keeps me busy all hours of the day and night!

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