payoffWhen in business do you sigh, breathe more easily, and say "There!" with the feeling you've arrived somewhere important? Is it when you shake hands on a new deal? See a new employee come through the doors on his or her first day? Wrap up a crucial presentation in front of your boss?

The most fundamental and visceral payoff in business is, well, the pay-off: when you've done so well for a customer that he or she passes over hard-earned dollars for what you offer. That's the base that sustains everything else.

As I observed in a recent comment, though, payment systems--the working details of how we receive individual checks, charges, and so on--are in the middle of upheaval. Even if your frontline facing customers is a hundred-year-old cash register, you're going to be affected by all the change happening now with "e-commerce", "m-commerce", currency exchanges, and more.

Weekly update

That's why is launching a new feature today: from now on, come here each Thursday to read "The Payoff". Every week, "The Payoff" will update you with news about changes in payment systems likely to affect you, your customers, and your bottom line. The point isn't to make you an expert in new technology, or to sell you anything, but simply to help keep you current on what's happening in one narrow but indispensable part of your business. Every day, your customers will pay you, and you'll pay your suppliers. Let's see what we can do to keep those encounters as safe, rewarding, and trouble-free as possible.

One of the names you're going to hear more and more is PayPal. While it began as a sometimes-flaky technology-driven gadget for Y2K-era hipsters to demonstrate they were living in the future, PayPal has matured to the point that it claims over 100 million active registered accounts and annual revenues of over $4 billion, nearly half of which is international. PayPal routinely handles payments on a daily basis for hundreds of thousands of business.

PayPal Payments

PayPal also is very deliberately leveraging its financial strength and market presence to expand its offerings. On the 4th of April, two weeks ago, the company announced PayPal Payments, a system for retailers to accept PayPal-mediated payments in person from walk-in traffic.

What's the point? Briefly, an increasing number of consumers prefer PayPal and alternative "electronic commerce" or "mobile commerce" systems to more traditional "cash, check, or charge" methods. PayPal combines for them the right mix of convenience, security, and efficiency--and it works smoothly across national borders for over two dozen currencies. How important is it for you to advertise "We accept PayPal"?

Is PayPal in your future?  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. about your experience with and interest in payment systems; we'll be back next week to discuss the topic more.

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