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First Data, Flywire Partner To Transform X-Border Business Payments

PYMNTS

Conventional wisdom may be conventional, but it is not always prescient. In fact, the most widely held beliefs are often the ones that miss the mark, or are too early.

Take the payments industry. In an interview with PYMNTS, conducted in March at Innovation Project 2017, Flywire CEO Mike Massaro reflected on what did not happen in the previous year that might have, or had expected en masse by industry observers.

He and others expected more advancement around bitcoin and blockchain technology, for one thing, buoyed by headlines and partnerships between banks and FinTech upstarts. “We continue to not see a major innovation yet,” he told PYMNTS.

“There is great technology, there are great ideas around the space, but there has never been a breakthrough moment and I think a lot of people thought that would have happened by now.”

And even as the world and payments become globalized, crossing borders and a 24/7/ 365 landscape, remittances have room for improvement. One feature ripe for attention: There may be too many touch points along the payments continuum. “I think one of the sectors that needs innovation is business payments,” Massaro said.

“To run a business, you still need too many different relationships with banks…different procedures to send money abroad, and receive money…there are near term challenges surrounding remittances, cross-border.” And with so many cooks in the kitchen, said the executive, “payers in the field are racing to the bottom for costs…They do not add a lot of tangible value over traditional movement of money.

Traditional players competing on price alone,” he said, “are going to have a lot of challenges over the coming year.” Geographically speaking, said Massaro, there are encouraging signs as payments and cross-border functionality improve and take shape in emerging markets such as Africa and Central America, among other areas, he said.

To that end, Massaro’s March comments, on a large scale, seem to be encapsulated in an announcement fresh off the presses: On Tuesday (May 2), Flywire said it was partnering with First Data in a deal “aimed at streamlining cross-border transactions for their respective client bases,” the companies said jointly in a release.

The partnership will hinge on a reciprocal relationship focused on referrals for users of Flywire’s international payments and receivables platform and First Data’s client network and technology offerings. For Flywire, the ability is there for expanded card payment options; for First Data, the benefit is to leverage Flywire to accept large-scale international payments, with greater presence in healthcare, education and B2B verticals.

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