Consultants like to speak of “purchasing journeys” in which settling the bill is only the final step. Other waystations include advertising, internet search, participation in loyalty schemes and so on. Innovators, the thinking goes, could afford to undercut market prices for payments in anticipation of greater rewards at some other stage in the journey. “I could see Google running the payments business,” says Lee Kyriacou of Novantas, a consultancy. “Advertising could pay for the whole network.
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