The U.S. Merchant Acquiring Industry in 2011:

Going Mobile

Boston, MA — Many merchant acquirers in the US have truly begun to rationalize their delivery of value-added services and innovative technology. With the rising emphasis on mobile devices across the market ecosystem, providers of merchant services have focused significant development and marketing resources on the mobile / micro-merchant space. Acquirers have also moved to bring mobile solutions to national and global retail brands, but a plethora of smaller players with agile, slickly-designed solutions are encroaching on this segment. Not only does the mobile revolution have acquirers active, but issues surrounding security, industry compliance, and regulatory impact promise to make interesting times for merchant acquirers in 2011 and beyond.

At every level of the merchant acquiring business, competition is fierce. Intelligence about what your competitors are doing is essential for success. Lack of differentiation in new products just transliterates the same issues to a new market. And not to minimize the achievements that these service providers have performed – as the effort involved in bringing magstripe reader sleds, apps, and gateway interfaces to market and modifying back office processes for everything from sales to underwriting and risk management is no small task – innovation without the stroke of genius that ensures adoption and market penetration is just as good as the next guy/s innovation.

The latest of Mercator’s annual reports on the state of the U.S. merchant acquiring market examines not only market data from the last year but also presents analysis and commentary surrounding what our analysts deem the most pressing topics, themes, and trends impacting the space. This year, the story is Mobile. While our coverage of the U.S. acquiring space obliges us to refresh our data series, the twist for this year’s report is an in-depth examination of the mobile payment acceptance phenomenon, and how acquirer business models are changing as the market prepares for more demand around mobility.

Without a plan for niche segmentation and targeted solutions, competition for the general populace of potential card acceptors via smartphone could be quite bloody indeed. Strategies for penetrating the extremely broad ‘services’ sector that may be receptive to payment solutions that utilize mobility should incorporate non-payment related functionality of mobile devices in order to tailor offerings to target segments,” David Fish, Senior Analyst at Mercator Advisory Group and author of the report comments. “The opportunities will certainly become richer with the advent of smartphones and tablets that come with NFC chips embedded by the OEM in the device.”

Highlights of this report include:

The U.S. merchant acquiring market grew in 2010 due mostly to a rebound in retail and food service sales, which were up over 6% for the year. Growth in card payments was even more robust as volume for Visa and MasterCard bankcard at the top 100 U.S. acquirers grew 8.8% and general purpose card volume grew 9.3%.

Our annual recap of the largest U.S. acquirers’ prior year market performance demonstrates the effects of market consolidation on individual companies’ market share.

Adaptation of mobile devices to accept card payments has been a bandwagon that many in the acquiring space have been quick to jump on in the past year, with no less than 63 card acceptance applications (with varying degrees of legitimacy) inhabiting the iTunes App Store at the time of this research.

Creative thinking about the mobile merchant space will necessitate acquirers’ quick development of niche specialization.

Acquirers who are strategizing or implementing mobile payment acceptance solutions will need to consider emerging payment instrument form factors as the global payments industry moves ever-quickly into NFC contactless payments and as the U.S. continues to mull over EMV smart card adoption.

One of 15 exhibits in this report:



This report is 24 pages long and has 15 exhibits.

Companies mentioned in this report include: Advent International, AisleBuyer, American Express, Banc of America Merchant Services, Chase Paymentech Solutions, Citi Merchant Services, Discover, Elavon, Electronic Transactions Association, Fifth Third Processing Solutions / Vantiv, First Data, First National Merchant Solutions, Global Payments Inc., Heartland Payment Systems, Home Depot, Ingenico, Intuit Payment Solutions, Key Merchant Services, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, MasterCard, Mercury Payments, Moneris, National Processing Company, PNC Merchant Services, Red Laser, RoamPay, Royal Bank of Scotland, Sage Payment Solutions, Sovereign Bank, Square, SunTrust Merchant Services, TransFirst, TSYS Merchant Solutions, Twitter, US Bancorp, VeriFone, Visa, Wells Fargo Merchant Services, WorldPay.

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About Mercator Advisory Group
Mercator Advisory Group is the leading, independent research and advisory services firm exclusively focused on the payments and banking industries. We deliver pragmatic and timely research and advice designed to help our clients uncover the most lucrative opportunities to maximize revenue growth and contain costs. Our clients range from the world’s largest payment issuers, acquirers, processors, merchants and associations to leading technology providers and investors. Mercator Advisory Group is also the publisher of the online payments and banking news and information portal