This year, we evaluated 13 of the most significant merchant payment providers (MPPs) — also called payment service providers, or PSPs — and not one qualified as a Forrester Wave™ Leader. You might ask, “How is that possible?” After all, payments processing and management is a mature and dynamic market, and the solutions are key to, well, you making money as a business.

It turns out that a Wave Leader position, or “best fit” partner, has never been more dependent on YOU and YOUR BUSINESS. You may face significant trade-offs with whichever MPP vendor you choose. So here are the questions you must ask yourself when selecting a payments partner:

  • How quickly does my business move — or want to move? MPP vendors’ pace of development varies dramatically in their adoption of, or adaptation to, ongoing industry innovation and regulatory changes or mandates. Merchants should either culture-match or plan on working within their MPP’s value set. For example, some vendors operate in a “fail fast” model, while others are more likely to “measure twice, cut once.”
  • Which partner has and handles payments data in a way that I need? Some MPPs have more data, some have unique data, and some are better at making data accessible and actionable. Carefully assess the vendor’s approach to data management, enrichment, and presentation to determine which will best bridge the gap between data and insights for your business.
  • How does the potential MPP partner enable my business growth plans and approach to differentiation? Are you looking to centralize on one vendor for more effective omnichannel offerings? Or would a champion/challenger model better suit your approach to get better performance out of your partners? Do you need the simplicity of a single API for varied payments functions? Or do you need vast configuration values to create a tailored offering?

To dive into more of our analysis and see the details, see our latest evaluation, The Forrester Wave™: Merchant Payment Providers, Q1 2024. Forrester clients can also connect with me via inquiry or guidance sessions. I’d love to hear from you!