A letter from MPT’s new editor: Learning how to drive again in a world that keeps changing

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It’s been said that you can’t reinvent yourself, but the changes we’ve seen in the journalism field, and the changes we’ve seen in the economy, have forced many of us to relearn quite a few things. I’ve been a working journalist for three decades covering everything from business travel to real estate and in recent years have moved into the technology space, where I’ve closely watched an industry that has seen more than its share of disruption. The opportunity to serve as the new editor of Mobile Payments Today in many ways fits right in with my experiences over the course of many years of success, disruption, relearning and reinvention.

If you follow the growth of omnichannel commerce, you realize that some of the biggest success stories came from filling the void left by an unmet need. There have always been consumers on the outside that were standing outside a virtual window with a desire to be on the inside, but for whatever reason, the dominant industries were falling a little short.

In the 1970s, while growing up in Queens, New York, supermarkets like Waldbaum’s, King Kullen and Key Food literally stood within blocks of our apartment building and department stores like Gertz, Alexander’s and Korvettes anchored the retail corridors of our community.

By the 1980s, urban department stores had shut down and relocated to suburban malls and supermarkets began to disappear from local neighborhoods, and major holiday shopping required a trek to Rego Park or midtown Manhattan, as public transit was the preferred mode travel. Car ownership was considered an added expense.

The industries that emerged out of this were beginning to find an audience because the need was great and the options were few. For anyone who lived or worked in New York, places like FreshDirect opened up lifelines for people, who needed access to healthy, high-quality, fresh meat and produce that exceeded what was available at most urban supermarkets.

What drove much of the demand for omnichannel commerce is the need to get the product and make the experience as frictionless as possible. Over the past decade, consumers found a need for a flexible working environment and direct access to credit and liquidity.

The ability to marry the computer, the tablet — and more recently — the smartphone to retailers, jobs and lenders allowed consumers to make the most informed decisions about what they buy, how they work and who has control over their money.

In many ways, this is the most exciting time in my generation because the brightest minds in the world are opening up the playbook and asking what they can bring to the table. Hopefully, they include even more new ways to shop, bank, hail a car or get enough credit to launch a business.

And, hopefully, a business can find a way to reinvent itself so that a small, dedicated team of craftsman can compete against a billion-dollar behemoth. I hope to help you, the reader, to make sense of an industry that is growing and changing faster than the speed of sound.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any story ideas or comments or questions about the industry.

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