Horizontal vs Vertical Payments

Horizontal = industry agnostic

  • broad service covering a wide breadth of industries

  • usually more mature solutions

  • examples: Square, Worldpay, Quickbooks, FIS


  • need to own the entire stack and have an incredibly powerful value proposition or else you will lose to incumbents

Vertical = industry specific

  • full featured solutions for industry niches addressing specific pain points

  • functional specificity narrows their target market but creates high stickiness and higher ARPU if they can serve their market well

  • examples: Lightspeed for restaurants, Mindbody for salons/fitness


  • need to REALLY UNDERSTAND industry pain points and be able to solve for them


  • merchant services and card acceptance are table stakes

  • payments should be part of a bigger software solution

  • horizontal or vertical, they are a one to many opportunity for acquirers

  • consider operational costs and acquisition costs no matter what path you choose