Yet another major payments merger hit the headlines today with the third mega-merger in 2019 alone. Global Payments is acquiring Total System Services in an all stock deal valued at $21.5 billion.

Whilst the commercial rationale for this deal is no doubt underpinned by economies of scale to be extracted from the enlarged business as well as the improved end-to-end coverage in the card management and merchant acquiring space, there seems to be a more fundamental driver to the recent merger activity - which payment rails will prevail as the industry evolves.

Whilst many of the recent "innovations" in the payments space still rely on the card rails to effect the actual cash movements between payor and payee, there are increasingly other options becoming available to industry participants. The evolving regulatory and technological landscape, particularly in Europe and parts of Asia, is enabling new service providers either to offer different means of plugging directly into the banking payment systems or create entirely new rails.

This battle around the core of the payments infrastucture could give rise to some significant changes to the industry as the big Tech players flex their muscles in the coming years.