Long-term success frequently results from businesses being agile, and prepared, in the short-term.

That’s why it is so heartening, Shaunt Sarkissian, founder and CEO of AI-ID, told PYMNTS for “What’s Next in Payments Series: Quarterly Scorecard,” that “the first quarter of 2024 is so far going according to plan.”

The end of last year brought forth several macroeconomic uncertainties, from geopolitical risks to potential economic softening. But these anticipated challenges, and companies’ responses to them, have largely unfolded as expected.

“Many of the macroeconomic risks coming out of Q4 had us questioning what 2024 would look like,” Sarkissian said, but despite turbulence in the geopolitical arena, businesses have shown resilience, with many maintaining healthy balance sheets and revenue streams.

This resilience has been particularly evident in sectors focused on deep innovations and technologies.

“We’ve seen a bifurcation between business customers versus end-consumers,” Sarkissian said.

He emphasized that business customers are showing resilience thanks to continued investments in innovation, particularly in artificial intelligence (AI) and security. On the other hand, consumer-facing businesses are facing challenges such as margin compression and increased costs, leading to more cautious spending.

“The closer your business is to the consumer, the more it could be under pressure. It is a tale of two customers,” Sarkissian said.

This dichotomy underscores the importance for businesses to understand the nuanced needs and behaviors of both business-to-business (B2B) and consumer segments to tailor their strategies effectively.

What’s Next in the Business Environment

In today’s ever-evolving business environment, staying ahead of the curve is paramount for success — and so is just the act of identifying the curve.

In an environment marked by uncertainty, fostering customer loyalty and trust is increasingly critical to both growth and differentiation.

“You’re seeing a lot of this flight to quality play out, where in the banking and payments side, the banking-as-a-service (BaaS) side, people want you as a business to be as safe and sound as possible,” Sarkissian said. “A lot of peripheral businesses, the further away you get from the nexus of regulatory soundness and having a 250-year history, that’s where customers are starting to question whether they should go back to a more legacy relationship.”

For businesses across the landscape, this means strengthening relationships and ensuring that their company is seen and regarded as a reliable partner is critical.

As Sarkissian explained, the return of a flight to quality also underscores the need for companies to prioritize customer authentication methods and know-your-customer (KYC) processes, leveraging technology to enhance fraud prevention and risk management strategies.

“It is also going to force the regulatory apparatus to move faster, too,” he added.

Agility, Innovation and AI Will Define Future Landscape

With a mix of challenges and opportunities on the horizon, businesses and their decision makers are increasingly tasked with navigating a complex landscape, and must make strategic decisions to foster growth, innovation and customer loyalty.

Despite economic headwinds, Sarkissian urged finance leaders to embrace innovation amid uncertainty. Resisting the temptation to pull back during challenging times, he said, can allow firms to seize opportunities for growth and efficiency they may have missed out on otherwise.

Down the line, embracing advancements in AI and technology today — particularly in areas such as faster authentication and fraud detection — can position businesses for long-term success.

“Identity is the new currency,” Sarkissian said. “It may not be new news, but it is becoming very critical — and companies need to get very aggressive and reinvest in their customer authentication methods and KYC programs.”

“The first thing is work with partners and vendors that are really leading that side of the house,” he said.

Looking ahead, Sarkissian emphasized the need for businesses to not only leverage AI but also prioritize quality and real-world impact over novelty.

As AI becomes increasingly integrated into various facets of business, from customer service to data management, investing strategically in AI capabilities will be imperative for maintaining competitiveness and relevance in the market.



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