What if you don’t have to choose?

The old saying goes something like, “fast, cheap, and good. pick two “. There are even lovely Venn diagrams all over. Like this one 🙂

This idea tends to fall into conventional wisdom and applies very well to most things. It has often come up in the context of Transfer Types and various payment providers. It is too convenient to fall back on, but we all do it.

In the context of traditional payment systems, it is common to get close to all 3, though not entirely there. Fast comparisons are usually days to seconds, and the cost comparison is typically a % rate to a low fixed cost. In that context, it still makes sense. Even good could be thought of as user experience or security, all of which do vary between providers. In payments, it ends up looking like this quite frequently because bad user interfaces are just known to lose:

Good, fast, and cheap almost feel like table stakes when looking at payments driven in a chain context. In the context of a chain when thinking about payments, safe is required when it comes to key management, everything is fixed cost ranging from dollars to less than a penny, and transactions are completed within minutes or seconds. 

There are no days considerations here, so the delta in speed is significant. It starts to look more like this when you compare the traditional systems to the new chain-based systems if implemented correctly:

How security is applied, how fees scale, and how speed creates new risks warrants consideration in these new payment ecosystems, but these are technically manageable problems.

In the old systems, we deal with unencrypted batch files as the starting point. In the new systems, we are dealing with reasonably complex key management out of the box. There are still security concerns to deal with either way, but the ownness is on the providers in either scenario, and they are technically solvable problems.

In the old systems, we’re splitting hairs over days vs. hours vs. minutes in terms of speed, and sometimes, we spend years building things to get to seconds. In the new systems, it is all seconds. The worst case, it is minutes.

In the old systems, we are negotiating pricing deals (as an old friend calls it) in an effort to squeeze blood out of a rock to get more of the % back, and in the new systems, everything is dollars to cents on top of instant and secure if implemented correctly.

It looks like things are getting better after all.