Providers of transaction banking services may be consolidating and increasingly investing in their product lines, but neither trend has reversed the downward trajectory that the pricing of these banking services has followed for the past several years. Buyers were quick to seize upon improvements in the costs of processing from new technologies and have pressured providers to match one another.

But will buyers' demands result in what is best for them? In recent years, the fixation seems to have been on costs alone, regarding as less important the qualitative distinctions among providers. Motivated by market share pressures, providers too often accede to, and even actively promote, unit pricing that is not indicative of the complete end-to-end delivery cost–pricing that can best be described as irrational.

These pricing practices are simply not sustainable and corporate customers that base their business and strategies on them may expose themselves to a variety of expensive consequences. The risk of not evaluating pro-viders in the context of emerging requirements exposes buyers of payment services to redundant channels, low straight-through processing performance, payment delays, compliance issues, trapped liquidity, complex reconciliation and longer-than-necessary problem resolution.

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