COLORADO SPRINGS: Visa, the payments company, believes that working with startups can help solve many brand and business problems – as well as partly reducing the threat such disruptive players pose to established firms.

Shiv Singh, Visa's SVP/Global Head of Digital and Marketing Transformation, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2016 Digital & Social Media Conference.

"Without a doubt, these companies are out to get us …. We can either let them get us, or we can win at their own game," he said. (For more, including tips for marketers, read Warc's exclusive report: Visa partners with startup rivals to drive brand relevance.)

"There is something already out there that can displace you, or affect your business, over the next five years," Singh continued. "You need to use them to [help] drive your business."

Visa has turned this theory into practice through the "Everywhere Initiative", a two-year-old program where the brand partners with fledgling enterprises to fuel innovation and prepare for emerging challenges.

More specifically, startups are asked to submit potential solutions to business issues facing Visa, and in return can receive a cash infusion, alongside access to relevant technologies and expertise provided by their blue-chip partner.

"We had to open up our network – open up our brand – because to succeed in the future, we have to work [with partners on] the outside," Singh said.

In its first year, the "Everywhere Initiative" sought out assistance in engaging millennials. The program's latest iteration then aimed to encourage use of Visa's APIs, boost its digital payment tools and enhance its presence at major events.

These issues hint at what Singh described as a "tectonic" shift taking place in the payments category – a trend that is equally applicable to most other industries.

And tackling such obstacles by working with startups, he suggested, also promises to improve the position of marketers within their own organisations.

"We as marketers and communicators cannot be considered as doing just a fringe activity," said Singh. "Suddenly, we have a seat at the table."

Data sourced from Warc