In our May 12 issue, we published "Voices of Transact 14," which contained a portion of interviews done by The Green Sheet at the Electronic Transactions Association's annual meeting. The event was revamped this year and renamed Transact 14: Powered by ETA.
This article contains the second, and final, segment of those interviews. Thanks to all the busy executives who shared their goals for their companies, insights into new products and opportunities, thoughts on how we can do a better job of securing the payments ecosystem, as well as on how to navigate the historic changes taking place in the industry.
Mitch Cobrin, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AnywhereCommerce, had much to be pleased about at Transact 14. In particular, the company was previewing its mSuite mobile commerce ecosystem, and it released its AC CorePay Opened SDK development interface, which Cobrin said is a secure, reliable tool for developers and independent software vendors. Additionally, Cobrin was working closely at the AnywhereCommerce booth with payment veteran Debra McAteer, who recently joined the company as Vice President of Sales for U.S. Resellers and ISOs.
"The mSuite is essentially a three-pronged solution: gateway, software and hardware," Cobrin said. "It isn't about hardware; it's a provisioning suite that is processor and acquirer agnostic. The gateway also has a back-end merchant portal that can do bulk uploads of merchant accounts. It has a host of features that are less typical of gateway infrastructures, and our portal offers every tier of administration; people with different credentials can see different things, depending on how the credentials are set up."
Cobrin said AnywhereCommerce has a strong relationship with Microsoft Corp. and supports Windows 8 across devices, including smartphones using Windows 8. And the company's hardware accepts mag stripe, Europay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV) chip and signature, and EMV chip and PIN payments. He noted, "We're ready for when EMV chip proliferates in the U.S.; we're already on our second generation of product and have great experience on the product from doing business in other parts of the world, including Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region."
Cobrin said the mSuite is a turnkey product for ISOs. "They don't have to deal with three different service providers – hardware, software, gateway – it's full service. ... All they have to do is bring marketing expertise and customers, and we'll take care of the technology behind it and the transparent data accessibility."
As for McAteer, Cobrin referred to her as a payments sales guru. "She's an industry veteran, and by the look of things, she's got movie star qualities by her presence in the industry," he said. "She's going to be leading the charge for us in the ISO community. We're thrilled. She's only been with us about a week, and she's already dazzled us."
Over breakfast at THE cafe at Mandalay Bay (seasonal fruit, berries and lusciously thick whipped cream, and good old-fashioned bacon and eggs), TSYS executives Susan M. Sheen and Lisa Ludolph shared their excitement about TSYS' decision to try something different this year at Transact 14. Instead of manning a booth, TSYS execs were on hand in a meeting room they'd rented in the exhibit hall for the duration of the show.
Sheen, TSYS Acquiring Solutions Group Executive, Marketing, Communications and Business Support, said, "We took one of the meeting spaces and turned it into a product lounge where we are essentially showing what I call our very flashy products: our mobile tablet solutions, and even our back-end solutions, our analytics-type products, and essentially showing how clients can use all the data they can collect, share that with their merchants and build their portfolios with these tools. We have really expanded our back-end solutions."
Sheen added that the meeting room has been very effective as a way to maximize business opportunities. "Anybody who is coming to us now wants to do business with us, both prospects and existing clients who want to expand the relationship," she said. "We're still very active in ETA. We sponsored the mini programs for this show and will continue to be a sponsor. We just wanted to make the most effective use of our time and sales resources and not just have a booth because it's what we've done in the past."
At the show, TSYS was also demonstrating TSYS Merchant Insights, a value-added service ISOs can offer to their merchant customers.
"It's a free social media-based tool that essentially takes care of that, so merchants can run their business and not worry about Yelp scores and other social media feedback," said Ludolph, Associate Director, Sales & Marketing at TSYS. "It aggregates the data and feeds it into one dashboard merchants log into and see how they're comparing to their competitors, and if they're getting negative feedback, it presents all the tools to make it easy for them to respond immediately and take action."
Sheen said TSYS partners with Womply to provide the social media tool, and when TSYS first offered it to 10,000 merchants, every one of them claimed the dashboard. "That's when we made the decision to offer it more broadly and to keep enhancing it and adding to it," she said. Other features enable merchants to reach out to customers with loyalty programs, special discounts and other targeted offers.
Paul Rasori, Executive Vice President, Product & Marketing for Powa Technologies, was a man on fire (in a good way) at Transact 14. "The response that we've gotten this week is beyond our expectations," he said while demonstrating the PowaPOS offerings at the company's booth. "I've had lots of people come here and say, 'I was told I had to look at this product.' ... I've been in this industry a long time and haven't seen excitement like this in – forever."
So what was all the buzz about? A set of integrated products Rasori called "future perfect." These include PowaPOS and PowaPOS software development kit, PowaWEB and PowaTAG.
"The consumer download app is called PowaTAG," Rasori said. "It asks several questions, such as name, address and credit card info, and stores that on your behalf in a cloud-based wallet. We work with merchants to put PowaTAGs on merchandise and advertising, and we already have 30 brands signed up for it." PowaTAGs can be in the form of quick response codes consumers scan or screen icons consumers touch to make purchases, as well as audio recordings that contain a purchasing function.
PowaWEB is a software-as-a-service, cloud-based solution for e-commerce that PowaPOS believes is ideal for brands looking to extend their presence globally while working the local, domain, currency and language.
PowaPOS is a hardware and software platform designed to customize the payment experience at the physical POS and on the move. "This show is all about PowaPOS, the third leg of this everywhere commerce ability," Rasori said. "A trend in retail is the move toward smartphone- and tablet-based systems. ... Many POS configurations are all separate pieces with separate power connectors and pieces, separate PIN pad devices, and they're expensive, unreliable and look terrible. We've created an all-in-one solution with all pieces in one small footprint, using a single power cable."
Included in the compact, swivel device are a universal tablet POS, payment terminal that includes EMV acceptance capability, two-dimensional QR and bar code scanner, thermal printer and cash drawer. In addition, Rasori noted that the PowaPIN device, which is smaller than the palm of a typical woman's hand, supports all verification methods, including chip and PIN, chip and sign, swipe and PIN, and swipe and sign. "And it's all PCI compliant," he said.
Payment security and compliance solution provider ControlScan has historically researched acquirers' PCI practices, as well as merchants' views on security and compliance.
"Now we're looking at new avenues," Stacey Holleran, the company's Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, told The Green Sheet at Transact 14. "We surveyed small merchants to find out what they're thinking about Windows XP, whether they were aware Microsoft was going to end support for XP ... if they knew they were running XP or had no clue what they were running ... to find out where they were at, so we could meet them with educational content and help acquirers with educational content as well."
ControlScan found that 93 to 94 percent of merchants surveyed knew XP support was going to expire, but less than half said they were concerned about the security ramifications. Herbig added that the company is focusing on shorter studies "so we can push out information and education quickly to merchants and their service providers to better service them."
For example, ControlScan's mobile study was in its second year last year and was very well received, according to Herbig. "We're going to recalibrate with that study and home in on specific segments of mobile payments to figure out how small merchants are dealing with mobile," she said. "We've seen a significant increase year over year of merchants adopting tablet and smartphone devices to accept payments, so we want to delve into that."
At the show, ControlScan was also touting two recent partnerships. Just days before Transact 14 began, the company heralded its new partnership with Plano, Texas-based iScan Online to address security issues that arise due to consumer-grade mobile-device use in small to midsize business environments. Via this new relationship, ControlScan created ProTect Mobile, a tool for securing Apple iOS and Google Android mobile devices.
ProTect Mobile is a mobile scanning solution acquirers can make available to merchants so they can scan mobile devices being used in their operations; it provides the ability to detect vulnerabilities and protects cardholder data; it looks for information on the device that should not be stored and alerts merchants to the presence of that data, Herbig said.
Per the second partnership, announced during the show, ControlScan is now working with Israel-based EverCompliant, which provides merchant security risk and compliance management solutions. The aim of this partnership is to provide acquirers leading-edge brand protection monitorin
Thursday afternoon, the show was winding down, but VeriFone's booth was still busy, and Shan Ethridge, the company's Vice President & General Manager NAFG, was still affably energetic as he sat down with The Green Sheet to discuss some of VeriFone's recent developments.
"This is one of the most interesting times in this industry," Ethridge said. "We're seeing so many changes, especially with technology, so that merchants are going to have more access to data that will help them learn more about their customers. VeriFone wants to be an enabler in offering technology and solutions that help merchants grow their business through understanding consumer behavior."
Ethridge noted that VeriFone offers a range of solutions that help meet those objectives. "We have everything from cloud-based solutions to new and improved hardware that is going to be critical to helping merchants really understand how they can expand their offerings. ... We can't be all things to all people. We can't do it alone, so it's important to work with the right partners to make sure we're offering a soup-to-nuts solution to the market."
A primary objective for VeriFone at the show was to let the industry know that VeriFone is not just a terminal manufacturer. "We want to develop partnerships in the industry that allow us to be a critical component in commerce enablement," Ethridge said. "It's not just about the card swipe; it's about the experience, and it's about the data."
Ethridge added that the show was a positive experience for VeriFone. "We've received very good feedback," he said. "Our CEO, Paul Galant, was in attendance and was part of the keynote on Wednesday, and he's very pleased with the response he's received personally with a number of partners that he's met."
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