Payments veteran and The Green Sheet Advisory Board member Chester Ritchie is President of Nodus Technologies Inc., a developer of payment software that companies embed in their accounting and CRM systems to simplify the payment process. Ritchie recalls simpler days, when the industry had no fintech sector, "which is really just the bundling of all the payments technology and taking away the complexity," he said.
As Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at CAM Commerce Solutions, Ritchie created the RetailSTAR POS and XCharge payment processing software solutions, while also helping to grow the company before its sale to Global Payments. He also held executive positions at Worldpay, Zooz and TeamSoft, among others. He has found that this background helps him form strong partnerships with solutions providers that enable them to easily accept payments within their solutions.
He also helps customers obtain Level 3 pricing, something he believes many agents, ISOs and processors promise but cannot deliver. "To get that pricing, you need access to the customer's accounting data, and you need to pass invoice-level information back to the card brands," he said. "With our solutions, because we are so deeply ingrained in the accounting systems, we can provide that back out to the card brands to make sure the merchants get the discounted rate."
Ritchie likened the EMV rollout to a debacle and said, "I still walk around all the time and take pictures of all the signs merchants put on devices that don't have EMV." He also stated EMV is a necessary evil that protects acquirers, not merchants, and that it came at an inopportune time because "you never want to touch the actual plastic of the card itself; whoever touches the plastic is putting themselves in harm's way."
According to Ritchie, the way to avoid touching payment cards is to accept electronic payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay, which employ tokens, not card numbers. "You are not on the hook as a retailer at all because you have never touched cardholder data," he said.
With card-not-present transactions, merchants are increasingly wary of employees using keyboards to enter customer credit card information into gateways. "Doing that, you have just put the consumer and entire network the computer is connected to at risk for a PCI audit," he said. "If you're a fairly large company, that is hundreds of thousands of dollars."
To address this, Ritchie's company offers a solution that enables merchants to send customers a pay link via cell phone, Wi-Fi or email, and the customer enters his or her own credit card, so no one at the merchant's location touches the data. "As soon as they enter it in, the data comes into the system," he said. Merchants who cannot send a pay link use an encrypted numeric keypad to enter card numbers. The keypad is "fully encrypted, and it's point to point, so it takes your computer out of scope for PCI," he added.
Ritchie also believes that given the level of current disruption, traditional ISOs will not exist much longer. However, he is involved in industry organizations dedicated to ensuring that people can take advantage of new opportunities, and, as a daily reader of the Bible, he takes helping others to heart.
"Money is money but at some point, everybody realizes you are never going to spend all the money you have made in your lifetime," he said. "That helps ground me. I like to use experience to help others so it turns more into a driving principle than just going and making money."
Until recently, Ritchie, a Huntington Beach, Calif. native who grew up surfing, worked far from home. "I have literally been on a plane every single week for the last 10 years; there are hardships that come along with that," he said. Now he goes to the office during the week, and on weekends, he's back in the water as a PADI scuba instructor. "I love certifying people in scuba diving," he said.
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