Retail may be among the main attractions of payments players, with the most obvious lures including speed of transactions and the myriad of ways in which consumers can interact at the point of purchase, online or in-store.
But the transition is not an easy one for companies navigating the vagaries of having legacy systems in place — often with the pain points in place that keep consumers frustrated at the very last second of purchase — and which may keep sales from ever being tallied in the “sold” column.
To that end, many companies are in the midst of transferring to the digital age, with backend infrastructure in need of an overhaul – and it can be a process that might need an outside solutions provider.
In an interview with MPD CEO Karen Webster, Opus Consulting Chief Executive Officer Anand Ramakrishnan said that the key to platform transformation is to “change the underlying infrastructure for payments,” in an effort that spans the technology and the processing that sit in the background of the actual transactions themselves.
Ramakrishnan said that within the last 10 years there have been “significant changes” in the way payments are conducted, and that consumers have come to expect certain attributes in their own interactions with digital transactions – namely, real time, or near real-time completion, across several channels. Against that backdrop, said the executive, firms such as Opus Consulting find a real need for enterprises – and especially retailers – to “build [technology] around their legacy platforms to be more modern.”
And, in retail, he added, the old days of operating with one platform in place to satisfy transactions are no longer in place. One key area that is ripe for streamlining, he said, comes as retail POS acts as just “one small slice” of what a retailer must grapple with as a means for payments, and the overall experience for the end user is not optimal, especially as “devices are not integrated … there are lots of independent terminals” and points of friction for transactions.
One salve to that friction comes as cloud-based infrastructure, said Ramakrishnan, allows disparate devices to talk to each other. As part of the company’s services, Opus offers both digital and analytics services to firms looking to not just streamline payments infrastructure, but find growth through digital transactions and mining insights provided through data.
For now, said Ramakrishnan, retailers are working through the “pain points … of painful regulation,” with PCI compliance and also the ongoing transition to EMV, which at least for the United States has been mapped out by other countries globally as they have transitioned beyond chip and PIN to real-time payments conduits. But in the U.S., said the executive, many firms are looking at EMV as “an expense line and not as an investment line,” and the process itself of waiting for an EMV transaction can be a sticking point for the consumer, in an age where “everyone wants instant gratification.” But, with evidence from abroad, such as in the U.K., with faster payments initiatives in place, the eventual benefit is seen across the payments landscape through better liquidity and cash management.