ACH has for a long time been a critical part of the payments ecosystem. But according to Chris McNulty, Group Executive, TSYS Merchant Solutions, it’s been predominantly popular in non-physical environments. Now, merchants in the non-traditional B2B retail space are those who are most interested in enabling these types of transactions, he says. In a recent interview with MPD CEO Karen Webster, McNulty talks about how TSYS and cloud-based technology provider linked2pay are making ACH enablement more possible and streamlined for these merchants – and how Apple Pay’s “form factor” will make ACH and other non-traditional payment types far more prevalent in the future.
KW: We’re here to talk about the TSYS agreement that you just inked with an interesting cloud-based technology player linked2pay. Their claim to fame is that they bring together credit cards and ACH into one solution. First of all, why linked2pay, and second, why do you think ACH is an important part of the mix in innovation and payments?
CM: ACH has always been a critical part of the payments ecosystem. At TSYS, our goal is to provide solutions to our merchants that help them to facilitate payments in a way that makes the most sense for their business and their customers. So, by leveraging technologies like linked2pay, we can bring together ACH and credit card transactions on one platform. That makes it easier for merchants to provide payment options to their end customer. We’ve all seen ACH predominantly more in non-face-to-face environments – but be it in B2B or B2C, this solution will help expand the channels of ACH acceptance over time. The ease of use for the merchant, large or small, is a key part of this option. Linked2pay as a partner has proven their ability to make getting started as easy as possible for merchants.
And of course, as you know, linked2pay was a gold medalist for the best innovation via ACH at PYMNTS’ 2014 Innovation Project.
KW: Yes, of course. So is ACH something that you’ve been getting a lot of requests from merchants to be able to enable?
CM: I think that depends on who the merchant is. ACH, for those who are aware of the type of transaction, is something we’re getting more and more questions about – and those are still coming from the non-traditional retail space. It’s more the B2B environments, or areas where there are membership or subscription services. Clearly, those are the merchants that are most interested.
KW: Let’s shift the dialogue to the merchant retail environment and talk about Apple Pay, which has taken the retail commerce environment by storm. We know that today, Apple Pay does not enable ACH. Do you think Apple Pay is helping or hurting the interest on the part of merchants to have ACH as part of that portfolio?
CM: We’ve been active supporters of Apple’s efforts and we’re having conversations every day with our merchants and technology partners about how to implement Apple Pay into their environments. I think Apple Pay shows that merchants and consumers are always looking for ways to make their lives easier and more secure. Certainly, the security piece is part of every merchant-customer interaction about Apple Pay. As we talked about, historically, ACH has been a payment vehicle in environments where the payer has an established, trusted relationship with the payee. In those traditional environments, ACH is pretty normal and Apple Pay doesn’t necessarily fit into that.
But I think the form factor of Apple Pay, as consumer adoption becomes greater and as the security part of it helps to fuel that adoption, will spark the enablement of the option to put payment types like ACH in there. Today, as you said, you can’t link the Apple Pay solution directly to your checking account. But I think that’s something the form factor will enable non-traditional payment types in the future to do within the traditional retail space. It will make it more prevalent.
KW: That’s a good point. Merchants may find this desirable for many reasons but consumers may find it more desirable if they’re convinced that the ACH alternative in a secure environment like Apple Pay protects and preserves their checking account credentials.
So when you describe this new capability that linked2pay brings your merchants, you use the term “omni-payment.” What do you mean by that?
CM: Most people, when they think of a traditional retail environment, think about omnichannel capabilities. But the focus here is really outside of traditional environments where omnipayments are available. I define omnipayments as the ability for merchants to accept payments in a variety of ways under one merchant account. Today, many merchants want to accept payments ubiquitously in multiple ways, leveraging tools whether they be tablets, mobile phones, online forms or PCs in addition to more traditional, in-store options. Linked2pay provides great options for a wide range of merchants – whether they want an email invoice, to accept payment on their website or a mobile device, linked2pay is a convenient platform for merchants to facilitate payments seamlessly across a multitude of environments. It brings all of the merchants’ payment details together under one consolidated reporting display. Really, all of that is an effort to make merchants’ lives easier and more effective.
KW: Is it unusual for it to be that consolidated?
CM: Yes, I think in many merchant environments they have different providers for different solutions. Therefore, the reporting is not tied back together under one account or merchant platform. Integrations are different depending on who’s using which type of solution, so it brings all of that together under one platform.
KW: So what would merchants have to do to take advantage of what this capability enables them to do?
CM: That’s really the great part. It’s a very simple setup, so if a merchant wants to deploy linked2pay, they can reach out to us at TSYS Merchant Solutions and we’ll walk them through the simple setup process. Merchants also have the option to use the linked2pay user interface, which deploys and is ready to use immediately. They also have a full library of APIs available to developers if they want to integrate linked2pay for payment automation. So details on things like pricing and contact forms and signup options are available at tsys.linked2pay.com.
KW: Well that sounds like a great solution for merchants looking to expand the number of payment methods that they can enable and keep it simple and streamlined. One final question – we’re approaching the end of 2014. I’m curious to get your take on the year that we’ll finish in a few weeks, and the what’s next for the year ahead.
CM: I think Apple Pay has been the biggest news of 2014. We’ve been talking a lot about the NFC technology – will it happen, will it not happen. You’ve got the power of a company like Apple behind it, and there are a lot of consumers who are Apple maniacs. The consumers ultimately drive where payments will go. It was surprising in one way, but in others, you’d expect it from a player like Apple.
But to see how quickly adoption seems to be happening, at least from a consumer level. That, coupled with EMV and other things coming in the industry, will push merchants as we roll into 2015 to evaluate their payment acceptance environment and make sure they have the technology to handle EMV transactions, Apple Pay transactions, and more. There will really be a rush for merchants to evaluate and ultimately make changes to the POS environment that will help them grow their business.
Group Executive, TSYS Merchant Solutions
Chris joined TSYS Merchant Solutions Executive Management Team in September 2011 as the Group Executive of Sales, Business Development and Client Relations. With more than 24 years of industry experience, Chris came to TSYS Merchant Solutions from Voltage where he was the Vice President of Payments. Prior to joining Voltage he led national, direct and regional sales teams at NPC for 14 years. He has also worked at First Tennessee and Fifth Third banks. Chris is a frequently requested speaker at various payments industry events. Chris’s expertise spans a variety of industry topics ranging from payment security to mobile technology and social payments.
To listen to the full podcast, click here.