Taking The Pain Out Of Omnicommerce

Talk about a headache. Following consumers across all of their shopping channels is tough enough, never mind enabling payments and commerce across those channels seamlessly. Vin D’Agostino, EVP for Commerce Enablement at Verifone, is all about dulling the pain and shares his thoughts on how the current omnichannel burden for merchants can be made a little less of a heavy lift.

In the realm of omnicommerce, it can be difficult for merchants to keep up with consumers who are bouncing around various channels. In discussing a new partnership between Verifone and Visa’s CyberSource, Vin D’Agostino, Executive Vice President for Commerce Enablement at Verifone, shared with MPD CEO Karen Webster Verifone’s vision for how its approach to commerce enablement across all shopping channels can help merchants stop bouncing around – in a way that is safe for both them and the consumer.


KW: This is Verifone’s “Year of the Product,” and the announcements just keep rolling on. The latest is your partnership with CyberSource, which is, of course, part of Visa. What is this announcement and how does it advance your overall objective of commerce enablement and payments-as-a-service?

VD: Merchants have customers who seamlessly move between online and physical payments in their purchase journeys – and that presents a bit of a challenge.

Online and in-store payment systems evolve differently and, because of that, they are siloed. A lot of people have thought about how to put them together – some acquirers have tried, but their solutions are proprietary and they don’t really scale. That’s for one simple reason: large merchants use more than one acquirer; there are different leading acquirers in different countries; and most of the online guys – even if they do cross-border – are really pure plays.

What our clients wanted was the ability to enable simple experiences for their consumers. Working with Visa, we’ve been able to put together a product that, first of all, unites what was a fractured payments processing environment. Secondly, we can enable a set of omnichannel experiences so that when a merchant’s consumer buys online and returns to a physical store, or vice versa – or mobile to the physical store – that is all put together on one report for a merchant so that they have a single, consistent view of the consumer.

Additionally, we’re doing this in a way that actually makes payments safer by helping our merchants get to EMV and generally improving the fraud-detection capabilities of Visa with an increased amount of data.

That becomes the foundation of how we are creating a platform that enables omnipayments and omnicommerce.


KW: You’re right – physical retail sort of bolted on the online experience, and now with mobile happening so quickly, that’s yet another bolt-on and it seems hard for all of these systems to work together.

So, what I hear you saying is that the Verifone/Visa partnership is a giant step forward toward eliminating a barrier to omnicommerce, which is something all retailers are after as they follow their consumers across various channels.

VD: That’s exactly right. Today, what often happens is when a purchase is made online but then a return of the same item is made in the store, they look like two completely different transactions to a merchant. As a result, the merchant really doesn’t understand who the customer is – whether he or she is a good customer or not, whether or not he or she has bought a whole bunch of stuff online – because all they have is a narrow view of a single transaction.

What we’re doing puts the foundation in place to change all of that.


KW: It’s an interesting proposition, as you’ve combined the payments service and the terminal service into one bundle. Great for merchants, but isn’t it a little disruptive to the existing acquiring ecosystem?

VD: Actually, I think it’s an enabler for the ecosystem.

Merchants still have plenty of choices; what we’re doing gives the merchant so-called “middleware” – an integrated gateway across their physical and digital properties that enables the experiences I referred to before and allows the merchants to work with the acquirers they choose. In a lot of ways, we’ve simplified the process.

And again, there are a few bells and whistles here, such as the ability to accelerate EMV and access to defense mechanisms.


KW: Prominently advertised on your website is the ability to reduce the cost of acceptance. How do you help the merchant save money?

VD: In terms of EMV alone, by connecting devices through our Secure Commerce architecture, a merchant saves both time and money with its burden of certification being reduced.


KW: You also talk about it making payments safer. CyberSource has a portfolio of solutions made available to its customers, and you referred to EMV being a part, as well. Are there other elements that contribute to the safer commerce experience?

VD: The two things you mentioned are the elements that are foundational to the safe commerce experience, in addition to Secure Commerce architecture.

Our merchant clients receive the benefit of CyberSource’s Decision Manager, which is already the world’s largest fraud detection window and continues to be enriched.

Those are sort of the basic elements, but we all know that there is no silver bullet in terms of fraud detection. A merchant still needs to implement encryption, tokenization, and many other things.


KW: What do merchants have to do in order to take advantage of this partnership between Verifone and Visa?

VD: Both companies will be offering the solution; we’re doing some work now to release our product in late fall. Whether a merchant comes to Visa or to Verifone, either company will be able to put the solution together for it.

Currently, our engineering groups are connecting the two gateways, a process that will ultimately create the experience. We’re also integrating our report systems, so that no matter which one of us a merchant comes to, it will receive a seamless integration.


KW: It’s never easy for a merchant when they’re implementing something new, even if the something new has a lot of value. Will this one be a heavy lift for merchants?

VD: Merchants are solving this today in many ways, and others are still looking for solutions. I actually think our solution takes a lot of work off the merchant’s plate, because it frees them from having to deal with things like with multiple reports and back-end operations, trying to bridge customers across channels and bridge reports across payment silos. Instead, we do it all for them.


KW: What’s been the reaction from merchants?

VD: Really positive. I’m hearing a lot of, “it’s about time,” and “this makes total sense.” And we’re proud of that.