Digital Payments

Will Merchants, Consumers Warm Up To SRC Payments?

Checkout Conversion Index Q2 2016 Cover Story

As a species, human beings tend to like consistency. That desire extends to eCommerce, too — and it’s the motivation behind a new digital payments technology called Secure Remote Commerce (SRC), backed by industry heavyweights such as Mastercard, Visa and Worldpay.

The idea behind SRC, and its potential for improving the online shopping experience for consumers, was the topic of a recent PYMNTS discussion with Joel Henckel, senior vice president of U.S. Market Acceptance at Mastercard. The interview took place shortly after Worldpay, a payment processor, said it would support secure remote commerce.

SRC Consistency

The idea behind SRC is pretty simple, said Henckel: free consumers of having to enter card and shipping data for purchases when they want to check out as a guest on a merchant’s website by replacing payment information with a secure token.

For merchants, the use of such a token, which Henckel said cannot be compromised if a card is stolen or lost, reduces the risk of losing a sale from a consumer frustrated by a lengthy guest checkout process. Having SRC as an option at this checkout juncture, he added, potentially saves merchants time, and the cost of integrations to the individual payment options that are included under the technological umbrella of SRC, while providing a consistent guest checkout experience across all the merchant sites where a consumer might shop.

“We want to make the guest checkout experience consistent,” Henckel said in describing one of the greatest values of SRC. He said that since the technology not only stores payment data, but can pre-populate the address and other fields that together constitute a “painful process” for today’s seasoned digital consumers, transactions are finished more quickly, reducing the chances that a consumer might abandon a purchase during checkout.

Abandoned carts are among the main problems that eCommerce operators face — a point driven home by the PYMNTS Checkout Conversion Index. So are real and perceived security concerns, and the simple hassle of requiring consumers to key in too much info before taking their money. Eliminating checkout friction improves conversions, and conversions improve sales on both the mobile and desktop channels. Any payment technology can solve at least some of those problems and win merchant buy-in, with a chance of being a major influence in digital commerce.

Tokenized Payments

In November, EMVCo introduced its SRC framework, a platform-agnostic that gives consumers a choice in selecting their favorite payment method at checkout. SRC creates an encrypted token that outlives the card number and is, therefore, not impacted when cards are lost or when they expire  a common point of friction not only for consumers, but merchants and issuers as well.

Mastercard has estimated that 75 percent of the U.S. card base can be tokenized, increasing the appeal of building a new payments infrastructure on top of SRC technology. The vision is this: a tokenized world where account information is impossible for hackers to access, making consumers feel comfortable when leaving a card on file with a merchant. In short, the mainstream use of SRC would provide a payments onramp that would attract online shoppers and lead to more revenue for merchants.

Henckel said that recent support of SRC from Worldpay could play a significant role in pushing the technology forward.

“They are the first major acquirer to” announce its support for secure remote commerce, Henckel said, “which is very good. They are very relevant in eCommerce and, because of [Worldpay’s] size, they are a good partner to have aboard.”

Getting Merchants On Board

Getting consumers on board means getting merchants on board even more. That will take convincing. Merchants, busy managing their core business of getting consumers comfortable with buying their products, are less enthusiastic about taking on a new payment method, especially when the view is that things work just fine now. Having a card on file  the checkout experience that merchants and consumers both love  is the best checkout experience on the web, and merchants wonder why fix what isn’t broken.

That is certainly in the minds of SRC backers, Henckel said, recognizing that some critics view SRC as another attempt by the networks to promote their own “buy buttons.”

“We’ve got work to do on the education of merchants,” Henckel said during the discussion with Karen Webster. “Either it will be a better guest experience than what they already have for checkout, or it won’t. If it’s not better, they are not going to adopt it.”

Beyond that stark reality resides optimism that enough merchants will warm up to SRC to help it achieve mainstream acceptance. Instead of coding for multiple mobile wallets, for instance, merchants “now just have to code the one button,” which would give consumers a predictable, streamlined checkout experience across devices and browsers, regardless of their issuer. With this trusted, password-free, easy way to pay, there will be less confusion and fewer steps to complete at checkout.

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