Mobile Commerce

Taking Tokenization Beyond The Transaction


Apple Pay has elevated mobile payments to a topic of conversation across financial institutions and credit unions, large and small. And many of those conversations relate to how these more “traditional” players get their foot in the mobile payments door. PYMNTS caught up with Melissa Santora, Fiserv Product Strategist to gain her perspective on the current and future state of mobile payments’ adoption and how FIs can actually “dust off” old mobile payments strategies to get to the top of any wallet – digital or physical.


Tokenization has become a very popular concept in payments. What impact does tokenization have on financial institutions and the payments industry? 

MS: The impact we’re seeing on financial institutions and the payments industry relative to tokenization has been one of tremendous interest, especially since the launch of Apple Pay late last year. Apple Pay is the first use case for tokenization specifically through the EMVCo specifications, which utilize tokenization for static tokens. Therefore, the token resides on a user’s phone instead of their card number.

One of the main concerns with mobile payments for our clients and their cardholders has been security. So now with tokenization, the token replaces the card number, which isn’t exposed on the phone to the merchant or through the transaction message. That’s a very powerful message for the cardholder.

For our FIs and credit unions, tokenization is a strategy to combine with EMV and our neural fraud detection, call center services, chargeback support, and other risk tools to assist in providing holistic support aimed at mitigating card fraud. Now we’re adding tokenization for mobile to mitigate card-not-present fraud.


What is Fiserv doing to help FIs leverage new developments like tokenization in the marketplace?

MS: We are proactively encouraging our FIs and credit unions to really dust off their mobile payments strategies and become top of any wallet. This means a strategy for the card in a physical wallet, and now for the card in a digital wallet. We want that card to be utilized in any way, anywhere the cardholders would like to purchase and pay. And with Fiserv launching tokenization and Apple Pay this month, it has been our foray into these types of transactions, and to encourage that top of any wallet use. We are encouraging and enabling our issuers to take advantage of tokenization and to broaden their acceptance of payments to ensure they are not dis-intermediated by their competition or perhaps by other third-party providers.


The market expectation is that Apple Pay will be a catalyst to mobile payment adoption. Can you discuss the changes in mobile payments adoption since the Apple Pay announcement?

MS: First, we’ve seen a spotlight on mobile payments for the first time in a long time. The industry was floundering in many aspects of mobile wallet adoption, but we did see cardholders make the Starbucks app for payments, for instance, one of the most used in the industry. Since the announcement, we’ve seen a consolidation of the mobile wallet players and some new entrants. We’ve seen that Samsung will offer Samsung Pay by the end of the year, with their acquisition of LoopPay. PayPal and Google are also positioning themselves in the market. In turn, so are we. 


As new technologies and security approaches are scrambling to become the champion in the mobile payments space, is tokenization here to stay, and what may be next?

MS: It may be too early to say if there’s a champion or one security technology that may dominate the payments space. Tokenization has definitely spurred a proposed standard, and there could be others that adopt the technology for NFC and possibly HCE as well.

What we can say is that we are poised to complement these new technologies, new mobile securities and additional participants to the mobile payments industry to ensure our clients can participate with their cards and service their cardholders through traditional methods or via their participation in the mobile payments space.

Fiserv views tokenization as one more technology change that continues to address the individual needs of consumers. We are focused on providing integrated, omnichannel payments services and wrapping security around every transaction regardless of how the consumer chooses to pay. Payments is about connecting consumers to their funds, whenever and however they prefer – and Fiserv is committed to meeting that market demand.


Melissa Santora
Product Strategist, Fiserv

Melissa Santora is Product Strategist at Card Services at Fiserv. In this role, Santora manages Apple Pay and Tokenization, and leads development and execution of Card Services’ Mobile Payments strategy to ensure delivery of new mobile and payment services, with a focus on the rapidly evolving mobile payments market.

Santora joined Fiserv in March 2014, bringing significant experience in product management, strategic partnerships and payments. Prior to Fiserv, Santora served 12 years at First Data with roles ranging in merchant acquiring to STAR Network product management including STAR Biller-Direct Service and STAR Prepaid. During her time at First Data, Santora also developed and launched STAR RELOAD and was a member of a team that was awarded a patent for loading and reloading cards at the ATM.

Santora holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. She also is a member of the Mobile Payments Industry Workgroup (MPIW) and represents Fiserv on the tokenization sub-group for the Boston Federal Reserve.


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