From NFC contactless payments to emerging beacon technologies, the vibrant omnicommerce space is ripe for technological innovation. As Matt Ozvat, VP of Developer Integrations at Vantiv, pointed out in a discussion with MPD CEO Karen Webster, developers at the point of sale are taking advantage of ever-growing opportunities to drive innovation where merchants and consumers need it most.
While software developers play a significant role in retailers having the ability to meet and exceed the evolving needs of consumers, it can be difficult for merchants to keep up with the latest happenings and innovations. But, as Ozvat and Webster made clear, the PYMNTS’ Developer Tracker, powered by Vantiv, provides merchants with the resources needed to stay up-to-date with the players and technologies impacting the omnicommerce landscape
KW: Why is it important to track developers?
MO: Being a developer myself, I’m always interested in innovation and keeping up with what’s the next cool technical gadget or thing that will be used by merchants. It’s really exciting to see that, and the Developer Tracker provides a tremendous awareness and it highlights a community of innovation that we want to encourage. Our goal is to showcase the innovations made possible by point-of-sale (POS) developers and provide that awareness so other folks can see what’s going on and what new ideas are happening. This also allows for the assembly of a great ecosystem of further innovations as well.
Vantiv’s Developer Integrations department works closely with POS developers to provide a workbench and simple tools to enable our developers to ignite those innovative concepts. I’m tremendously excited about the relationship with PYMNTS and the initiative on the Developer Tracker to again bring that awareness and continued innovation.
KW: You made a good point and that is that developers look at opportunities to use technology to fill gaps. Can you provide some examples of the types of gaps you see developers chasing and creating really interesting ideas to fill?
MO: Definitely! We serve POS developers across different merchant verticals, everything from restaurants to card not present, and even retail, which contributes to the whole omnicommerce purpose here. The gaps our developers are filling today are heavily weighted on contactless payments of course, but within contactless payments we are seeing other innovations such as drive-thrus and kiosks, which are really simple ways of invoking payments transactions.
We are seeing really nifty payment-less like experiences emerging, similar to what Uber does where you don’t have to worry about paying when you get out of the car. POS developers are also driving innovation through the use of NFC wristbands for resorts or cruises. For example, this technology enables you to give your child a wristband so they can go to the resort and pay without having a credit card.
There are also gaps surrounding both geolocation and beacon technologies, which again developers are just innovating on top of and it’s just so exciting to see. There has really been a flurry of innovation that has come into the industry during the last year or so.
KW: With all of the developers and the innovative ideas out there, how do you, at Vantiv, decide which to support? Or do you just let a thousand flowers bloom and provide developers with access to your platform and tools with the hope that they can come up with something that gains traction?
MO: The platform Vantiv provides casts the widest net as possible. However, we have to be mindful, especially in today’s age, of what security compliance and regulatory operational mandates are out there. It’s important for us to keep those compliance and security regulations top of mind along with innovation. Obviously some of the ideas that do not keep security in mind won’t fly and won’t always work for our merchant locations. But the ones that are solving problem statements, especially those around security and innovation, is where we are seeing some real interesting things occur.
KW: Let’s talk a little bit more about omnicommerce, which is a big area where there are so many opportunities to improve the consumer experience but also the merchant experience. What are you seeing in terms of developer activity? And for developers who are working to help fill the gaps in omnicommerce, what are some of the challenges that they face?
MO: I’m going to go back to something we talked about a second ago — that’s security, because security solutions are critical in omnicommerce. Deploying a solution from the POS developer to the merchant location, first and foremost, has to be secure, but we also don’t want the merchant to have to worry about security in payments. We want to keep that as simplified as possible, where the merchant is not caught up in doing a self-assessment questionnaire or dealing with day-to-day worries related to charge backs. The POS developers have a tremendous opportunity here to develop solutions, simple solutions, which can really alleviate a lot of the merchants’ work or requirements to prove they are PCI-DSS compliant, as an example.
KW: It’s interesting because I think what is so powerful about what you just described is that developers can focus on the problem they are trying to solve without having to worry about all of the “other” things about payments. While critical, they are not always directly related to the problems that the developers are solving for.
MO: Yes, I think one example of that is using a security solution like tokenization. Tokenization was first presented as a solution to help reduce the likelihood of a breach, but POS developers are taking that tokenization concept and relating it to payment-less experiences. By dedicating a token to an NFC armband, for example, that token is then used to invoke a payment transaction. There are many other examples of POS developers taking security products, turning them around by adding the value-add and then presenting the merchant with a double win: a solution that first provides a new merchant experience but also helps them from other security requirement perspectives.
KW: Why do you think developers are so enthusiastic about developing solutions at the POS? Is it because they see an opportunity to reinvent the experience on mobile, or is there something else driving their enthusiasm?
MO: There’s a tremendous opportunity to address the challenges in the industry right now, which POS developers are taking advantage of. One example that we discussed earlier is the ability to take security solutions like tokenization and develop a value-add to innovate payment-less like experiences. It becomes a solution that not only provides a cool experience, but also contributes to compliance alleviation for the merchant.
Furthermore, as security tightens within the industry, POS developers have the ability to create an opportunity for merchants to better rise to these challenges, which is something we are definitely seeing across our platform.
For more on software developers, click here to take a look at our PYMNTS.com Developer Tracker, powered by Vantiv, a monthly update designed to update merchants about eCommerce and commerce-related software developer news and trends.