B2B Payments

Commanders in Chief: Merchant Link’s CIO Keeps Data Security on Its Toes

Payvision's Take On Simple Innovation

Security in payments — it’s what consumers and retailers alike need to have successful interactions.

With connected devices within arm’s reach of most consumers, secure payments have moved over to the digital arena. Although there may always be consumer concerns over payment security, merchants need to continually refine prevention efforts. According to American Express’ 2017 American Express Digital Payments Survey, 73 percent of merchants claim fraudulent online sales have remained the same or seen a slight increase over the last year.

In this week’s Commander In Chief series, PYMNTS talks with Scott Carcillo, chief information officer for payment gateway and data security solutions provider Merchant Link, to learn what inspires his company and work.

Here’s an excerpt from the conversation:

PYMNTS: How does Merchant Link manage innovation?

SC: We have three-year product roadmaps that are based on customer and market feedback. We augment that by having an innovations team with a chief innovations officer who looks at interesting opportunities and creates POCs for new tech/features/capabilities.

In addition to this, we host industry-based customer groups to ensure we’re regularly getting feedback. We participate in all the major forums around our customer verticals, as well as payments industry events, to ensure we’re seeing where the industry is heading.

Lastly, we look at disruptive technology in other industries, such as Uber and Lyft, to understand how their ideas and approaches can be applied in the markets we serve — or how we can bridge our technologies to those industries. This is accomplished by participating in annual shows like Coca-Cola’s “The Bridge” conference, attending conferences like CES and studying major players in adjacent industries, such as Google and Apple.

PYMNTS: What are the things that keep you up at night?

SC: First and foremost, ensuring we are safe and secure and not breached. Everyone is at risk of it, every day. Making certain we’re doing as much as we can to secure our environment is a core part of our value proposition to merchants.

Next, I think about industry consolidation and the challenges and opportunities it brings to our business, our merchant customers and the entire payments ecosystem.

Lastly, but crucially important, I think about new market and adjacent market entrants to understand what they are doing, where they are headed and how we can be a part of that value proposition. Ensuring value is continually there and continually growing is the single greatest challenge a business has.

PYMNTS: What trends are you watching that affect industry?

SC: There are a series of changes in our marketplace that are affecting businesses and providers:

  1. Proliferation of personal data being used to target market, create offers, understand frequency/average ticket/external buying behaviors and to channel that information into increased per-site revenue. We’re also seeing the leveraging of similar data for efficiency in the merchant site.
  2. Consolidation. Independent software vendors (ISVs) are being purchased by acquirers, then purchased by larger acquirers — multiple ISVs purchased by acquirers. We’re seeing differentiation in vertical one-stop shopping solutions versus best-of-breed approaches where the merchant is now trying to evaluate ease against innovation.
  3. Convergence of mobility solutions and Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV), and the expanding reach of EMV into the card-not-present world. This one will be very interesting to understand in the coming years.
  4. Lastly, the effect tech-savvy, experiential-based, networked consumers — such as millennials and other tech adopters — have had and are having on the marketplace. For instance, Apple recently announced a Venmo-competitive product for peer-to-peer payments, and it will be interesting to see what that means for value drivers in the future.

PYMNTS: Please share some of the innovative things you’ve been a part of.

SC: At Digex, we built self-healing networks. In Desert Storm, 38 percent of casualties were due to friendly fire. We used technology to reduce that to 1.2 percent in the next conflict. At GE, we converted $2 billion of $6 billion in revenue for an LOB from brick and mortar to eCommerce in an 18-month window. At Wynn, we oversaw all technology innovations deployed at Encore and in Macau, including full virtualization.

Here at Merchant Link, we innovated our in-store experience, analytics, omni-channel tokenization, and security offerings.

PYMNTS: What do you wish you had more time to do?

SC: Spending time with the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, Chase, First Data, Uber, Lyft and other market makers to collaborate and innovate even more substantively together.

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Latest Insights:

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. In the December 2019 Mobile Card App Adoption Study, PYMNTS surveyed 2,000 U.S. consumers for a reveal of the four most compelling features apps must have to engage users and drive greater adoption.

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