To paraphrase an old maxim: There is nothing new under the sun.
There are just new ways to pay for it. Payments done digitally or with cards, through watches and kiosks, and … well, name it. Processing those payments, however, is no easy task, with security in the headlines, on Capitol Hill and top of mind for companies and consumers alike.
Amid all this lies the debate over integrated payments. In an interview with Dan Viscount, senior vice president and general manager of EVO Payments’ Integrated Payments Division at Sterling Payment Technologies, the executive weighed in on the challenges and considerations that now lie in front of, and loom for, stakeholders’ up-and-down various sales channels.
Trends abound in payments, said Viscount, with any number of new offerings from the merchants themselves, ranging from alternate financing, loyalty apps, flat-rate pricing and gift card programs. As merchants find new channel “must-haves” to meet demands, the evolution of the customer experience extends through what he termed were “frictionless merchant boarding software solutions, SaaS pricing and installation.”
Beyond the merchant experience, he added, VARs and ISVs are experiencing their own trends and have been actively partnering with nontraditional outlets for new sales channels. Through it all, stakeholders need to ensure they are compliant with data privacy and security standards. EVO and Sterling Payments, said the executive, have seen a lot of their business take place abroad, which means knowledge of security mandates on a market-by-market basis remains critical.
Drilling down a bit, PYMNTS asked about Sterling’s own approach to incorporating compliance and data privacy standards to payment solutions — and whether approaches must differ between integrated and semi-integrated payment solutions.
“When it comes to integrated and semi-integrated payment solutions, the tools and techniques vary greatly. Integrated payment solutions can be costly, as they require updates, making the process very long,” said Viscount. “Semi-integrated solutions are plug-and-play, meaning the implementation is relatively quick, depending on the complexity of the enterprise application and features.”
In terms of technical specifics, said Viscount, semi-integrated has a reduced PCI scope, which eliminates the merchant’s costly, biannual obligation to certify the system. Integrated solutions, by way of contrast, might require 12 to 18 months of a qualified person’s time, beyond the cost, to build the fully integrated system.
No discussion of security would be complete without some acknowledgement of biometric authentication. Working such technology into payments may seem a bit cutting-edge, but as Viscount noted, “biometric authentication is nothing new. Visa released a survey back in February of this year that involved 1,000 Americans and found that 86 percent of them are interested in using some form of biometric technology when it comes to verifying identity or making payments. Whether it be fingerprints, facial or voice recognition, the interest with consumers is present and will only continue to grow.”
But even as consumers are interested in biometrics, merchants are relatively apprehensive or slow to adopt such features.
“That’s probably due to the fact that they just recently paid to upgrade to EMV within the past few years or [are] just generally distrusting of the newer payment verification options out there,” he said.
On a company-specific basis, and offering a roadmap, Viscount told PYMNTS, “We are enhancing our EVO Snap platform to provide easy and seamless connectivity to all 50 markets. One API will connect you to the countries that EVO serves. While we are on the global train, we are also providing a single global platform for EMV.”