Posted November 20, 2019 by FreedomPay

The Rapid & Changing World of Commerce Platforms as a Service

The world of commerce platforms now expands beyond transactional payments—information is king! Host Tyler Kern and Barry Stearn, director of partner success for Europe’s division of FreedomPay, discussed emerging payment trends, and how this fast-evolving landscape is becoming more complex.

“Payments has become really an information business,” said Stearn. “Yes, there is a transactional exchange, there is a packet of data that passes from the merchant through to the processor for authorization…but built in that consumer journey, look at all the elements that exist around that process.”

Stearn went on to explain how the back end-data engine can help businesses, e.g. the service industry, capitalize on the many customer interactions at those establishments.

“At FreedomPay, we have the ability not only to capture information at the point of sale around what that loyal customer is buying, we can also build out an analytical token of said consumer profile,” Stearn said.

This securely stored environment allows the client to better understand who their loyal customer is, and to properly market offers and promotions that make sense.

Posted November 13, 2019 by Bernard Clary

Recapturing Hospitality’s Magic Moments

There’s a magical moment in every really good hospitality experience where a customer thinks “these guys really get me”. The winning formula for anyone involved in the customer experience is that instant connection that not only seals the deal or purchase but leads to unquestionable loyalty.

The personal experience

Everyone appreciates the personal touch. Whether it’s a local barista remembering your regular order, a restaurant that knows you by name and your favorite table, or a hotel concierge that opens the door on arrival.

Replicating these small, highly personal moments, takes more than a responsive website, a cool app or an e-loyalty program. It takes a deep understanding of the individuals experience and their likes and dislikes.

In the face-to-face world this involves a two-way dialogue, personal interaction and engaging conversations. In the digital world, this is harder to achieve.

Combatting disconnect
The so called ‘uberization’ of the hospitality business (via remote, automated systems, mobile and web services) is perhaps in danger of reducing some customer interaction to ‘dumb’ transactions that take hotels, F&B, entertainment  and travel operators even further away from delivering the unique experiences they need to compete effectively.

But all is not lost. By integrating a data-driven smart commerce platform to include secure switching, real-time data, tokenization, and marketing opportunities  solutions, hospitality companies of all sizes can recapture those highly personal and magical moments.

How to deliver the personalized service

A data-commerce platform can generate and store transactional ‘tokens’. These can be used to identify and follow the customer on their sales journeys, tracking their spending and allowing insights to be collected and reused by functions including CRM and logistics.  Basically, acting as an identity broker to track consumers across different technology assets.

This gives businesses a 3600 view of the customer across channels, locations and brands. It allows them to share that visibility, in order to connect-the-dots internally, so they can achieve the ultimate goal – turning transactions into relationships.

The customer journey

So, how does all of this translate into a better valued experience for the customer?  In the simplest of terms, with a data-commerce deployment model, customers could expect to hear “yes” much more often: “Like to pay by mobile? No problem!”, “Prefer to be charged in a local currency? “Of course!”, “Want to use your loyalty points to upgrade and pay in our restaurant? Sure!”.

As well as offering greater payment choice across all channels, a data-connected platform can transform value and loyalty programs by allowing rewards to be effortlessly collected and redeemed across any sales or service point (and those of partners) with ease. Even without a card or membership number.

And that’s only the beginning…

Want to capture the magic for yourself?

Download a copy of FreedomPay’s latest report “Hospitality 2020+The Reasons Why We Talk About Data-Driven Commerce” and discover more.

Posted November 13, 2019 by Bernard Clary

How To Ditch Tech-Complexity That’s Holding Your Hospitality Business Back

We all want to deliver great customer services but realistically it’s not always possible when so much of the back-end tech system is built on legacy applications, siloed operations, outdated and slow machinery  

We all know that nothing ruins the service mix more than complexity, silos and dead ends, but what can be done to simplify it without throwing the whole lot in the trash can and starting again?

The easiest and most efficient way is to integrate with a more intelligent platform; surround and expand what you already have by adding a unifying element that brings the whole IT-function together.

The magic

For most hospitality businesses (restaurants and bars, to hotels and airlines), the secret ingredient comes in the form of an integrated data-driven commerce platform across all channels.

A platform commerce strategy will help deliver a more personalized service while making it easier for those behind the scenes to use data to create the relevant and high value experiences that keep customers coming back for more.

 So, how does it work? 

A connected data-commerce platform really does what it says. It’s a single platform (or gateway), that accepts, manages and stores transaction data – all within a secure network.

It can operate across sales channels, franchises and brands, locations and even countries and the transactional data which flows through it, is rich in customer insight including what, when, how and where they buy.

Now here’s the clever part – unlike traditional payment gateways, a commerce platform doesn’t just connect the traditional payment chain, it can also connect other systems functions including SaaS and software platforms, via open, in-house or proprietary APIs (or in some cases SDK’s).

With the right architecture, non-sensitive transaction data can be instantly routed to other functions such as CRM and ERP systems. This overcomes issues associated with traditional federated systems (like data isolation and lags), allowing valuable real-time data to be shared quickly, seamlessly and without complexity.

From finance and logistics to marketing and stock control, all your hospitality departments can now benefit from instant access to accurate, timely data that helps them manage operations more effectively.

Businesses can go ‘a la carte’ and customize, architecture, pathways and reports, selecting what information they need, where and when, and then using the gateway to make sure it’s delivered exactly to their taste.

But even more importantly, a data-connected platform also helps make services more appealing to consumers. Using tokenization and encryption, it allows businesses to recognize individuals, their preferences and behaviors.

This helps them evolve highly personalized services, push communications, offers and rewards. More targeted initiatives ensure greater engagement and higher ROI for customer acquisition and retention campaigns.


Unlike a closed propriety solution, an open data-commerce platform won’t lock you into a single roadmap, technology path or service model. Instead, you’ll have the freedom to experiment, grow and evolve, whatever the future holds in store.

Want to get started and learn more?

Download FreedomPay’s latest report “Hospitality 2020+The Reasons Why We Talk About Data-Driven Commerce”.

Posted November 11, 2019 by Bernard Clary

Understanding Tokenization

More than a buzzword, ‘Tokenization’ has gone mainstream, protecting merchants against the perpetual threat of omni-channel payment fraud and delivering the seamless, personalized experiences modern consumers love.  Indeed, for anyone wanting to enrich their customer sales journeys, tokenization is now a must.

That said many businesses, particularly smaller merchants and those in hospitality and travel have still to take the plunge. If you’re still undecided, here’s a quick snapshot to explain what tokenization does and how it can help you.

What is tokenization?

Essentially, tokenization protects bank account and credit card numbers by replacing the buyer’s primary account number (PAN) with a randomly generated alphanumeric code or a ‘token’.  This is linked to the payment method but has no exploitable meaning or ‘value’ for criminals as it cannot be reverse engineered to access the payment details.

How are tokens used?
Tokens are kept in a secure ‘virtual vault’ and can be transmitted across wireless networks and shared without risk to the original payment data. They can also be processed at the point of sale without any personal bank details being revealed. It lets you keep any sensitive data separate from your business systems, while allowing any transactions connected to the card or payment method to be tracked across various locations and channels.

What benefits does it offer merchants?

As well as adding an additional layer of security, tokenization helps streamline processes that involve follow-on transactions or repeat purchases by allowing your systems to ‘recognize’ the customer e.g. for e-receipts, one-click purchasing or to autofill payment pages. It also allows you to build a profile of their spending patterns and to provide insights for CRM and marketing to deliver more targeted loyalty programs, promotions and rewards.

Does it impact PCI?

Tokenization is often used in conjunction with PCI compliant point-to-point encryption, to minimize PCI scope, effort and cost for retailers. If no sensitive card data touches their system, it minimizes their risk.

What happens at the POS?
The consumer presents their payment card to the POS device or enters their card number manually on a webstore. The credit card number passes to a token vault (usually a third-party gateway) which generates a token. The token is passed back to the merchant’s system which associates the token with the customer. The merchant can store the token to use in follow-on transactions, such as future sales, voids or returns. All of this takes place instantly and is invisible to the customer.

Are their different types of token?

There are two types:  Single and multiple use. Single use tokens are used purely for data security to safeguard a single transaction and are not stored or linked to further transactions.  Multi-use tokens, on the other hand, can be stored and associated permanently with the customer’s payment method and can be retrieved whenever a customer presents it. For multiple locations, one token vault should be used for each destination as incorrect mapping can lead to cross-token issues.

What do you need to tokenize?
For tokenization to work, a payment gateway is needed to store sensitive data and to generate the random token.

Does it cost?
In most instances there’s no additional charge for the actual token but some gateways may charge a minimal fee to process it and for token storage. All in all, it’s a very small price to pay considering the benefits gained from fraud reduction and experience optimization.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the what and how, at the end of the day the real benefit of tokenization is that its invisible to the user, removes value for fraudsters, and reduces risk while unlocking opportunity for the retailer.

If you’re really serious about taking your retail business to the Next Level, then you need to embrace tokenization – not just for security and compliance but as an important part of your customer-facing strategy. Understanding how it works is just the first step of the journey.

Posted November 11, 2019 by Bernard Clary

Delays And More Delays – What’s Happening With SCA?

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is a key part of the European PSD2 standard and is hotly anticipated to be one of the most important legislations affecting the financial and retail sectors.

Although scheduled for 14 September 2019, its implementation in the UK has been delayed by 18 months to give businesses more time to meet the new requirements. According to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), UK businesses now have until March 2021 to comply.

But reactions to the hold-ups have been mixed. With fraud rates on the rise, some players are frustrated at the delays to consumer security. Others are expressing relief that they now have more time to iron out potential technical issues before they go live.

Are businesses ready for SCA?

Under SCA, online transactions where both the business’s payment provider and the cardholder’s bank are located within the European Economic Area (EEA), at least two of the three following methods are required:

  • Knowledge: something only the user knows, such as a password.
  • Possession: something only the user possesses, such as a token or mobile phone.
  • Inherence: something the user is, such as a biometric element (e.g. fingerprint recognition).

It mainly impacts card payments made over the internet as customer present EMV transactions are already 2-factor authenticated – with a chipped card (possession) and with a PIN (knowledge).   There are also some SCA exemptions e.g. for transactions below €30, reoccurring subscriptions, whitelisting and corporate payments.

Although they’ve had nearly two years to prepare since the initial announcement, UK retailers have been kept busy dealing with other regulatory standards including GDPR, PCI and PSD2 – not to mention the distractions caused by uncertainty around Brexit. Without the SCA extension, many businesses would simply not have enough resource or investment available for the systems and processes required to facilitate multifactor authentication.

How does the market feel about SCA progress?

Given the rising incidence of fraud, many in the industry want to see enhanced, secure digital experiences fast-tracked. At the same time, some are feeling overwhelmed at the complexity and its impact on the customer experience.

To help accelerate SCA and reduce potential friction, lots of retailers are looking at mobile and biometric based authentication as a possible route to compliance. UK retailers will be able to use the delay as ‘breathing space’ to explore new authentication approaches more fully, to implement any technical fixes and minimize disruption – particularly in online transactions.

However, it’s vital that they are ready for the next deadline to fulfil the security promise of PSD2 and to prevent consumers from being disappointed.

Will SCA add drag to frictionless payments?

There is a fear that too much complexity at the checkout will drive sales conversion down.  Merchants are working with the industry and their providers to minimize SCA’s impact on the UX.   There may be some extra security steps for the consumers, but most will welcome this if it means they are better protected. It will also make them more confident particularly when making higher ticket spends online.

We believe that the focus in the next few months will be facilitating secure experience while ensuring the customer has a frictionless user journey, creating faster, better and more ‘seamless’ SCA technology. Having digital core processes and gateways is crucial to helping merchants adapt effectively and accelerate new innovations.

There is always the danger that, in super-fast one-click digital economies, SCA will turn some consumers off. The secret to overcoming this could be using the consumers own technology and familiar processes to ease the experience. Many are very comfortable with smartphone biometrics, for example, and regularly use their phones as part of the authentication process for banking, loyalty and retail apps. Done properly, SCA should become as intuitive to future shoppers as  chip and PIN is for many today.