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Posted May 08, 2019 by FreedomPay

RetailEXPO19 With Barry Stearn

Barry Stearn, Director, Brand Partnership Success, talks to our Senior Vice President, Marketing Communications, Liesl Smith, at RetailEXPO19 in London. They talk about the current payments landscape and pain point for services in the retail industry.

How important is it for FreedomPay to be here [at RetailEXPO] today?

It’s crucial that FreedomPay have a presence here today for RetailEXPO. Our whole organization is built around delivering success and revenues through our partner channel, and that obviously spans our product set of eCommerce, card present, moto and mobile as well. So, for us to be here in our own right and supporting our partners such as Oracle, Agilysys, Omnico in their journey and joining us on our journey across different territories such as Europe, it’s absolutely crucial.

Have you had good feedback already at the show?

Absolutely! It’s been quite a whirlwind of engagement so far, our building blocks are leveraging our relationships in our US organizations and our established integrations and taking advantage of them across different territories as well, so it’s been a very collaborative and an exciting journey so far and I’m sure over the course of the two days it’s going to get even more in depth and intense.

And when working with these partners, what are you seeing as the pain points for merchants today?

Again, you could verticalize that question and you could look at supportive different functionality across different verticals. Again, as we’re speaking at a retail event that’s not to say that FreedomPay aren’t very successful in other verticals such as hospitality, F&B and lodging. If we bring it back down to the retail point of view it’s about a general acceptance, and ubiquitous of integrations, so being able to accept card payments across a full omnichannel experience and ensuring that you support all local card brands in different territories.  Also, the standard processes of reliability, speed of transaction and obviously compliance and security are very relevant today.

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Posted May 08, 2019 by FreedomPay

RetailEXPO19 With Chris Kronenthal

Chris Kronenthal, President and CTO, talks to our Senior Vice President, Marketing Communications, Liesl Smith, at RetailEXPO19 in London. They talk about the advancements in payment infrastructure and the main recurring themes of the event.

So this is your first time to RetailEXPO in London, it’s exciting for the company – give me an idea of why FreedomPay, why now? Why are we coming to Europe?

I think we see a pretty substantial change in the eco system here, where originally maybe five years ago, perhaps even up until three years ago, a lot of the focus was on satisfying four chip and pin requirements, merchants were starting to become more educated about how security works in a PCI validated point-to-point encrypted state and now that that’s been embraced by the merchant demographic, they’re wanting the next stage of evolution here. They’re wanting to understand okay I have the payment infrastructure and we understand now the concepts of contactless, of PCI validated security; how do we take that the next step further and integrate that fully into our systems. How do we drive solutions around identity? How do we drive solutions around loyalty? And I think we see a tremendous opportunity to bring a payments platform to market that solves a lot of those merchants needs in a very standardised fashion.

So you talk about integration – how easy it for a merchant to make that change?

That’s really one of FreedomPay’s very strong offerings in the market – the strength of our integration libraries. When we engage an enterprise merchant or a large-scale ISV partner, we have both the methodology and the toolkits to make that integration very quickly. For example, if you’re an enterprise point of sale, even operating in industries as complex as lodging, we can get you up on our platform and utilising a large percentage of our capabilities in as little as four to six weeks.

At RetailEXPO, what are you seeing as the main themes? Are you seeing that FreedomPay is actually offering something unique to the marketplace?

I think a lot of the merchants here are still trying to understand how to implement things like omnichannel concepts, where from a North American market perspective most of our solutions have been fully integrated and essentially omnichannel capable for the past decade. The new addition to the North American market was layering in chip and pin and contactless solutions into those already fully integrated offerings. So, when you apply that to the European market, we find a lot of the merchants here are really looking for that Next Level of platform approach and how they can fully integrate their business to seamlessly tie together identity, loyalty, payments and really use that to drive business intelligence and get to that holy grail proposition a lot of merchants are looking for.

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Posted May 08, 2019 by FreedomPay

RetailEXPO19 With Tom Durovsik

Tom Durovsik, CEO, talks to our Senior Vice President, Marketing Communications, Liesl Smith, at RetailEXPO19 in London. They talk about the main themes of the event and visions for the future.

Tom, exciting to be here. What do you make of [RetailEXPO] so far?

The show is fantastic and thank you for having me here in London. It’s one of the most fabulous cities in the world and as FreedomPay grows globally it’s an important financial centre for us to be not only for our customers but for the consumers

You’ve walked around the floor and looked at various exhibitors. What do you make of the themes coming out?

I think it’s all about innovation. That’s certainly what FreedomPay’s theme is. We’re bringing some of the most innovative products to Europe.

If you’re a merchant walking around RetailEXPO it can be really daunting and very complex. How does FreedomPay fit into that conundrum?

We’re doing a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of educating an industry on why they need to be on a commerce platform. To protect their brand, to innovate going into the future. One of the things we take pride in is we don’t sell, we solution. And everybody else is out there trying to sell merchant services or little black boxes, we’re trying to solve the merchants move into the future and how they are going to outwit their competition.

What do you think the team back in Philadelphia, the HQ of FreedomPay, would make of this show and why is it important to you?

We’ve got to be out in the marketplace. We’ve got to be understanding our partners, merchants and consumers. They are the ones who are really informing our product development. So, we’re spending tens of millions of dollars every year on our software development and it’s shows like this that inform us what we need to be competitive around the world.

What’s your vision for the future?

It’s very clear, actually. When I look around the world, there’s very little investment going in to new products, innovation, and certainly technology. A lot of companies in the eco system are busy selling other things, other black boxes, other merchant services. We’re focused, 100% on technology. When you want water, and you turn on the faucet you go to a water company. When you want electricity and you turn on the light, you go to the electric company. When you need enablement for consumer and merchant payments around the globe, you’ll go to FreedomPay.

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Posted April 17, 2019 by FreedomPay

Where Has it Gone Wrong for the Brick and Mortar Retailers?

It is always sad to see an iconic British high street name like Debenhams fall by the wayside as several have done in the last few years. While there could still be hope for Debenhams, the latest in this sorry roll call, with a number of players vying to take control and turn it around, it has sent yet another warning message to other high street stores hoping to ride out brick and mortar’s decline.

It is abundantly clear that the brick and mortar model has been struggling for a number of years. Shrewd merchants have been adapting their strategy to compete with e-commerce and align with the ever-changing retail landscape, and those who haven’t adapted fast enough have felt the hit.
The convenience and speed at which online purchases can be made have been key factors in the migration of large chunks of market share from high street to online. Enormous overheads from rising rents (£4.3bn in operating lease commitments in Debenhams’ case) and the need for high numbers of staff, equates to high (and rising) costs with decreasing sales – a formula that even the best chief executives might struggle to work with.

While it would be foolish to say that all brick and mortar businesses are doomed, it is imperative for decision makers to review their strategy even if, so far, it has been working for the last 50 years; consumer needs and wants are rapidly evolving and loyalty programs need to keep pace with their expectations.
FreedomPay believes that connected commerce and customer centricity are the pillars of retail and loyalty programs today and tomorrow.

The importance of personalization and digital data

In order to entice the customer, one has to understand the identity of each person. For example, a vegan may not buy into 50% off sausage rolls. This can be done by analyzing the spending habits on an individual basis, for example, using your systems data to identify who your top-spending customers are and rewarding them. Not only that but by crunching the data to see what they buy from you and when, you can reward them in a way that they will actually value highly, perhaps by offering discounts on the products they buy most often and not the ones they aren’t buying, i.e. the sausage rolls.

The megalithic online retailers understand the mantra and place the customer at the centre of their business operations. For brick and mortars, the ‘shopping experience’ is an asset they will always have to trump online retailers and should be utilized to assert an advantage. Aesthetically pleasing interiors and helpful employees are simple but effective examples. The experience is complemented by the ability to earn discounts, free samples, exclusive treatment and VIP access to entertainment. A loyalty card can drive repeat purchases and incentivize shoppers to come to stores and the website alike. Loyalty programs have proven to be a powerful experience for customers but it should be evolving to better please customers and retailers need to invest in modern data architecture that helps build a new personalized, customer centric loyalty model.

Find out more about customer centric models, by downloading the whitepaper: Personalization and Digital Identity: The Keys To Unlock Loyalty.

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Posted April 17, 2019 by FreedomPay

The Advanced Payment Platform for the Entire Commerce System [Q&A]

The modern world of commerce places the consumer first. Today, there are unified commerce platforms that serve in all major sectors of the economy. A commerce platform is basically a single, centralized platform that offers customer engagement in real-time. We have with us FreedomPay- a leading global commerce platform serving leaders in retail, hospitality, gaming, education, healthcare, financial services, and the US government, serving over 20 federal agencies.
Let’s hear more about the success of FreedomPay from the founder and CEO, Tom Durovsik.

What motivated you to start FreedomPay?

In 1995, I was a very successful business executive driving global growth across consumer products and direct marketing. I was intrigued by the new medium “internet” and all forms of emerging technology. I felt a strong desire to get involved in technologies that had the potential to change the world. I founded my first internet startup in 1996 and since then have been involved in SaaS, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Security, Mobility and other technologies that are powering global business and commerce.
How do your products and services contribute to your company’s excellence?

FreedomPay is unmatched across the world as a Unified Commerce Platform providing payment, loyalty and security solutions that enable customers to have a “frictionless” experience. We built the FreedomPay Commerce Platform from the ground up to meet the demands of consumers and merchants on a global scale. The industry is struggling with how to merge legacy technologies that are not prepared to support global commerce- and new emerging Fintech services including technologies outside mainstream commerce. FreedomPay is the platform that unites a growing array of technologies across the world to deliver a single seamless experience.

Commerce is the lifeline for all of our customers. The ability to transact and fulfill the customers’ expectations is job #1. Our Platform must be bulletproof and requires we invest in the finest Software Development and Network Infrastructure assets to support rapidly growing business globally.

What distinguishes you from your competitors and how do you utilize this to your advantage?

Our technology stack is what separates FreedomPay. We employ a continual reinvestment strategy into technology and as a result, our solutions keep getting better. Our technology is disruptive to the status quo; what banks, processors and legacy point-of-sales providers can deliver is simply inadequate. Our global customers are using the FreedomPay Commerce Platform as a competitive advantage and we deliver our solution to companies like MGM Resorts International, Citibank, and HMS Host, who are leaders in commerce technology.

Tell us about your corporate culture. What role does it play in interactions with your clients?

Our team is not taught to “sell” but to “solve.” We bring solutions to our customers that will fuel their business, on a global scale. There is no other company in the world who can deliver on this promise. As a result, we become trusted partners with our customers and it’s ingrained in our corporate culture. Did I mention we have not had an Enterprise Customer leave our platform in over a decade? This is unheard of in the industry and something our entire team acknowledges with pride!

How do you bring in a strong workplace culture?

Every employee shares in the company’s success and profitability. Our culture values customers and winning! We invest in our team members with events, celebrations and a strong focus on community service. We empower team members to do their jobs. We hire people that bring knowledge, experience and who can drive innovation and continually add to our capabilities and subject matter expertise.

What are your goals for improving customer experience?

Continued innovation and reinvestment in emerging technologies. We see Mobility, Shared Networks and Platforms, Big Data and Identity as areas to focus in the future.

How do you motivate your employees to enhance productivity?

As a hyper-growth company growing +70% CAGR for the past 5 years, it is important to 1) hire the right people and be selective; 2) train the team and build skill sets essential for growing careers and customer successes; and 3) keep the workplace an exciting environment with constant innovation and technical prowess. We do not rest on our past successes.

What is your memorable moment in business career?

In the 1990’s I ran a global conglomerate with 5,000 employees across 70 countries. Thinking back, we did not have the benefit of the internet or mobile phones. Imagine the changes in productivity, efficiency and communication these technologies have brought! This was the pivot that’s most memorable in my business career and informs my view and vision of the FreedomPay Commerce Platform “to have a similar transformational effect on the future of commerce.”

What developments or changes do you see having the biggest impact on your business and industry over the coming year?

Stay tuned, we will be announcing developments later in 2019 that will change commerce as we know it today!

This article first appeared in CIO Bulletin.

Tom Durovsik, Founder & CEO
A marketing and new product development executive, Tom has held leadership positions with some of the world’s most recognized consumer brands, followed by a string of highly successful startups focused on emerging technologies including; Internet, SaaS, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Security and Mobility. Tom has built a strong reputation in the business community as a focused leader, a strong hands-on operator, new products visionary and a successful entrepreneur capable of scaling growth globally.
In 1995 Tom founded Intelihealth in partnership with US Healthcare and Johns Hopkins University becoming the first company to provide branded healthcare information to all forms of electronic media globally. Aetna, Inc. acquired Intelihealth in 1999. Tom and his wife are founding members of the Cancer Support Community, a global nonprofit that provides emotional support, education and hope to cancer patients and their families.
“FreedomPay is the engine inside the world’s expanding yet interconnected ecosystem of commerce.”
“We make payments smarter. And utopian commerce possible.”

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Posted April 01, 2019 by FreedomPay

How to Keep and Grow Your ‘Happy’ Customer

We all know the importance of loyal customers.

However, loyal customers can be hard to earn in a noisy world where every business is trying to tempt them with new and exciting deals and offers. We often see a first flush of success and high sign-ups for rewards programs, then low usage, poor return on investment and questionable viability.

However, brands shouldn’t want to ditch loyalty as an asset because it’s far easier and cheaper to retain and grow existing customers than to acquire new ones. So, what’s the answer? It surely must be making loyalty easier to access, more relevant and easier to use; such as creating value that follows the customer across various points of sale.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is something called an analytical token. This is where tech comes in to create, via an algorithm, an identifier code or ‘token’ which is safely and securely linked to the customers payment details, or app, or card, etc.

Analytic Tokens in an omni-channel world

Analytic tokens work across all channels – physical, digital and mobile. With the right architecture, they can also be linked to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and loyalty systems, to provide a 360-degree view of the customer – what they are buying, in which channels, when and how frequently.

Being able to link identity with transaction flow, opens the door to deeper richer and more valuable insight, allowing organisations to ‘follow’ customer journeys and deliver more personal loyalty experiences.

Businesses can track, monitor and remember tokens without compromising payment security. Effectively turning points and rewards into digital types of near money currencies that can be linked to a customer’s ID. This makes them transportable across platforms, channels and even between businesses and brands.

A token-based digital near-money currency

Loyalty schemes often fall flat because consumers find them too restrictive. In most cases they can only be used with an individual or small collective group of retailers with numerous conditions attached to their use. In addition, traditional voucher, code and coupon systems often have a poor shelf-life, with many users failing to redeem them before they run out.
Analytic token-based digital currency doesn’t have any of these limitations or customer pain points. It can be bought, sold, transferred, gifted, or turned into an ubiquitous currency. It can follow the user across a wider ecosystem, and it retains, and can even increase in value as the popularity of the loyalty scheme grows.

Virtual currencies combined with extended retail partner networks and new customer centric loyalty design schemes will redefine the way we all buy goods and services – breaking down usability barriers and making loyalty even more valuable to a merchant’s bottom line.

Find out how to build liquidity into your loyalty architecture by downloading the FreedomPay Report: Personalization and Digital Identity; the Keys to Unlock Loyalty.

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Posted March 27, 2019 by FreedomPay

Tokenization and data – the value in unlocking loyalty at the Point of Sale

Merchants are no stranger to the transformational power of point of sale (POS) data. They already use it to link demand with inventory, create customer profiles for marketing and to spot buying trends in individual and across multiple locations.

However, the true commercial value of sales data lies in being able to drill down to individual customer’s buying behaviors – what they’re buying, where and when, and how they paid for it while staying data compliant.

Revenue hungry brands are eager to tap into this rich vein of data to re-energize their loyalty programs with seamless access to personalized content and tailored rewards. But, without the technology to link it securely to a specific customer, and across business functions, the prospect of meaningfully monetizing is lost.

Smart and safe: Harnessing data and tokenization

So how to unlock it? For omnichannel brands focused on driving stickier relationships, the easiest way to harness data and ID is using tokenization. This works by generating a customer identifier code or ‘token’ which is linked to the payment mechanism. Data from an individual’s sales journey can then be tracked invisibly, with no friction, and without compromising sensitive cardholder details.

Used in tandem with a connected commerce platform, tokens can be shared across business functions breaking down operational silos and connecting sales, CRM, social and marketing activities.

Near-money loyalty: Expanding tokenization

Not only that but tokenized points are 100% transferable and tradeable so they become a near-money currency across brands and outlets. This lends itself seamlessly for loyalty programs. Loyalty suddenly becomes more versatile, usable and attractive for customers – and a potential source of revenue for the merchant.

Using customer data in this way allows brands to execute loyalty as part of their business operations – as a platform not as a ‘point’ solution.

By doing so they can make the shift to truly seamless customer centric loyalty programs, delivering highly targeted and fluid rewards that flow smoothly between multiple vendors. Creating more value-rich experiences, boosting uplift and connecting with customers for longer.

All of this and more is just sitting on the POS waiting to be freed.

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Posted March 27, 2019 by FreedomPay

Identifying the Shift in Alternative Payment Methods and what it means for Consumers

 

 

Customers want more. they want better experiences and that is really what our whitepaper and participation is about this year [at NRF], is really focusing on the consumerization of payments, and allowing customers to be the center of the ecosystem, so that when retailers want to engage, that consumer has the best experience possible.

 

Some of the exciting trends we are seeing [in 2020] are the interests in alternative payment methods, and that’s one of the areas that FreedomPay takes that concept of having a lot of variable payment methods but also tying that back to a merchant to make sure that they can integrate those payment methods into their loyalty program, into their existing business intelligence assets,  so they can get that great 360-degree profile of their customer, and really start to embrace the way they change within their business.

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Posted January 08, 2019 by FreedomPay

How FreedomPay is Enhancing Customer Experience with Integrated Payment Solutions

Keeping pace with the vagaries of complex payment environments is not an easy task. So, what can companies do to stay relevant in the face of an ever-expanding yet interconnected ecosystem of commerce?

Pennsylvania-based FreedomPay has come up with an effective solution to this. “In the realm of ecommerce, there is a unique and pressing need for platforms that are consumer-centric. As such, from the FreedomPay perspective, we begin with the consumer, taking into account the challenges that they face in adopting technology when it comes to the broad genre of payments and cards ecosystem,” begins Chris Kronenthal, President and CTO of FreedomPay.

Placing the consumer at the core of the experience

This is the very ethos that underpins and drives the company’s product development, allowing it to introduce a multitude of unique solutions that place the consumer at the core while ensuring that they can seamlessly adopt the ever-evolving payment technology. Further, to keep up with the trend of globalization that is rapidly taking over the payments landscape, FreedomPay offers a significant opportunity to leverage its platform globally, providing coverage not just for card-not present payments but a fully card-present/card-not-present alternative payment solution that is completely integrated and globally accessible. Kronenthal continues, “One of the things that we remain highly committed to is the concept of fully integrated payments, and that’s a driving principle behind all of our products and solutions.”

To this end, considering the different touchpoints—web, mobile, kiosk, ecommerce, card present—FreedomPay provides a toolkit to integrators to bolt on to its platform in as little as two weeks. “Our solution assists clients in multiple industries, including hospitality, gaming, retail and education, with everything around offers, loyalty, discounting while allowing them to track customer identity, profiling, and customer behavior,” he adds. Besides, the platform seamlessly integrates for EMV—both online and offline PIN and is PCI-, GDPR-, and EMV-compliant, taking the merchant out of scope. With the various integration touchpoints bolted to the FreedomPay platform, covering payments, identity, and a multitude of the compliance requirements that sit on enterprise data warehouse infrastructure, merchants can track their customer identity across any of those touchpoints. “We equip clients with a clean set of data to start diving into for segmentation, marketing, and retargeting for increasing their success ratio for the customer,” mentions Kronenthal.

Seamlessly integrating a single platform to create an exceptional payment experience

As a platform provider, FreedomPay acts as the glue that federates disparate solutions—stand beside devices, semi-integrated appliances, or host payment pages—on a single platform such that they seamlessly integrate to provide exceptional customer experience. In an instance, MGM—one of the world’s leading hospitality and gaming companies—was struggling to provide a unified, integrated experience to its customers, in the wake of an array of point of sales solutions, check-in kiosks, an ecommerce site, a mobile application, along with the gaming operation. FreedomPay stepped in and mitigated the challenge at hand by tying all of MGM’s different point of sales, be it card-present, card-not-present, retail, lodging, food service along with ecommerce onto a single platform. Further, MGM implemented FreedomPay’s PCI-validated point-to-point encryption (P2PE) solution to govern their overall PCI compliance while receiving the best interchange and Bank of America services portfolio. “The company currently also has one of the highest dynamic currency conversion adoption rates, and our unique integrated plug-and- play solution was deployed around different properties within five weeks,” underscores Kronenthal.

One of the prominent, distinct capabilities of FreedomPay lies in driving the same level of integration capabilities similar to those of emerging fintech players while also serving as a pureplay technology company that doesn’t necessitate merchants to disrupt their existing technological footprint. “We act as the bridge that links the entire existing infrastructure, enabling clients to innovate and accelerate product adoption. This gives us a tremendous competitive advantage in the US and the emerging markets of Europe and APAC where we are currently expanding,” concludes Kronenthal.

This article first appeared in Banking CIO Outlook.

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