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Posted January 24, 2020 by FreedomPay

Navigating the Payment Gateway Ecosystem

We live in an open world – open for choice, collaboration, and opportunity. Being open involves connecting and networking in new ways and in the context of the retail environment, that means building and growing new ecosystems.

While most are familiar with the ecosystems that already exist between retailers, acquirers, and banks, a new set of digital and cloud-based ecosystems continue to emerge that delivers a plethora of next-generation, value-added services straight to the point of sale (POS) or online checkout. At the heart of this is the commerce and payment gateways that act as central hubs, linking the various data flows and platforms within expanding retail ecosystems.

It’s time to rethink gateways.

The concept of the commerce gateway as a doorway to an exciting ‘plug and play’ service playground is still new to many retailers. To help them navigate their way through the complexity, we’ve put together a quick guide to help them understand the changing role of the payment gateway in facilitating these new ecosystems:

 

  • Expanding portfolio of APIs and Toolkits

Gateways now offer powerful APIs that allow merchants to connect with thousands of third party scripts and shopping carts while also aiding the development of new applications through toolkits and plug-ins, developer portals and sandpits. With these added APIs, retailers can create their own subscription services, on-demand marketplaces, or even crowdfunding platforms using a range of development languages, including Ruby, Python, PHP, and Java. Some gateways will also support hundreds of currencies and offer features such as mobile payments, subscription billing, and one-click checkout.

 

  • Fast to market plug-and-play marketplaces

Payment gateways are increasingly offering access to their own pre-built app marketplaces – packed with third party offerings that can be used to enrich retailers’ checkouts – from loyalty gamification and e-charity donations to bill splitting and currency conversion. These can dramatically reduce the time to market of launching new POS services, allowing merchants to browse, choose and deploy apps instantly, or remove them, as consumer and market needs dictate. In this way, they can try-out, evaluate and opt for the best service apps for their audiences without committing to long-term lock-in.

 

  • Secure access and sharing

Modern commerce platforms can separate out payment transactions from service platforms, to ensure that sensitive payment data is never compromised within the ecosystem. Equally important is their ability to deliver multiple user support and logins so that service teams and other business functions (including accounts and compliance) can access reports and specifically authorized features. It goes without saying that these also ensure a visible audit trail that links specific actions to authorized users. In addition, gateways can also provide custom security settings as well as anti-fraud capabilities to ensure that the transaction path is secure at all times, protecting against fines, fees, and chargebacks.

 

  • Tracking complex customer journeys

To aid targeting, personalization and more effective loyalty incentives, offers and promotions, it makes sense to be able to track customers and their journeys across retail ecosystems – between brands, channels, and locations. The gateway can aid this using tokenization, to ‘follow’ the customer through various journeys by allowing payment methods to be linked to transaction activity. Through data anonymization, information such as what, when, where, and how purchases and interactions were made can be shared across functions and brands within the ecosystem, without compromising sensitive cardholder or payment data.

 

  • Relationships must be reengineered, too

From Alibaba and Amazon, the development of the retail marketplace as an aggregated website is reshaping the global definition of the retailer and the sales ecosystem. Brands are now squeezing their way in between retailers and their customers, particularly in new e-marketplaces inclusive of review sites and comparison sites, payment providers, loyalty apps, returns companies, influencers, and social media.

 

Retailers can’t afford to wait for the customer to be ready to purchase their product, they need to get closer to them before they decide to buy. Owning or running a commerce gateway allows retailers to build their own ecosystems that put customers’ desires and needs first by enabling them to find new ways to interact (content marketing, geolocation and push services) and to personalize experiences.

Check out our blogs on DPN, tokenization and business intelligence for more ideas on how to fast-track to success!

 

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Posted January 22, 2020 by FreedomPay

Top 5 Challenges Facing Retail CTOs in 2020

Retailers are embracing a range of disruptive technologies that are set to fundamentally change the way they interact with and service their customers.

But what does this mean for the executives running the operations behind the scenes?  How are they coping with the pace of change and what are the challenges that will impact their IT strategies in the months ahead?

As we continue working closely with CTOs in leading retail and hospitality brands, we’ve put together some of the topline issues they’ll be wrestling with in 2020:

Legacy management and smashing silos

Mobile, cloud services, big data, analytics, and social media rank highest among the technologies that CTOs see as transforming retail from the way we know it. Yet for many, leveraging these trends is a tricky proposition. How best to maintain availability while adding functionality to existing legacy systems (which may already be creaking at the seams) impacts many of their waking decisions. (Read our Welcome to Hospitality 2020+ white paper here).

In 2020, they’ll continue to seek solutions that help them surround and expand their existing assets using Open APIs and toolkits to integrate wherever they can. They’ll also be looking to free up data flows, connecting business functions in order to break down data silos (e.g. CRM, ERP, Web analytics) and deliver a 360 view of the customer to decision-makers and planners.

Optimizing resources and changing cultures

In too many cases, retail and hospitality IT agendas are hampered by a lack of key resources and business alignment – skills, people, budget, infrastructure.

The focus is often on fueling functional cost savings rather than driving business growth and sourcing innovation. Retail CTOs will need to get out of the back office and lead the innovation agenda if they want to secure the resources they need the dynamic new world of retail.

CTOs must focus their teams on innovating and differentiating the customer experience. Cloud solutions and integrated com

merce platforms will be a major enabler of retail transformation, allowing CTOs to more effectively leverage commodity technology and processes while dedicating valuable internal resources to driving deeper business and customer engagement.

 

 

Building better customer UX (without blowing the budget)

As everyone involved in innovation knows, it’s often the invisible assets that are hardest to deliver. There’s now more pressure than ever on CTOs to enable marketing and acquisition teams to attract and engage consumers – either through faster, responsive and more personalized online interactions, or by helping to create more exciting and inspiring experiences in store at the point of sale (POS). CTOs are being positioned to deliver bigger, better, faster, cheaper platforms – and with less liability too.

Protecting data and reputation

Fraud is the challenge that never goes away. The more channels, payment types, and services a retailer offers, the harder CTOs must work to ensure that payment and data chains are locked down.  Retail Fraud is running at 30%, with merchants now paying $3 for every dollar lost. Faced with chargebacks, fines, and loss of reputation, the heat is on for CTOs to keep their business, management teams and customers better protected.

It’s not just about implementing more fraud prevention solutions, CTOs must select the right combination and layering of core, identity and fraud transaction solutions to defend against increasingly sophisticated threats. To ease the burden, ever more CTOs will choose to outsource risk, investing in payments as a service (SaaS) platforms to shift liability onto their provider and remove their own infrastructure from scope.

Dealing with compliance and ‘the domino effect’

Managing data comes with a minefield of rules including those that can be state-based (e.g. California’s AB375 consumer privacy act), international (e.g. GDPR data protection regulations), payment-related (e.g. PCI DSS), or for anti-fraud (PSD2’s Secure Customer Authentication (SCA). Additionally, these legislations don’t include POS certifications and card issuer mandates that are required to avoid fees and chargebacks.

So much regulatory change creates a domino effect that triggers time and effort –  keeping legacy systems and processes up to date, continuous auditing, reporting, and training – has become a major burden for tech-heavy retailers. Finding new ways to reduce risk and ease the burden, through cloud-outsourcing, payment gateways, encryption, and tokenization is becoming a strategic imperative for CTOs. Even the smallest businesses are now investing in security and compliance specialists to help support them.

Of course, these challenges are just the tip of the iceberg for retail CTOs.  According to Gartner, in 2019, retailers’ investment in technology is expected to grow 3.6%, hitting $203.6 billion over the course of the year. In 2020, much of the focus for CTOs will be in bedding in new assets and systems and ensuring they deliver a positive return on investment (which will mean even more scrutiny by their boards).

With as much change in front as behind them, there’s a long road ahead, but with the right technology and payments partners, they can spread the effort and lighten the load.

 

 

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