X
Posted May 11, 2022 by FreedomPay

How the Convergence of Payments and Tech is Leading to Connected Commerce Models

By: Peter Georgopulos, VP of Sales, Omni-Channel Payments at FreedomPay

It’s 2022, and once again consumer behavior has changed due to circumstances outside the control of your organization. Geopolitical events, pandemics, inflation & social media noise have all influenced consumer behavior while retailers have been in a tailspin for the last decade trying to keep up with new competitive pressures from major online providers, ever increasing compliance regulations, and the daily threat of a data breach.

In many cases, technology investments have been made to solve for these types of challenges with the promise that they would also enable omni-channel sales experiences. When the crisis de jour arrived, many organizations could only respond with broad tactical payment solutions. Alternative payments, BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) payments, and Contactless payments were the typical response. This “one-size fits all” approach provided some benefit, yet did little to enhance the relationship customers had with their favorite store or restaurant.

Indeed, many retailers soon figured out that their investments provided a multi-channel payment solution, not an omnichannel one for the customer. Multi-channel solutions focus primarily on being able to take a payment at various sales channels, tokenize it, and securely transmit it to the processor/acquirer of your choice. Simply put – these abilities are table-stakes in today’s digital world. A true omnichannel payments approach puts the customer at the center of it’s strategy.

Knowing, quite literally, “who” is buying, “what” they are buying, “when” they are buying, and “where” they are buying can be a burdensome task for many companies, but it is critical in today’s world. The challenge providing this solution often lies in legacy technology silos within the payments ecosystem (be it your own, or your solution provider’s). Due to the rapid pace of retail and ever evolving changes in the payments industry, many companies have had to boot strap legacy technology silos together to meet near term market demands.

In-Store payments often will use one platform, eCommerce transactions another, and loyalty & incentive programs yet another. Integration between these disparate systems never ends as new payment types and sales channels continue to emerge. So much time, energy and budget are spent on simply enabling data to pass from one system to another that there is no time to focus on the actual customer generating the revenue.

Retailers must be able leverage data from their loyalty systems, POS payment system, mobile App/wallet, as well as their website. Artificial Intelligence driven business data platforms can then provide powerful insights about your business. For example, by juxtaposing customer provided profile data with historical transaction activity retailers can gain deep insights into the needs of the consumer, and subsequently craft unique experiences/offers that align with these needs.

In summary, an omnichannel payments approach puts the customer first. It recognizes that mobile and social media platforms have enabled customers to use channels simultaneously and a coordinated approach to influence this behavior is required. Understanding your customers historical shopping patterns AND providing individualized incentives to influence their behavior is the key to staying relevant in today’s digital economy. Do all of this while providing a frictionless payment checkout and you will indeed have an omnichannel strategy that delights your customers and grows your revenue!

SHARE NOW
Posted April 25, 2022 by FreedomPay

Does Apple’s Point of Sale Software Mark a New Dawn for Retail Payments?

By: Paul Snelling, Director of Platform Solutions at FreedomPay

Working in Payments — while very rewarding — isn’t exactly showbiz. However, Apple — world leader in ultimate cool tech — could be about to change this by shaking up how we pay. Could my job become a crowd-pleaser?

Apple has a long, substantive history of adopting new technologies and product designs. It hasn’t always developed emerging tech. Instead, pioneering easily adoptable tech and driving it to a mass market, global audience has positioned Apple among the world’s largest and most profitable companies. Apple recently announced its upcoming software update, Tap to Pay, enables iPhones to serve as a card payment terminal, demonstrating the multinational’s latest pioneering, technological focus on the Payments industry.

Could the Tap to Pay iPhone software update become a viable, mainstream alternative to the traditional payment terminal? Will consumer devices and SoftPoS (Software Point of Sale) replace merchants’ in-store hardware?

In my opinion, Apple entering the Payments market is very positive. The move will validate the use case for enabling contactless card payments using consumer devices as payment terminals. FreedomPay customers and partners are lining up to get on board, asking when FreedomPay will enable Apple Tap to Pay. Until Apple’s announcement, I’d considered myself ahead of the curve in my personal approach to SoftPoS: advocating turning Android devices into payment terminals. I’m excited that this vision is a step closer to reality. Nevertheless, the development presents many more questions than answers for the Payments Industry.


Does Tap to Pay mean that Apple will penetrate Merchant Services?
No. Or at least, not yet. Apple has announced partnerships with payment goliaths such as Stripe and Shopify. Apple will retain consumer control through Apple Pay, and merchant control through Tap to Pay.

However, there is nothing to prevent the tech giant cutting out the traditional acquirers and processors if they acquire a merchant services license. Akin to the recent acquisition of Credit Kudos, a British company which enters Apple into the world of Open Banking and replacing the need for a partnership like it’s one with Goldman Sachs in the US, to be able to offer device financing.

It seems that Tap to Pay could financially benefit merchants by reducing the costs associated with accepting payments.

Merchants highly value a straightforward, seamless payment experience for their customers and team. They tend to care less about the players involved in the transaction ecosystem than about receiving timely, secure payment into their account for goods or services provided.

If SoftPoS providers can simplify and reduce the cost of customer-present payment acceptance, mass adoption is a distinct possibility.


Is SoftPoS Secure?
Handling of consumer payment data using traditional payment terminals must comply with P2PE, a secure strict standard set by the Payment Card Industry Council. A P2PE-approved solution is table stakes for a provider to bid to sell or rent payment terminals to merchants. This requirement becomes even more stringent with sizeable merchants.

P2PE does not apply to SoftPoS. The PCI Council recently defined new standards for the secure capture of card details and authentication credentials, such as PIN numbers. The measures are under review by a limited industry audience, with an aim to make them visible to all industry stakeholders towards the end of 2022.

Defining standards to protect our data across devices within an open ecosystem like Android can be an arduous and complex task. Apple’s closed ecosystem has a distinct security advantage. But as it is not regulated by an independent body, what risk could Tap to Pay pose to consumer data?


Will SoftPoS replace traditional payment terminals?
An industry shift towards SoftPoS won’t happen overnight. Major merchants utilize integrated solutions across thousands of PoS and PMS. On the other hand, many SMEs do not own their payment terminals.

Payment terminals typically cost $200-$800 to buy or $15-$40 a month to rent. Whether a merchant owns or rents a number of devices impacts heavily on the cost of changing to a SoftPoS.

Configuring an iOS or Android device with an NFC reader into a secure payment terminal may reduce costs associated with payment processing and impact a merchants’ bottom line.

At technology evolves, merchants may eventually be forced to replace their terminals, just as we’ve swapped our Nokia 3210s for smartphones.

Disruption is rife throughout the payments industry. Options that challenge the use of scheme branded cards to settle transactions at a Point of Sale are emerging. Companies like FreedomPay, with its agnostic approach, are set to benefit greatly. Additionally, Biometric technology and QR Codes remove the need for NFC readers and can offer consumers secure payment solutions.

From a consumer perspective, there are huge disparities in the readiness of consumers to embrace payment technologies such as contactless payments, digital wallets, and SoftPoS. This can vary by geographic region or demographic. Tapping our cards against smartphones and other consumer devices could become commonplace over the next 5 to 10 years. Or will a wave of alternative payment methods drown out the SoftPoS revolution entirely?

FreedomPay was the first to market with a P2PE approved EMV solution for North America, as well as the first QR code-based BNPL in-store solution in the US. FreedomPay is closely following the PCI Council’s assessment of the MPoC security standards. This industry standard for SoftPoS is scheduled for release later in 2022, after which FreedomPay will be ready to add this proposition to our Next Level Commerce Platform.

As an industry, we must approach technological changes with positivity and collectiveness. With any industry, change is inevitable, but it’s not the change that matters. It is how we adapt and embrace it that will ultimately determine how the future of payments unfolds.

SHARE NOW
Posted January 30, 2020 by FreedomPay

What Does the Future Hold for Self-Service Kiosks?

Kiosks can be used in more places and do much more than ever before – from fast food ordering in restaurants (e.g. McDonald’s) to integrated transport and entertainment ticketing.

Devices are now more robust and resilient and, as a result, are popping up in more locations. Kiosks are now being developed as hyper-efficient, with low energy requirements and instant sleep/wake up modes, some even offer solar-powered options that allow them to operate off-grid.

Kiosks come in all shapes and size too, with a whole raft of integrated features and functionality including touch screens, full-color displays, multimedia, voice activation and more. The one common capability they share, however, is that they can accept payment whether it be by card, contactless, and even by mobile.

Technology is reimagining unattended payments

Kiosks will have to work harder to deliver what modern retailers need (new revenue opportunity) and what consumers want (even more convenience). Luckily the technology needed to facilitate this is already here.

We now have internet-enabled kiosks, supported by managed platforms and run from integrated connected gateways, using cloud-based services. These are opening new opportunities and functionality for kiosks. Here’s a taster of what’s in store:

• Tokenization will play a star role

Kiosk owners need ways of letting customers feel in control of their experience but still being able to ‘connect’ with them. Increasingly, tokens will be used to customize the consumer’s journey and encourage uplift in sales by pushing real-time promotions and loyalty incentives.

• Kiosks will power cross-brand/location marketing

By using payment gateways to pick up tokens, retailers will be able to follow consumers outside their own channels and across multiple-brand journeys, creating ‘bundled’ experiences. For instance, a car park ticketing machine could alert nearby retailers and restaurants when a visitor arrives so that they can send an automated email, text or proximity alert for local offers and promotions to their mobile phone.

• Connected platforms will deliver hybrid virtual/physical services

Self-service installations will increasingly be used to straddle digital and physical worlds and provide hybrid services. Internet connectivity and touch screens allow users to browse inventory as well as order, pay, and redeem available rewards. Add-on devices and AI could be used to enhance the consumer’s experience, for instance, virtual mirrors for fashion and cosmetics.

• Smart kiosks will respond to real-time shopping patterns

Connected installations mean that data, software, and updates can be delivered to kiosks remotely, enabling retailers to be more in control and responsive to customer needs. With insights from kiosk-generated real-time reports, retailers can customize services remotely by switching functionality on and off and adding new features to reflect local trends, seasonal patterns, special events, etc.

• New self-serve ecosystems will embrace third party content and apps

There’s a real opportunity for kiosks to deliver multi-brand services making them important new revenue streams for their owners. Third-party content and advertising can already be enabled by platforms such as FreedomPay’s DecisionPoint Network (DPN). With new commerce platforms, providing separate environments for coding, testing and experimenting with external apps, we could soon see kiosks enriched with customer-facing services – e.g. concierge, curators, maps and travel guides.

Thanks to new platforms and technologies, it’s clear that kiosks now have the potential to become an integral part of the omnichannel sales experience and an important gateway to the new collaborative digital service ecosystem of the future.

 

SHARE NOW
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.

 

 

SHARE NOW
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.

SHARE NOW
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.

SHARE NOW
Posted January 01, 1970 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 omni-channel 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.

SHARE NOW