Get Ready 

For The

by Michelle Graf

   The world of electronic payment is changing in very exciting ways. Debit cards, smart-cards and a variety of value-added applications - from loyalty and gift cards to age verification and couponing - are transforming the traditional point-of-sale into a lucrative point of profit. And ISOs need a family of solutions designed specifically for this changing market solutions to deliver the value necessary to make a difference in the competitive market of merchant acquiring. Solutions must be reliable and easy-to-use, but ultimately, to make a competitive difference, they must help ISOs attract new merchant business, improve merchant retention, and generate new sources of fee income. But with all the choices on the market today, how do you know that the selection you make will support your needs today and position you for success down the road?
   It's time to join the multi-app generation. Are you ready?

Lesson 1: Not All Merchants and Terminals are Created Equal.

   Because merchant needs vary, ISOs must be armed with a portfolio of payment solutions: credit-only terminals, integrated debit and credit systems, smart card ready devices, and true multi-application/multi-function solutions. This not only arms you with the right terminal at the right price but to enables you to cross-sell value-added services and emerging technologies(the keys to improving merchant retention. Carrying a portfolio of solutions that share a common user interface and payment application makes selling, training and supporting a diverse merchant base easier for you.
   No matter which solution best fits a merchant's environment (from payment only to payment plus value-added applications) it must be easy to install and easy to use. An ATM-style interface featuring a large display and intuitive keypad has been proven to simplify clerk training and reduce calls to the help desk. Integrated thermal printers speed throughput, reduce paper jams and lower repair costs since there are no moving parts that can break. And when you're ready to offer PIN-based payment functions such as debit and EBT, make sure the device can support a dual interface by either swiveling to face the customer, or by being handed across the counter to the customer for input. Why connect more peripherals and cables when one terminal can do it all? And make sure the terminal is smart-card ready and supports emerging requirements such as EMV. This can be accomplished by buying the integrated technology in an all-in-one terminal now, or by plugging in an EMV-approved device when you're ready to make the investment in smart cards in the future. Bottom line: look for a family of compact easy-to-use terminals that share a common user interface.

Lesson 2: True Multi-app. What to Watch For.

   There's a lot of buzz in the market about "multi-app". Here's a handy checklist to use in determining if a terminal will stand the test of time:

  • You need a solution that is powerful, easy to use and reliable. Emerging requirements such as EMV for smart cards will demand the power of a 32-bit processor, and most terminals on the market today were designed for debit and credit only, and their 8-bit processing speed may not be able to keep up. Look for a compact all-in-one device to reduce the clutter of printers, peripherals and cables on the merchant countertop. And finally, buy with confidence and choose a solution that's built to last, one that will support field upgrades for options including advanced communications and smart card support.
  • You need a solution that's true multi-app, not just multi-function. An innovative ISO is always looking for applications and services that add value to their total solution offering. Don't be hampered by an architecture that can't separately and securely support both your basic payment application and a new value-added application such as gift card or age verification. And don't settle for a solution that requires painful re-certification to the basic payment application whenever you add or change an application. Make sure the solution you choose offers true application separation and robust security.
  • You need a solution that securely protects your investment. As you make the move to the multi-app generation, security becomes paramount in protecting your terminal investment. The dual strength of hardware and software separation protects your merchants' data and permits applications to safely and securely communicate with one another. For example, passing the transaction amount from the payment application to the loyalty application for point calculation should be done seamlessly with no chance for corruption. So look for solutions that offer a state-of-the-art security architecture.
Lesson 3: Get Ready to Make Money!

   Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the multi-app generation is the places it will take you. Hawaii, Italy, Fiji... just think about it. In the multi-app generation, the point-of-sale will be transformed into a new point of profit. ISOs will sell value-added services that enhance the total solution offering, enabling them to attract new business and reduce attrition. And the new revenue streams might just be enough to pay for that dream vacation(or early retirement!) Welcome to the multi-app generation.