Electronic payment terminals have been around for three decades, yet for most merchants, they have remained remarkably one-dimensional even though, under the covers, they reflect major technology innovations. Merchants generally don’t have the bandwidth or desire to manage an increasingly complex payments environment, hence the traditional simplicity of the devices. Yet, the payment terminal is becoming a hub for delivering security-related updates, software and value-added services directly to merchants.
SOPHISTICATED, FUTURE-READY “COMPUTERS”
Today’s secure payment terminals can be upgraded with new features and functions automatically, making it possible for merchants and service providers to more readily adapt to alternative payments and other leading edge capabilities as their needs and the behavior of consumers change over time.
Just as importantly, these sophisticated computing devices can provide a relatively simple way to manage the growing security complexity that encompasses EMV, as well as PCI, encryption and tokenization, NFC and mobile wallets—not to mention the constantly changing world of mobile devices and operating systems.
The multi-application environments of the secure payment terminal provide a window of opportunity for the development of payment, payment-related and value-added applications geared toward meeting the needs of merchants across all vertical segments.
Like other market segments, the payments industry is being transformed by the introduction of cloud technologies, which can ensure seamless, secure payment acceptance and transaction management across multiple channels.
These solutions make it possible for merchants to enrich and personalize the retail experience, engage consumers and energize sales, without having to worry about security of the payment transaction. Retailers can utilize payment terminals along with counter-based and mobile POS systems to vividly display or demonstrate products, check online inventories and handle transactions without fear of compromise.
LESS COMPLEXITY, MORE SECURITY
A secure payment terminal communicating directly to a processor can eliminate what has become one of the leading targets of cybercrime — integrated POS software systems, namely PC-based electronic cash registers. What is known as secure commerce architecture not only enhances payment security, but also creates an environment that frees software developers from the burdens and expense of the payment certification process, so they too can be more innovative in leveraging various commerce channels.
OPENS THE DOOR TO ADDITIONAL INNOVATION
No terminal vendor can innovate in isolation, however. The pace of innovation in software development is relentless and increasingly influenced by the rapid pace of innovation in the open source software movement.
Providing developers with software toolkits and exposing APIs ensures that the payment terminal can become everything needed to transform ideas into applications – and get them to market faster and more cost-effectively.
A POWERFUL NETWORK ENDPOINT
To compete in today’s market, smaller merchants in particular need better insight into their business performance and the ability to identify, engage and reward their best customers through loyalty and coupon programs. The payment terminal increasingly will be used to fulfill those goals through sophisticated analytics and access to the constantly innovating world of cloud applications.
Merchants are, for the most part, accustomed to viewing the payment terminal primarily as a purpose-built device for accepting card payments, particularly when it comes to consumer engagement. Nonetheless, within those devices, there has been much innovation. In fact, the payment terminal is now a powerful network endpoint that can help merchants attract consumers and aggregate the in-store, mobile and ecommerce channels.
Increasingly these devices are managing high-quality display screens that can interact and communicate with the consumer at the point of interaction, whether that’s in a store, at the gas pump, in the back of a taxi or wherever.
Security, speed and reliability will always be primary requirements, but an emerging generation of payment terminals is the ideal consumer-facing devices to engage with consumer smartphones and deliver targeted digital advertising, loyalty, coupons, special offers and more.
Payment acceptance will always be a fundamental aspect of these terminals, but they are no longer just purpose-built, card acceptance devices. Rather they are a platform for innovation and enabling commerce fitted within a familiar and easy to use form factor.