At this year's National Retail Federation’s Retail Big Show, Alicia Fiorletta from Retail TouchPoints sat with Merchant Warehouse CEO Henry Helgeson, and EVP, Sales and Marketing, Dan Dufault to review both the state of the payments industry and look ahead at what's in store for retail payments in 2013.
Alicia Fiorletta, Retail TouchPoints
In 2012, the past year, there have been a lot of developments in the payment space. The whole transition to EMV, that seems to be a hot topic right now.
Henry, what is your take on all of these developments that are taking place in payment right now in the retail space?
Henry Helgeson, Merchant Warehouse CEO
For merchants, it's a lot to absorb. They've got EMV. They've got NFC. They've got mobile payments as well as traditional problems around PCI compliance. For them, they've really got to look at their solutions holistically and figure out how to solve for all of this in one shot and not have to go back to their merchant base and re-terminal it every couple of years.
Absolutely. Along with all these developments, why don't you share an overview of the technologies that are complimenting these solutions. Obviously, mobile is a big piece of that puzzle, but what else is happening right now?
Sure. So we've got EMV in the United States, which is happening, whether we want to believe that or not, it's happening, which we believe is a really good thing for merchants. It presents an extra layer of security that is badly needed.
NFC technology is happening as well. A lot of merchants still aren't up with PIN debit and signature capture and some of the basics, as well as mobile payments. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of players entering the market with mobile wallets, and for merchants they've got to figure out how to manage all these and bring them to their countertop.
Absolutely. It seems like new solutions are coming out by the day, trying to be the silver bullet to help all retailers.
Dan, that sort of brings me to Merchant Warehouse's role in the payment space, in the retail world. What are you guys doing to help retailers to navigate all these payment developments?
Dan Dufault, Merchant Warehouse EVP, Sales and Marketing
What we're doing with the Genius platform, that becomes generally available for our merchants at the end of this month, is providing a cloud-based, device-centric solution for the merchant counter that aggregates all of the technologies that Henry was describing, the onset of EMV, NFC, PIN debit, etc. and the requirement to have that in a centralized facility on a merchant's counter, as well as to be able to accept the mobile solutions that you were just describing, all at a single point in a flexible, secure, and scalable way. That's what we're delivering through the Genius platform.
Obviously, through 2013, these trends are going to keep changing, accelerating, evolving. Who knows at this point. It seems like retail is changing at such a rapid pace.
Henry, what do you think is going to be taking place, from a trend standpoint, in the coming year?
There's going to be a lot of trends. It's not just going to be one trend. But I think the overarching theme here is just the change in payments and how to manage that. So, for merchants themselves, I think the trend is going to be a lot of confusion in this year, in 2013, on how to deal with this and how to basically implement all these technologies.
Hopefully, we can solve that for them. It's going to be a year where security is looked at. It's going to be a big year for mobile payments, and all of this is going to change the merchant's countertop significantly.
Absolutely. There are all of these cool tools and applications to really connect consumers to payment, but also loyalty, like Apple's Passbook, is one of the recent examples. I know that Merchant Warehouse has some involvement with Apple.
So, Dan, what's your take on Passbook specifically? And how do you think solutions such as this are going to help shape the mobile retail?
Sure. Passbook just represents one opportunity for merchants to connect to a customer in a more tailored or specific way. What Apple is doing is they're dipping their toe in the water, looking to do QR based couponing and so forth at the point of purchase. I'm sure we'll see that expand in the months ahead. I don't think they're anywhere close to done. But the point is that that's only one application, and, as you said, there are literally hundreds a month coming on to the market.
What we want to be able to do and where we believe the true value is in Merchant Warehouse and what we can deliver through Genius is the flexibility for the merchant to be able to on-the-fly, literally, in a cloud-based environment, select the applications that make sense for their business and deploy them quickly. They're responding to their customers' needs, adding that additional value, and realizing that value themselves.
And, in terms of the future of Merchant Warehouse, what can we expect from you guys in 2013?
I think there's going to be a lot of announcements around the Genius platform, a lot of announcements with partnerships in the POS world. It's going to be a very busy year for us. You're going to see a lot of change and a lot of value being brought to the merchant's countertop.
Excellent. Definitely appreciate you guys taking the time to share your insight and learn a little bit more about where Merchant Warehouse is headed.
Thanks guys, so much, for taking the time out and to everyone out there for listening.
Thank you very much.