Many businesses adopted digital payment technology practically overnight in response to COVID; how have ISOs and merchants adapted to this change?
Angela: When faced with the change to business that COVID caused, successful ISOs and merchants asked, “where do we go from here and how do we get there?” This mindset opened the door to new technology such as contactless payments and expanded service offerings that complemented mobile/on-the-go sales opportunities, both of which opened the door to a new and improved customer experience that will continue well beyond the pandemic.
Ross: Because First American offers a full suite of products and has been deploying NFC-enabled equipment and web-based solutions for quite some time, the majority of our merchants were in a position to adjust quickly.
We continue to work closely with our ISOs to ensure merchants are set up to capture payments in every possible manner—in-store, mobile/contactless and online—to mitigate any short-term impact from COVID and accelerate long-term growth.
If there is a silver lining to this pandemic, it’s that both merchants and consumers are embracing new technologies and payment methods.
What strategies can ISOs implement to help slow adopters get on the contactless band wagon?
Angela: Speak to the safety aspects—both for employees and consumers—of touchless technology as well as the speed; contactless payments can save as much as five seconds per transaction. ISOs need payment solutions that enable their merchants to serve customers in both physical and digital environments, and contactless payments are the answer. First American, as part of its mission to provide maximum flexibility for businesses of every size and type, currently offers nine contactless device options.
Ross: Education is key. We are working with our ISOs to help merchants recognize the benefits of contactless payments and to explain how easily they can add/activate the capability on new or existing equipment. Consumer demand drives merchant behavior, and consumers want contactless solutions for both the health aspect and the convenience.
First American manages its equipment in-house—we don’t utilize third-party fulfillment—and we are responding quickly and efficiently to ensure our merchants are set up to capture payments in every possible manner.
Any pitfalls from this digital world that you are helping ISOs/merchants navigate/resolve?
Angela: With new payment methods come new opportunities for fraud. First American is committed to protecting our partners and our merchants. Our solutions and gateways are fully compliant with PCI-DSS requirements, we monitor transactions to address or reject any that are risky, and we provide data breach protection, offsetting fines incurred in the event of a supposed or actual security breach.
Ross: There is a lot of pressure on business owners right now to keep their doors open and pay their employees. First American has the technology our partners need to serve their customers in alternative ways; it is our job to educate them about this technology, and to dispel any misconceptions about high cost or complexity of integration that might keep them from adopting it. Change is never easy, but we have the tools our partners need to survive and prepare to once again thrive.
The lines between ISOs and ISVs are blurring; how are ISOs capitalizing on payment integration opportunities?
Angela: More and more merchants are looking for payment solutions that can also simplify business operations, and that’s where software solutions come into play. The convergence of ISOs and ISVs are helping businesses of all types offer card present and card not present solutions to enhance payments with inventory, billing and reporting capabilities. Partners, like First American, who provide integrated solutions are helping ISOs build, monetize and protect their merchant portfolio.
Ross: First American has extensive experience working with both models and we are able to provide a variety of integration options to help any business enhance their payment capabilities. Many of our tools are geared toward integration opportunities, including 1stPay Blaze, a customizable online application tool that allows partners to board multiple merchants in one fell swoop, while controlling pricing strategy and terms for each.
What do you see in your crystal ball for payment technology in 2021?
Angela: I have no doubt that the rapid evolution of payment technology will continue, with contactless and digital payment options at the forefront, and that forward-thinking companies who can adapt quickly will leave others to catch up or fail.
Ross: The “new normal” will be fueled by contactless payments or mobile point of sale technology as merchants and consumers continue to embrace alternative channels like curbside and delivery.