To expand the reach of its global e-commerce services, Ingenico ePayments is building up a vast network of connections to merchant acquirers, hoping to gain a competitive edge as the demand grows for omnichannel payments.

The online and mobile commerce division of Paris-based Ingenico Group has worked to bring its total merchant-acquirer relationships to more than 1,000 in recent months, said Joe Leija, who was named general manager of Ingenico ePayments for North America on May 11. Previously he was a manager at Sage Payments Services' U.S. operations.

"Our long-term strategic goal is to create an exceptionally broad, open payments platform for the merchants who need a global omnichannel partner, and having a large number of acquirer relationships is central to that," Leija said.

Ingenico ePayments now supports more than 150 different international and local payment card types, processing payments in 170 countries and in 150 currencies.

Ingenico for some time has had many different merchant acquirers in its fold, from its acquisitions over the past few years of the e-commerce payment platforms Ogone and GlobalCollect, according to Leija. But early this year, after unveiling its new omnichannel payments brand, Ingenico ePayments began adding more acquirers, he said.

Ingenico ePayments wants to set itself apart with its heavy-acquirer strategy by encouraging its e-commerce merchant customers to adopt two—and sometimes three—different acquirers for routine transactions instead of just one, which is the more typical approach, Leija explained.

With more than one bank acquirer available to them, global e-commerce merchants can improve sales by having a backup ready in case of a spike in transaction-declines from fraud warnings that aren't due to legitimate fraud, he said.

"Most merchant banks write their own fraud rules for each e-commerce website, and they tend to err on the side of caution, so a lot of good transactions can get declined when fraud alerts suddenly rise," Leija said.

Ingenico ePayments' approach enables e-commerce merchants to keep transactions flowing by switching to a different acquirer while they assess the reasons for any sudden bottlenecks and sales slowdowns, and take appropriate action, he said. "The goal is to give merchants tools to react to isolated problems, instead of holding up all transactions."

In addition to boosting the number of acquirers available to its merchant customers, Ingenico ePayments also recently introduced Connect, a product to streamline the process of setting up Web sales and e-commerce checkout pages, using its  API and software development kits.

"We have a set of tools merchants can use to customize their Web checkout page in less than 15 minutes," Leija said. Ingenico ePayments also offers Elevate, a tool that enables merchants to quickly analyze rates for transaction authorizations, chargebacks and refunds.

A key customer of the new, combined services is music superstar Jay Z's Tidal entertainment-streaming service, which sells 35 million songs and videos in 45 countries on its own platform.

"The Tidal deal is a good example of what e-commerce merchants are looking to do with the omnichannel, by making a connection to sell diverse types of products with many payment types in dozens of countries and channels, without the need to do individual integrations in each region," Leija said.

Enabling payments for global e-commerce is a key thrust for Ingenico ePayments, but the division is also balancing that growth with ongoing demand for payment terminals.

Globally, the payment terminal business is still growing at about 6% annually, Leija said, with strong growth projected in China and in the U.S., where the EMV migration is in full swing.

"We see demand for payments growing simultaneously in e-commerce, and also in stores because of EMV and mobile channel expansion," Leija said. "We believe the best way to grow is through this broad acquirer-partnership model, which is very demanding to maintain, but we think it provides the most flexibility available right now," Leija said.

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