When the latest "As Seen on TV" must-have gadget appears on-screen, consumers may someday be able to make the first of their payments by pressing a few buttons on their remote control.
It may seem far-fetched, but it's a future that Ingenico chairman and CEO Philippe Lazare says is well within reach. By embedding its payments technology into computer chips installed on TVs, Ingenico can allow viewers to securely load payments cards onto the device and access the accounts with a Near Field Communication-enabled remote control or other device. Broadcasts would sync with the devices, allowing consumers to simply enter in a PIN to make a purchase.
"We want to bring payment capability to every circumstance of your life by bringing payments to devices with which you are not doing any payment today," Lazare says.
"Imagine that your tablet is equipped with an NFC reader and it's linked to a payment device and card," Lazare continues. "If there's something you want to buy, you just type on your tablet and it's done, instead of calling and giving your credit card number over the phone."
It'll take that sort of thinking, along with capitalizing on the new opportunities like the upcoming EMV migration in the United States, for the Paris-based point of sale terminal manufacturer and payments software developer to continue its upward trajectory.
Lazare, 56, has served as Ingenico's CEO since 2007, after serving on its board of directors during the prior two years. He was named board chairman in 2010.
In his time at the company, Lazare has overseen significant expansion. At the end of 2007, Ingenico estimated it had 12 million terminals in service worldwide. By the end of 2012, that figure reached more than 20 million deployed terminals.
The company's employee base has grown too, from a global workforce of 1,500 across 27 countries in 2007 to 4,000 employees in 40 countries in 2012. Annual revenue has grown 211% from €568 million (US$876 million) in 2007 to €1.2 billion (US$1.58 billion) in 2012.
Lazare attributes the growth to a keen focus on leveraging the capabilities of Ingenico's global reach while maintaining local relationships in the markets where it operates.
"We're not exporting our products and solutions," he says. "Deployment, field services and everything else related to the consumer relationship is done locally."
That approach is critical to Ingenico's ability to keep pace with competitors—both with rival VeriFone, which it's long competed with, as well as smaller, regional players around the globe.
"It's clear that headquarters can't have a close look at everything happening in the world, but with regional divisions very close to customers' needs, we expect them to stay abreast of local competition," he says. "Being local is being able to understand the local competition in both the equipment space and the online space."
North America accounted for 8% of Ingenico's total 2012 revenue and while Europe remains a stronghold for its products and services, the company has set a goal of doubling its U.S. market share in the next three years.
"The U.S. market is one of the biggest and most innovative in the world," Lazare says. "It's the place to be if you want to be a part of the global payments ecosystem."
The crux of Ingenico's U.S. expansion is tied to the country's migration to the EMV-chip card standard. The initial business opportunity comes from terminal and software sales to merchants ready for the new requirements—like recently inked deals to provide its devices in U.S. and Canadian Walmart stores and at Home Depot.
After those initial sales, Ingenico will also benefit from more frequent software security updates and shorter terminal lifecycles. While the typical terminal replacement lifecycle is six years in the U.S., Lazare says it's three to four years in countries that have adopted EMV.
Likewise, Ingenico seeks to expand its reach by developing technology that provides transaction-level data to help merchants better understand consumer behaviors.
"The idea for Ingenico is to be at the heart of the relationship between banks, retailers and consumers and facilitate the payment transaction regardless of if they're a merchant with retail stores or an online merchant," Lazare says.
To that end, the company acquired controlling interest in mobile payments hardware and software developer Roam Data in 2012, followed by an acquisition of online payments processor Ogone this year. The goal with both acquisitions is to provide merchants and consumers with more options to create a seamless payment experience.
Lazare acknowledges that like many, he didn't anticipate the rise of mobile payment devices like the Square card reader—and he says he's still skeptical that the devices have a long future in the payments industry.
"I'm not sure that mobile payment readers will be a blockbuster in the long term because it would require most small merchants to adopt such solutions, which is uncertain," he says. "My hunch is that it's an intermediary solution, it won't be the end solution."
But whether it's card readers attached to smartphones, new EMV-compliant terminals or payments technology embedded in televisions, Lazare predicts an ongoing need for vendors with a concentrated focus on electronic transactions.
"The need for a dedicated, secure device in order for merchants to be paid is not likely going to change," he says. "The form factor could be different, but the payment device embedded within it will be provided by people like us who understand and have the ability and skills to develop a secure payment solution."