Verifone, which is challenged to move beyond its reliance on selling traditional payments hardware, is producing an almost dizzying array of products in hopes of diversifying.
In just the past few days, Verifone has detailed its acquisition of AJB Software, announced a "payments as a service" partnership with Microsoft, completed a beacon deployment at one of its clients and integrated its systems with touchscreen technology developer Elo.
The market conditions demand this brisk pace, according to Jim Surber, regional head of Payment as a Service for North America at Verifone. "Payments are changing as fast as we've ever seen, and we're making sure we can help merchants keep up with that," he said.
The pace of change is fueled by a rush of technology into retail stores, pertaining to security, loyalty, mobile and other needs. The rapid pace fits with Verifone's multi-year strategy to become a technology-focused merchant provider, using EMV and mobile to recover from financial setbacks from several years ago.
"In year one, you talk about doing something. In year two you start to see things happening and in year three things start to take off," Surber said.
Verifone will provide EMV-ready "payments as a service" technology certified for Microsoft for retail and commerce products. That means payment hardware, software and support services will be integrated into a centrally managed system built on Verifone's Secure Commerce Architecture (SCA). SCA connects terminals to Verifone's gateway.
This structure prevents payment data from entering point of sale hardware and allows changes for the purpose of EMV and PCI compliance without repeated recertifications. It also allows point of sale systems to be remotely upgraded to support future mobile wallet and contactless payment technologies, as well as marketing programs.
"Merchants are going to have to deal with this change for a lot of years," Surber said.
For merchant service providers, the "cloud" is the tonic for that change—the idea that remotely hosted technology can deliver new updates on the fly, rather than requiring new tweaks each time a new way to pay emerges.
"'Fill in the blank' as a service is showing up in a lot of different areas, and it makes a lot of sense in the payment and commerce space," said Thad Peterson, a senior analyst at Aite Group, adding it cuts cost and can be quickly upgraded as situations change. "I'm not sure that the degree of change and the challenges of omni-channel delivery in a tokenized ecosystem can be effectively managed with any other solution by a merchant."
Verifone's "as a service" collaboration with Microsoft is one of several moves Verifone has made. At the National Retail Federation Big Show in New York last week, Verifone demoed a beacon pilot from Allrecipes, a social network for user-generated recipes, reviews, grocery tips and photos. Allrecipes is testing beacon-triggered marketing and other content delivered directly to consumers' mobile apps at participating grocery stores.
In a separate collaboration, Elo will add its self-service platform to Verifone's newest payment devices to support loyalty programs, EMV and Near Field Communication.
"Payments really isn't the important piece today," Surber said. "Payments have to stay secure, but what we really want to do is make it easy to create additional value at the point of sale."
The move toward omnichannel shopping also fuels the need for a payments technology gateway that connects directly to the point of sale, said Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst and consultant at Double Diamond Group.
"The gateway adds additional value to the point of sale in terms of encryption and encryption key management, and managing certifications and or recertifications," Oglesby said.