Listen to George and Jacques Soussana, General Secretary, of nexo Standards, an organization based in Europe with global goals to establish interoperability of hardware, software, and data across the point of sale and e-commerce domains.
Interoperability in a Complex Ecosystem
The payments industry is in a period of especially swift change. New methods of payment, new payment systems, new ways to initiate a purchase.
Innovation can be wonderful, improving convenience, speed, and reliability. But there is a downsides to all of this creativity: Interoperability. Connecting disparate systems is technically challenging and faces business questions such as “what’s the ROI on connecting to yet another system?”
Today interoperability may be difficult or impossible by design. Payment methods stood up by individual companies often remain closed or must rely on other payment systems to actually move transactions.
In what is an increasingly integrated world with payments as an embedded experience, interoperability challenges show up both at the physical point of sale and online. Acquirers often use proprietary adaptations of standard protocols to “enhance” their capabilities and, to a degree, erect competitive barriers. The software used to connect point of sale terminals processed by one vendor must be changed when those same POS devices are connected to another provider.
Further complicating the merchant challenge is the merchant-facing software that connects to those terminals. That software connects to each brand of payment terminal in a proprietary fashion. While gateway providers simplify the payment interface for these independent software vendors (ISVs), each gateway provider has its own approach.
For merchants, then, there’s no such thing as “plug and play” software to connect to terminals or to connect those terminals to payment networks.
This complexity was bad enough when card rails were the only payment method of consequence. Today, however, domestic and regional payment methods are changing, adding account-to-account push payment systems like the U.S Real Time Payment Network from The Clearing House or the European SEPA Instant Credit system.
In other words, there are new payment rails, the systems that actually move money, that matter.
So, this complexity problem must overcome and that is the goal of nexo Standards, the organization Jacques represents and the topic of today’s Payments on Fire® discussion.
Getting stakeholders to work on the common goal of interoperability is no easy task. Most often, participants come from competitive companies. Most of these organizations are large because, first, they have to be large to afford the investment in participation, and, second, they have to be large to realize the financial benefits of actual implementation.
This is known as the “Herding Cats Problem” and they aren’t kitty cats.
nexo Standards, and its prior incarnations, has been working on point of sale standards for over a decade. The nexo FAST standard that addresses the physical point of sale, EMV, and how to connect within the SEPA framework is nearly 1,000 pages long. And there are multiple nexo specifications including the Retailer protocol that describes the interfaces between a card payment application and a retail point of sale system
Other nexo standards address security, terminal management, the acquirer connection, and implementation.
So, a complex technical and business environment with nexo Standards bringing a comprehensive set of specifications to address it.
nexo Standards Annual Conference (attendance is free, in London)