Intrix Blog: What is NFC and Why is it Important?

By Jeffrey Connors
Chairman and CEO

With the recent Apple Pay announcement, allowing iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus users to pay using Near Field Communication (NFC) at participating retailers, the dream of making payments using our smartphones at the corner store may soon be closer to reality than ever before.

So, what is Near Field Communication anyway and how does it work? These are questions that many consumers will have as they hear more and more about the technology – and here are some of the answers.

Blog-NFCNFC technology is simple. It’s a short range, low power wireless link evolved from radio-frequency identification technology that can transfer small amounts of data between two devices held a few centimeters from each other. In order for NFC to work, both devices—say your smartphone and a payment terminal at your local drug store—have to have NFC chips and antennas embedded in them.

One of the primary uses being touted for NFC technology is NFC mobile payments. By tapping your phone on a contactless payment terminal in a shop, train station or restaurant the merchant is able to identify your account and take payment through an app on your phone.

NFC offers a huge potential for marketing. You can, for example, tap your phone against an NFC-equipped movie poster or sticker, as long as the paper is embedded with an NFC chip, and more details about the movie will pop up on your phone’s web browser. Also, your smartphone could simultaneously store loyalty cards, coupons, tickets and boarding passes, so you could use your NFC smartphone to transmit and receive data in those accounts too.

And while consumers can already use a tap-to-pay method with some newer credit cards, it’s even faster and easier to use the Smartphone that’s most likely already in your hand rather than digging around for the wallet that holds the credit card.

Is NFC secure? NFC mobile payment provides greater security than plastic cards. NFC technology has varying layers of security, depending on the use case and the hardware. When you link your NFC smartphone to your credit card, your data is actually stored in a tiny part of the hardware. This could be in the SIM card, but it could be elsewhere in the phone, too. And this data is encrypted. On top of that you often have to punch in a personalized PIN on the phone in order to make a payment. And if your phone is stolen, you can freeze or disable your payment account

While NFC acceptance has been a mixed bag in the US to date, we expect that to change. Prior to the launch of Apple Pay, the adoption of NFC-capable registers was climbing at a slow but steady pace.

Now, we believe that the inclusion of NFC technology in iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is a big step forward for the use of smart devices in commerce. It is important merchants have the POS platform they need for both EMV card payments and secure, NFC-based commerce. This will ensure that they will be able to unlock the potential for exciting new experiences between merchants and consumers.

Bottom line is that for a long time NFC was a promise, but finally it seems it will be a promise kept. Are you ready for NFC?

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Intrix Blog: Whitepaper – EMV and Chip Cards – Key Information For Anyone

By Suzanne Coleman
Chief Technology Officer
December 4, 2014

There has been a lot of discussion in the media about EMV, or chip-card technology.  Generally, the information available to consumers is minimal, and really doesn’t provide much insight into what a chip card is or how this new technology affects them.  For merchants and software developers, much of the information available is too technical or detailed to be useful.

Intrix has developed a paper intended to address these information gaps.  The Intrix paper on EMV explains the terminology (EMV, Chip and Signature, Chip and Pin).  It also explains, in easy to understand language, how the chip card is used in the retail environment, what the consumer will experience, what the merchant will experience, and what application developers need to know.

Excerpts from the paper:

What is EMV? ICC? Chip And Pin? Etc…?

There are many terms being used in relation to the topic, but they all boil down to use of a credit card that has a circuit chip embedded in it.  This chip is called an Integrated Circuit Chip, hence the term “ICC”.  This technology was developed via a joint effort between EuroCard, MasterCard and Visa, hence the term “EMV”.  Cards with this chip will perform some authentication of the person presenting the card before an actual authorization request occurs.  Cardholder authentication may include the use of a PIN, hence the term “Chip And Pin”.  The PIN is not always applicable; sometimes a signature is used, hence the term “Chip And Signature”.  They all boil down to the use of cards with an embedded chip, with that card being inserted into a card reader device.

Key Points For Merchants

There are a number of key factors of which merchants should be aware.

Effective October, 2015, the rules of who accepts the risk for fraudulent retail transactions will change to be the same as the rules for eCommerce and Mail Order Phone Order (MOTO) if the transaction was not initiated using EMV.  Currently, a retail, swiped transaction that is approved by the card issuer will be funded by that issuer if the card is found to be fraudulent.  With the risk shift, that risk moves to the acquiring bank (the merchants bank) unless the merchant used an EMV terminal for the transaction.  Acquirers will pass along the risk ownership to the merchant when the risk shift goes into place, so the merchants will be responsible for those fraudulent charges.

EMV is only relevant to merchants who perform card-present transactions, it does not apply to eCommerce.

Merchants using Point Of Sale systems or other software need to check with their software providers to determine when their systems will be ready to support EMV, and what equipment those software vendors have implemented.

 

Click here to get the Intrix Technology Whitepaper – What is EMV?

Intrix Blog: Money20/20 – The Changing World of Payments

By Jeff Connors, CEO
November 25, 2014

money.20.20
I just recently returned from the 2014 Money20/20 payments conference in Las Vegas. This year’s show, which brings together aspiring innovators to shape what money will look like in the year 2020, had over 7,000 people in attendance.

I want to recap a few key themes so that you can appreciate the evolution of the space and how it will impact you.

 

  1. It has to happen–tokenization. There are coming changes to the way your plastic card will work as the US begins to adopt the EMV cards. The so-called “chip-and-signature” switch will be accompanied by new terminals at merchants, and payment industry experts expect many merchants will opt for NFC-capable terminals when they upgrade.

 

  1. Apple Pay hot topic in mobile payments.One of the hottest topics was the recent launch of Apple Pay and what it means for the industry. The Apple Pay introduction has cut through a lot of the discussion going on over the past few years by inking deals with Visa, MasterCard, large banks, etc. and creating something that’s easy for consumers to use. The big question on everyone’s mind: are you going to pay by waving your phone in front of an NFC terminal at checkout versus using your physical card?

 

  1. Turmoil continues in crypto-currencies. Bitcoin is the best-known name, but there are others. Here money is virtualized, encrypted and exists outside of a central banking systems. Banks, of course, are very interested in what this means. I expect a lot of turmoil about crypto-currencies.

 

  1. Still a thorn in one’s side—electronic payments. Why is it still so hard for me to send you $50 or $100 or whatever from wherever I am? And why is it still so hard for millions of businesses to invoice, pay, and track the flow of money between each other. Solutions exist, but it’s getting everyone on the same page that’s the problem.

 

These are just a few of the many trends. Hopefully this gives you a glimpse into a future that will directly impact all of us.

Intrix Blog: CTO Suzanne Coleman Featured in ISO & Agent Magazine Visionaries Advertorial

By Jeffrey Connors
Chairman and CEO
September 25, 2014

swcolemanTake a look at the September/October 2014 issue of ISO & Agent Magazine which has just come out! Intrix Chief Technology Officer Suzanne Coleman is featured in the Payments Gateway Visionaries and Q &A advertorial series where she discusses her views on the growing importance of payment gateways for all types of commerce—from brick and mortar retail POS systems to ecommerce.

Coleman states how important it is for ISOs to offer gateway services in addition to traditional merchant services to help ward off merchant departure. By offering both services, ISOs can decrease costs for their customers and thus increase stickiness. And providing a single point of contact for merchants and decreasing costs in the process can be a compelling differentiator versus other ISOs.

The article outlines how to choose a gateway, what interfaces to look for, real benefits of Level 3 processing and Hosted Payments Pages, implementation of tokens, value of shopping carts and integration of applications to a gateway.

“Choosing a gateway for your business is important; choosing the right gateway is critical,” Coleman points out. One of the key items to look for is the ease of integrating the gateway to a website or application. “This process can take months with many gateways or processors—but it doesn’t have to. With the Intrix tools set, for example, it can be done in just a few days.”

To check out the full article and Coleman’s thoughts, click on the PDF below.
SepOct2014ISO.pdfpdficon_large

Intrix Blog: CEO Perspective: Apple Pay—an Excellent Step Forward

By Jeffrey Connors
Chairman and CEO
September 15, 2014

Jeff ConnorsAs I’m sure you’ve heard, Apple in its Tuesday product launch came out with a new product called Apple Pay. From my perspective, this is an excellent step forward in furthering the development of mobile payments. And, I believe, the major beneficiaries of this development will ultimately be the consumer and the retailers frequented by them.

Today, there are approximately 300 million mobile devices being used by American consumers who carry more than one billion debit and credit cards. Many consumers would like to use their smartphone to complete the buying experience. And Apple’s adoption of the NFC standard will further that specific objective.

Apple’s use of a tokenized approach (Intrix was one of the early adopters of tokenization) in their latest line of smartphones and adoption of the Visa standards for tokenization and EMV is a major step in the right direction and a further catalyst for continued growth of the mobile marketplace. What’s more, in developing partnerships with the major payment industry players, Apple clearly understands the complexity of the industry and is addressing one unique aspect of the ecosystem—replacing the swipe with a touch and go smartphone approach.  Although immediate restrictions exist as to how fast this approach will be adopted, my view is that, over time, adoption will be significant.

Given the Industry’s current move to a chip and pin EMV POS or terminal environment as utilized in the rest of the world, Apple’s timing is very strong. With NFC being included on future systems being purchased, Merchants will avoid the need for a second costly replacement terminal. I’m proud that Intrix has, and will continue, to support the adoption of NFC and EMV technology and a variety of consumer friendly devices that reduce the amount of marketplace fraud.

What’s most exciting about Apple’s announcement is that for Intrix’ key customer—the Merchant—Apple Pay will help mitigate unnecessary fraud while enhancing the overall customer experience. Apple is a highly innovative company whose actions today will further enhance credit card growth and the continued move away from paper checks. It is the natural next step in the evolution of the payments industry.

Intrix Blog: The Atlantic: “The Spectacular Decline of Checks”…and what it means to Merchants

By Jeffrey Connors
Chairman and CEO
August 5, 2014

Checks once accounted for 86 percent of all non-cash payments, but in recent years they’ve fallen out of favor, says a recent article by Matt Phillips in The Atlantic in which he cited statistics from the Federal Reserve’s Cash Products Office. In 2000, checks were used in more than 40 billion transactions; that number is down to less than 20 billion, according to the Fed’s most recent numbers, which are based on a survey conducted in October 2012.

blog8.5.2014What has replaced checks? According to the article titled, “The Spectacular Decline of Checks,” debit cards and credit cards are by far consumers’ favorite way to make payments. Some 43 percent of the consumers surveyed by the Fed said debit was their preferred method of payment. Another 22 percent preferred using credit cards.

 
 
 
 Image courtesy of phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

And this reminded me: “Has your business made the switch to accepting credit cards? Businesses that refuse to accept debit and credit card payments may be missing out on a significant number of sales every month. The costs of upgrading may seem daunting, but the long term benefits should most definitely be examined before a final decision is made.

Research has found that businesses accepting non-cash purchase payments have seen increased revenue by more than 30% since 2009. Merchants attract and retain more customers when they have payment technologies that accept credit and debit. As a consumer, isn’t it disappointing to want to spend at a store, only to find they only accept cash? Don’t risk losing out on your share of sales.

It is imperative for business owners to consider which payment options they are going to offer and what company they are going to partner with to complete each transaction. But, you should, at the very least, be set up to process credit and debit cards.

Intrix Blog: Wired Magazine: “Why American Express Wants to Kill Credit Cards”

By Jeff Connors
President & CEO
July 8, 2014

ccardsforblog
Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Why American Express Wants to kill Credit Cards”—a recent article by Marcus Wohlsen in the June 5, 2014 issue of Wired Magazine caught our attention. The article goes on to say that a black card or a gold card won’t mean any more than a purple card, because you won’t have a card at all. Even American Express believes the plastic in our wallets eventually will go away.

At a recent event, hosted by Andreessen-Horowitz, on the future of retail, Leslie Berlind at American Express pointed out that there are two things you always have with you: a credit card and a smartphone. The day is coming when we combine them. “What we are hyper-focused on is how we merge those two things,” she says. “Especially as one day the physical card will disappear.”

Well, we don’t fully agree but rather believe that over time it will occur with gradual adoption more likely. It’s hard to give up your wallet right now, but Amex is directionally correct. Women have pocketbooks to carry many things and might do both. Not so with men.

Mobile “wallets” will have to incentivize consumers with added features and benefits in order to gain traction. Consumers want broader functionality than a single purpose “wallet” like the Square model for Starbucks.

Net-net we believe there will be a holistic approach to engaging consumers and their loyalty.

What do you think? Take a look at the piece and give us your thoughts.

Read More:

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Intrix Blog: Observations from the 2014 IFE Show

By Jason Milbrandt
June 30, 2014

It’s been a week since we got back from the International Franchise Expo in NYC. What an exciting show. It’s the franchise industry’s premier event—and this year 450+ franchises were on the floor. Everything from food service to education, travel, beauty, financial services, senior care and more.
We were surpIFEShowrised by the number of “new” franchises. There were familiar brands like Cinnabon and 7-Eleven to newcomers like Original Soupman and Kono Pizza, pioneer of the pizza in a cone.
All of these franchises are looking to grow. We had an opportunity to talk to dozens of them about the importance of having the right payment processing solution to meet their needs today while allowing them to scale in the future.
We’ve worked with franchises since 2000 and have low-cost solutions to meet specific needs. Let us know if we can help you too.
You can read more (and see a video) about the IFE show in this piece by Geoff Weiss, staff writer at Entrepreneur Magazine: http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/234747

 

About Jason
Jason is Business Development Manager for Intrix Technology. He is based in the company’s Westminster, CO office.

Intrix Blog – ETA

TRANSACT℠ 14:   Security and EMV Top the Buzz List

By Jeff Connors

May 8, 2014

At the ETA’s TRAtransact 14 LogoNSACT℠ 14 show in Las Vegas last month the buzz was all about security, EMV, convergence, Integrated POS, collaboration and frictionless commerce. As you can imagine, though, security and EMV topped the list.

Here are some interesting takeaways from the world’s largest payments industry event.

  • U.S. consumer card spend remains sluggish year-to-date.
  • New payment technology remains network friendly (leveraging existing rails) and may play a bigger role in distribution—(i.e. integrated POS and security).
  • Point-of-sale is changing—we are going from unsophisticated to sophisticated and the terminal is going the way of the dinosaur.
  • EMV roll-out in the U.S. will be complicated, and needs to be supplemented by encryption and tokenization.

In the wake of recent breaches, security was a key theme of the entire show. Visa’s CEO noted that they are emphasizing security, including EMV. He noted that card-not-present transactions will require some kind of tokenization.   As for encryption, Visa believes it is still a hurdle for both the industry and the small merchant.

Views on EMV (chip) were mixed, as most assume deadlines will hold, but skepticism remains high on timely commercial roll-outs of chip cards and terminals. Good news is that specs on EMV are moving forward, as most EFT networks have agreed to common standards with Visa/MasterCard, and EMV terminals and peripherals appear abundant. Many, including Visa and VeriFone in their keynote speeches, stressed the importance of supplementing EMV with encryption and tokenization.

Let me know your thoughts.

Jeff

Intrix Blog: OpenSSL Heartbleed bug does not affect Intrix

By Suzanne Coleman, CTO

April 9, 2014

It was announced this week that a major vulnerability has been identified in some versions of OpenSSL, and this vulnerability can result in leaking data over what were thought to be secure connections.  A Security Advisory issued by the OpenSSL Project can be found at: https://www.openssl.org/news/secadv_20140407.txt

I ntrix Technology does not use any of the affected versions of OpenSSL in the Intrix Payment Gateway, or in its entry point software (for example, the Intrix Virtual Terminal, the Intrix Hosted Payment Solution, the Intrix SOAP API).  Intrix TranScend software does not use any of the affected versions of OpenSSL.  Since Intrix does not use the affected versions of OpenSSL, this vulnerability does not affect Intrix customers when using Intrix systems.

Other vendors’ software may contain this vulnerability, and there are unconfirmed reports that some Yahoo passwords have been obtained by exploiting this vulnerability.  So, what should you do?

If you use any system that connects to another system using SSL (secure socket layer), and is used to process or transmit any data that is considered sensitive, you should contact the vendor and ask if they are vulnerable to this bug.  If they are, they should already have a remediation plan that they can provide to you.

Additional information:

OpenSSL is an opensource toolkit commonly used by application makers when needing to provide Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connections. SSL connections are used when 2 computers or systems need to communicate via the internet in a secure manner.  URLs that start with HTTPS (notice the “s”) are secure “SSL encrypted” connections between your browser and the site to which you are connected.  The connections are made secure by encryption, and it is the encryption library that has the bug.  For more information on what OpenSSL is and how SSL works, there are many references available, including this site at DigiCert: https://www.digicert.com/ssl.htm.

A variety of sources are providing information about the HeartBleed.  As always, one should verify the source of the information before taking action based on that information.   One such source of information is http://heartbleed.com/.

Intrix Technology considers security our top priority.  Upon learning of this issue, Intrix immediately verified all products to ensure that Intrix environments and products are secure.