" class="no-js "lang="en-US"> EXCLUSIVE: "Open Door Policy" - Eddie Johnson, Aevi in 'The Paytech Magazine'
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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EXCLUSIVE: “Open Door Policy” – Eddie Johnson, Aevi in ‘The Paytech Magazine’

With consumers increasingly wanting to be unaware their payments are even happening – wherever they choose to make their purchases – using collaborative, intelligent orchestration to enable this is vital, says Aevi’s Eddie Johnson

THE PAYTECH MAGAZINE: Tell us about your role and the work Aevi is doing in payment orchestration.
EDDIE JOHNSON: I’m VP of product, responsible for everything we bring to market and looking to the future. Historically, Aevi specialised in in-person payments and has evolved into an orchestration platform, bringing different types of payments together for our customers, who are companies that service merchants. So, we think about merchants’ needs on behalf of our customers.

TPM: Consumers can now exercise a huge amount of choice in their payments preferences – how has this impacted in-store payments in particular?
EJ: Customers don’t want to have to think about the point of payment, and the merchant doesn’t want them to, either; they want the customer to have an experience. There’s a huge buzz around e-commerce and online payments, but we’re still focussed on in-person because something like 85 per cent of payments are still in person.

And so, at the moment, you’ve got an entire industry vying for that last 10, 15, 20 percent of the payments space. There is nothing quite like that rush you get, as a consumer, when you go to a store, physically pick something up, and then it’s yours. The merchants want to drive that experience even more and, to do that, they need seamless payments – things like hyper-personalisation and being able to drive customer loyalty.

There’s more space and time than there is in e-commerce to drive more things –it’s about walking that line between making the payment process disappear completely, and the consumer and merchant still getting as much benefit as possible out of that experience.

TPM: What role do point-of-sale (POS) terminals play in facilitating this new kind of in-person experience?
EJ: We’ve already started to see a smart revolution in POS terminals. I went to Camp Bestival the other weekend with the kids, and every ice cream truck and churros seller was using a smart terminal.

Every terminal has a big screen, more points of interaction, better ways of usage, but a lot of people are still treating them like a traditional payment terminal. So, how do we get the real value out of them?

First, we need to utilise existing infrastructure. Android terminals give us huge ability to do that – they allow proper flexibility between who does what on the terminal, which vendor, or which piece of software needs to live where, and how they all interact. Which brings me to the second thing that’s needed – orchestration. And that’s where we come in, providing a choice of separate capabilities, from loyalty providers to inventory management solutions, POS sale systems and payments microservices, like tipping. All of those can now live on that one device.

That’s all really good for a merchant, but they’re not technologists and they don’t want to have to think about that or set up the devices. The people selling them those services, though, have the ability to bundle together, to give flexibility and shift terminals from being something merchants need to have, to something that actually benefits them.

So, we work, for example, with independent software vendors (ISVs), which maybe specialise in supplying software for running restaurants or bike shops. Historically, they’ve looked at the POS terminals as a necessary evil: they have to integrate with payment terminals because their customers need to accept payments. But when we start talking to them about smart terminals, about the orchestration we can do, about how much more presence they can have on the terminal, then, all of a sudden, we’re not talking to the one person in that company that deals with payments; we’re talking to their product teams, because they see these devices as an extension of their solutions.

As they become more integrated, the end merchant gets a much better experience using those payment terminals. We’re also enabling our customers to set themselves up for an ever-changing payments future where, instead of keeping kit for five-to-10 years and sweating the asset, they understand that, in two years’ time things might look completely different and so they need a system that allows them to evolve quickly.

TPM: How might such innovation materialise for the consumer walking into a shop and heading to such a next-generation POS to pay for goods?
EJ: Again, table stakes are about ensuring they can pay via whatever means they want, whether PayPal or tapping their phone or watch, and then bringing alternative payment methods – buy now, pay later solutions and online payments, which are still very much e-commerce focussed – in-store as well.

“We’re all about openness in in-person payments. A lot of industry experts will tell you those are diametrically opposed concepts. But that needn’t be the case”

Then it’s about that very fine line between offering a good service, which makes a consumer feel involved with a retailer, and protecting their privacy. Those two things, especially in the in-person world, are forever competing, because to get that personalised experience, shoppers have to hand over some of their information and consumers are increasingly concerned about who they give their information to. So, we’re working on things like using their payment choice as
an identifier.

Not necessarily their personal details, but at least being able to recognise that they’re a regular, loyal shopper and maybe, using the right integration, understanding what they buy and when they buy it. By starting to build up that picture, merchants can say things to their customers like ‘we notice you come in here a lot. Would you like X or Y offer, in exchange for giving us a little bit more personal information?’. It’s a kind of trade-off towards hyper-personalisation.

But to do any of that, merchants need access to the data. Historically, in-person payments have been a locked box.

Merchants don’t even see their transactions until, best case, the end of the day, worst case, the end of the week. Even then, they get no detail about them. Our platform gives access to that data, to the people that can make the most of it, as it happens. We’re all about openness in in-person payments. A lot of industry experts will tell you those are diametrically opposed concepts. But that needn’t be the case. We can absolutely give people the same sorts of experiences they have in online commerce, in the in-person space, to get the best result for merchant and consumer.

TPM: This sounds hugely exciting, but how can merchants keep up?
EJ: There are very few companies in the world that will be able to provide a full one-stop shop anymore. There are a couple of big, end-to-end players that do everything, from the POS device through to their own acquiring, but everyone else will need to play with multiple partners, which is where orchestration becomes really key, because one of the challenges of working with many different partners is how all that data flows and how to make sure someone using route A has the same as experience as someone using route B.

That’s why we say that you don’t need to find one acquirer that accepts every payment type, or one POS terminal that does everything; you need the right components for you, which allow you to build an ecosystem and a platform that ties those things together. That way, when businesses need to add alternative payments, they don’t need to wait for the acquirer to support this. We can go directly to the alternative payment method and integrate and switch those transactions through to the APM (application performance monitoring) system, instead of the traditional acquirer, so the merchant can switch seamlessly from route A to B to C.

We’re all about openness and flexibility, not putting people in walled gardens. We can take a really good guess, but we don’t know exactly where payments are going in the next five years. Everything may go softPOS, using consumers’ own devices, and retailers that already have stock-taking devices payment-enabling them, so that basically every screen is a payment device.

Or it may go the way Amazon wants it to, with no touchpoint at all; consumers walk into the store, we identify them through a barrier and then they don’t need to pay in person, but trigger a payment request via geofencing as they leave the store.

Merchants need to know they can support payments, whichever way they go. And by using orchestration, they absolutely can. We’re agnostic in terms of the companies to use; we just want to enable businesses to deliver a seamless, cross-channel payments experience, by using the best in-person and online solutions, and having those platforms connected and data-sharing properly.

We make sure we give solid integrations, sharing data about which transactions have happened in-store and online, to give a single customer view, through open standards. It just requires competitive collaboration to make sure the independent sales organisation (ISO), ISV, acquirer, merchant – whoever that end-customer is – gets the best possible service for their needs


This article was published in The Paytech Magazine Issue 13, Page 22-23

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