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Cartes North America: Day Two in Review from Las Vegas

Today was day two of Cartes North America in Las Vegas. The VDC AutoID team had another full day of meeting vendors, listening to panel discussions and strolling the show floor. EMV migration and NFC again were the dominant themes, as we met with a number of services, hardware and end-to-end solution providers catering to every stratum of the payment value chain. Before we catch the redeye home to Boston, we wanted to share some of the most interesting offerings we saw during the day:

  • Payment terminal leader Verifone demonstrated its entire portfolio of payment solutions, which encompasses a spectrum of products ranging from traditional stationary payment terminals to compact mobile payment sleds that enable payment processing via consumer devices like the iPhone, iPod Touch and Android smartphones. These mobile offerings, which are called Payware Mobile and Payware Mobile Enterprise, are the result of Verifone’s recent acquisition of Global Bay, a payment application provider. We were impressed by both Payware solutions and believe Verifone could expand its addressable market further by bringing this product directly to customers, as companies such as Square have done already.
  • NXP, in its usual fashion, demonstrated its NFC ICs by showing off all the great applications their partner companies have created using their chips. Our favorite application featured at the booth was a NFC-enabled mini kiosk that allows university students to order and pay for their food remotely prior to arriving at the dining hall. We’ve been talking about the significant opportunity NFC has to improve service and throughput in QSRs (quick serve restaurants) and think this solution could be adapted easily for such applications. Imagine being able to order and pay for your morning coffee via a single tap of your smartphone—service speed and throughput could be increased dramatically, which translates into a stronger bottom line for the operator and better service for the customer. Sounds like a “win-win” to us…
  • The US is a laggard when it comes to EMV migration, but if the activity Oberthur has been seeing in its EMV card business is any indication, momentum is starting to build in the US market. Oberthur has partnerships with a number of card-issuing financial institutions within the US, and during 2011, shipped approximately 2.5 million EMV-enabled cards to these organizations. While 2.5 million cards is a proverbial drop in the bucket in the context of the global EMV card market, we think this data point is an encouraging sign that some US financial institutions are beginning to take a proactive stance on EMV migration. Now it’s time to get to work on the merchant side of the equation…
  • For Mastercard, 2010 and 2011 were dedicated to getting its NFC initiative, PayPass, up and running—in other words, establishing actual commercial deployments at major Tier 1 merchants. For 2012, the company is focused on scaling its existing deployments and spreading adoption of its PayPass solution to smaller regional and independent merchants. Mastercard, like Visa, has issued merchant guidelines that detail its expectations in regards to compliance with EMV migration initiatives. The company believes that as these deadlines loom increasingly closer, merchants that have been unwilling to migrate proactively will be likely to upgrade their infrastructure to EMV/NFC all at once in an effort to “future proof” their investments.

That concludes our visit to the inaugural Cartes North America show. It has been an interesting, informative and well-attended event. Hopefully we will be back for the 2013 edition.

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