Accelerated by the impact of Covid-19, retailers have faced changes to their operating models, dramatic shifts in customer preferences and expectations and greater risks brought about by the increasing shift to digital. In light of these changes, network infrastructure demanded a renewed approach and re-prioritisation for everyone from independent retailers to multinational chain operators.
Not only did Transaction Network Services (TNS) step up to help retailers choose the right technology to face their unique challenges, but as a managed network service provider (MNSP), the company supported the implementation of this technology to deliver customer expectations while meeting business imperatives.
TNS has over 30 years’ experience accepting, connecting and securely processing transactions for businesses across the globe. Most recently it led retailers to adopt software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) – dynamic, private networks that share bandwidth across connection points, centralise control and security, and allow for creative zero-touch environments, all while processing mission-critical network intelligence in the cloud. This new network edge infrastructure helped separate the control plane from the data plane while still incorporating a wide range of traditional functions like routing, next-gen firewalls and application optimisation. The efficiencies gained with managed services solutions on top of SD-WAN networks helped lead the merchant community and their customers through this paradigm shift.
John Tait, global managing drector of the payments market business at TNS is responsible for the company’s payments-focused teams across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.
What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?
TNS excels in helping its customers simplify business operations, control costs and securely and reliably move information around the world. Since 1990, TNS has been a preferred supplier of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions that provide end-to-end support to accept, connect, process and secure payments. The company supports many leading organisations in the global payments and financial communities and manages some of the largest real-time data communication networks in the world. TNS enables industry participants to simply, securely and reliably interact and transact with customers and other businesses, and to access the data and applications they need over managed and secure communications platforms.
How has this changed over the past few years?
The TNS team is made up of dedicated professionals that have been working tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that our customers can continue to trade under a complicated mix of differing local conditions. Among other things, TNS’ robust IaaS platform has enabled merchants to seamlessly respond to the expanding consumer touchpoints portfolio driven by contactless adoption. These touchpoints include traditional POS systems, e-commerce gateways, digital kiosks and ATMs, for example, and are also expanding to areas such as pre-paid parking applications and even ordering milk directly from a refrigerator or new ink directly from your printer. Once a payment is accepted from a touchpoint, the TNS infrastructure then enables a merchant to connect with third parties such as payment processors, banks, PayPal or a loyalty firm, to authorise and process the payment – all through a secure, private network.
In this environment, we have worked to help meet the evolving needs of companies so they can ‘focus on the business of their business’. We offer flexibility and scalability through our highly configurable functionalities and reduce the amount of heavy lifting from IT teams involved in deploying and maintaining an end-to-end payments network through centralised control and automated management functions.
Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?
Over the years, TNS has helped its customers and the communities of interest connected to their networks to evolve from legacy solutions to leading-edge technologies as digital demands have evolved. Today, the company provides a full range of services from dedicated connections to managed IP network solutions, providing local support and global reach to medium and large enterprises and service providers.
What fintech ideas have been implemented?
Our latest fintech innovations are centered on providing end-to-end solutions as a managed network service provider (MNSP), deploying SD-WAN to help retailers reduce the burdens of the omnichannel, cloud-based commerce technology stack. When retailers partner with an MNSP such as TNS, all implementation and management is taken care of by a team of experts, which improves service delivery and quality of services, while taking the onus of network management off an internal IT team completely. This frees up an IT team’s time, allowing them to focus on functions more relevant to the core business. In the modern age, when retail is more focused on customer experience than transactions, this will make a meaningful difference.
What benefits have these brought?
Direct customer-facing benefits of partnering with an MNSP that offers SD-WAN capabilities include optimised reliability and throughput of payments acceptance, increased access to applications that can improve customer experience, and the ability to securely offer value-added services such as in-store guest wi-fi. The MNSP model also supports modern cloud retail apps, zero-touch routers and multiple in-store devices to centralise management and optimise data flow. This enables greater adaptability to changing customer traffic patterns.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
Retailers will continue to re-imagine themselves as ‘destinations’ that demand interactive, immersive shopping experiences with amenities. Guest wi-fi, ‘available online’ offers, and EV charging stations are just some of the enhancements to the value-added customer experience we will witness. Add in the adoption of augmented reality, and customers will be even more engaged with new expectations that will never go back to the way things were even a year ago.
Can these challenges be aided by fintech?
Absolutely. For many retailers, the key will be finding a fintech partner that can help identify, develop and manage a payments infrastructure that best serves your unique customer base. From enhancing payment consumer touchpoints, to optimising network performance with global connectivity, to secure payment processing, having an MNSP at your side will be critical to delivering on customer expectations while meeting business imperatives.
Technologies that can help businesses meet today’s networking demands are readily available. The key to success is in its deployment and implementation. Though change always requires effort and risk, working with an MNSP that offers a portfolio of managed connectivity, data security, and payment orchestration services reduces the burden on a retailer’s staff while optimising network security, uptime and operational resilience. Of course, with the benefits come complexities, and now more than ever retailers would be wise to partner with a Level 1 PCI DSS certified partner to handle their mission-critical payments connectivity.