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Safeguarding Payments Security: ECOMMPAY Insights

Zoya Malik, managing editor, TFT spoke to Paul Marcantonio, Head of UK and Western Europe, ECOMMPAY about the company’s payment solutions growth plans and its strategic work within the travel industry.

Zoya: What is the full remit of ECOMMPAY’s business?

Paul: If we’re talking specifically about ECOMMPAY, we’re an international payment service provider and direct card acquirer. Beyond developing bespoke payment solutions for our portfolio of eCommerce clients, we offer proprietary technologies, customisable products, business consultations, individual client management, and much more.

With over 200 software engineers among our ranks, we tend to think of ourselves as a technology company. This means that we are incredibly flexible in our approach, developing industry-specific solutions in response to client pain points, as well as introducing a host of “enhancements”, which help merchants boost their overall revenues.

We’re also part of The ECOMMPAY Group, which is almost a standalone payments ecosystem of sorts, dealing with everything from company registration to opening an eAccount, to legal advice.

Paul Marcantonio, Head of UK and Western Europe, ECOMMPAY

Zoya: How have different business lines grown over the last 5 years?

Paul: We’ve diversified substantially. Maintaining a strong presence in our core verticals, we’ve applied our knowledge and expertise to explore new directions. For instance, last year we made the strategic decision to dedicate considerable efforts to expanding our capabilities within the travel sector.

ECOMMPAY already had a few travel operator clients, so we combined our experience in helping them achieve higher conversion rates with a comprehensive analysis of operator pain points to build a solution – a technological payment platform – that will streamline transactions, improve user experience, and increase efficiencies.

We launched a prototype at last year’s World Travel Market exhibition in London, alongside a whole host of travel payments technologies, and received incredibly positive initial feedback. We took on board comments from current and prospective clients and headed to ITB Berlin earlier this month to beta-test our newest solution. This resulted in even more great feedback.

Zoya: What challenges are there for ECOMMPAY in acquiring merchant business?

Paul: ECOMMPAY still has some work to do in terms of brand recognition. Though I’m not experiencing much resistance whenever we enter new verticals or approach new businesses, I still get the sense that they’re leaning towards what they know, which means ECOMMPAY has to work that tiny bit harder.

Unfortunately, low brand recognition in a crowded payments space often translates to a price war, essentially becoming a race to the bottom. We try not to engage on this level, because there’s a difference between price and value. Every merchant I’ve ever worked with has had precise aesthetic and functional demands, which requires time, technology, and resources. Many of the cheaper providers end up sacrificing quality by being unable to tailor individual solutions for individual clients.

Every merchant I’ve ever worked with has had precise aesthetic and functional demands, which requires time, technology, and resources.

Zoya: What are the struggles for merchants in moving away from a cash business and investing in fraud and other protection?

Paul: They’re dealing with what is, to them, an unknown. If they have no experience, it’s completely alien – instead of shoppers in their physical store, they’re now dealing with “invisible” people. The biggest struggle is understanding how to provide excellent customer service on this level, which is something we, as a payment service provider, can definitely help with.

It’s not just about fraud, it’s about so much more. In an attempt to emulate a personal experience in the digital realm; merchants need to invest into seeking synergy between conversion and security. After all, your fraud protection could be amazing, but if it’s chasing away all your customers, there isn’t much of a point. Same goes for the opposite – if your risk management is weak, you might end up spending more on paying fines than the profits reaped.

The solution is simple: establish a partnership with a dynamic, experienced partner capable of adapting to your specific style of business and category of customer.

 

Zoya: What are the challenges for all payment ecosystem stakeholders with card fraud?

Paul: Good question. This actually flows rather nicely from the previous one. The biggest challenge is knowing which barriers to put up. If you have an overzealous fraud protection tool, it can kill your conversion rates, i.e. the percentage of customers completing their intended transactions. If it’s too relaxed, on the other hand, you may inadvertently open the floodgates to fraudulent transactions. 

The solution is simple: establish a partnership with a dynamic, experienced partner capable of adapting to your specific style of business and category of customer.

Zoya: What services does ECOMMPAY provide its clients to set up firewalls/protection against online and card fraud?

Paul: To assist clients in safeguarding security, we engineered the proprietary FraudStop risk management system, which features automated risk scoring (an interdependent analysis based on multiple factors) on the basis of machine learning; flexible limits, restrictions, and payment scenarios; notifications of suspicious transactions; as well as offering merchants the ability to independently manage fraud filters and black/white lists.

FraudStop’s automated functionality is complemented by our highly qualified risk analysts, who not only configure system settings to each client’s specifications, but also manually monitor suspicious behaviour and track patterns of fraudulent activity.

Additionally, ECOMMPAY relies on stringent security measures in handling data, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) version 1.2 for the transfer of sensitive data between the customer’s browser and our payment application; tokenisation for the encryption of electronic payment data; a multifactor authentication system to remotely verify sensitive information; and Web Application Firewall (WAF) to secure against DDoS attacks.

Zoya: How much has your company saved clients’ (merchants/banks, etc.) business through ECOMMPAY’s advisory?

Paul: It’s hard to put a value on that, because we don’t charge for our consulting services. At the same time, we have seen visible increases in traffic and payment acceptance rates, as well as helping businesses enter markets previously unknown to them. Though the objective is, naturally, to increase client profits, our solutions are comprised of many components: increasing conversion, building brand loyalty, safeguarding security, expanding into new territories, etc. As a result, it’s hard to quantify exactly how much we’ve saved our clients, but I would like to think that it’s significant.

Zoya: How are you helping clients with risk management and data security?

Paul: In addition to the risk management processes outlined previously, we also work with third party partners to provide comprehensive security coverage. For example, we hold Principal Membership with international payment systems Visa and Mastercard, which both have their own security mechanisms. Our employees also regularly participate in competitions and hackathons, such as Visa Challenge.

Furthermore, holding PCI DSS 3.2 certification ourselves, we regularly assist clients in improving their security standards in order to become PCI DSS compliant. For instance, we provided a technical consultation to the subsidiary projects of Firebird Tours (Rail.Ninja and Russiantraintickets.com) on how to build, maintain, and monitor a secure network, as well as on how to protect cardholder data. Consequently, both sites received PCI DSS certification.

Zoya: What led you into the payments business?

Paul: It was a series of events. I was working within the video gaming industry, and became genuinely interested in the convergence of physical and digital. Witnessing the challenge to the high-street posed by the onslaught of online retailers, made me realise that I wanted to be part of this evolution – this revolution – and so here I am. The rest, as they say, is history.

Zoya: What’s exciting in this industry?

Paul: To me, the most exciting aspect of working in payments is the diversity. Because each client industry has its own nuances, each of us needs to be adaptable, dynamic, and agile in our approach. You can’t take anything for granted, because things are always changing, whether it’s new regulation being introduced or a new technological fad taking the world by storm. In payments, you’re always learning.

The most exciting aspect of working in payments is the diversity.

Zoya: What are going to be new trends for the payments industry and for ECOMMPAY to invest to compete?

Paul: It seems a bit counterintuitive for us to give anything away, because we don’t want to lose our competitive edge, but rest assured that we’ve got our eye on the next five years. This has always been our approach – looking ahead, trying to predict the trends. For proof, please see our incredibly advanced GATE2025 platform, which was released seven years ahead of schedule.

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