Recent payments conferences have highlighted some
pressing issues which, when addressed, have the power to transform the world of
card payments acceptance, both across Europe and globally.
How can merchants’ payment acceptance systems
harmonise across borders and deliver the kind of seamless interoperability that
merchants need to expand quickly into new territories? How can they
relieve the systems integration pain experienced when establishing a
relationship with a new acquiring bank? What steps can they take to deliver a
consistent payment experience for customers across different card networks,
payment types and ‘points of interaction’ (POI)? Moreover, what can acquirers
do to streamline the whole acceptance process and better serve the
international ambitions of merchants, today and in the future?
At the root of these issues lies a debate about
standardisation and, more specifically, how card payment acceptance standards
can be consistently interpreted and uniformly implemented across the global
Only through the application of a ‘single version
of the truth’ can the goal of seamless, fast and borderless interoperability in
card payment acceptance be achieved for merchants, acquirers, payment service
providers and other payment stakeholders.
I have good news to share: much of this work has
already been done.
nexo Standards, an open, global association whose
members represent the full spectrum of card payments stakeholders, has already
developed messaging protocols and implementation specifications for card
payment terminals and other points of interaction that adhere to ISO 20022
standards, are universally applicable and freely available, globally.
The road that has led to this point, however, has
not always been easily travelled.
Take ISO 8583, for example. This is a standard that
defines a message format and a communication flow enabling different systems to
exchange transaction requests and responses. It has been used globally since
1987 but, since the standard has been interpreted variously by different
stakeholders, implementations have differed between countries, resulting in a
multitude of systems that, despite being ISO8583 compliant, still can’t talk to
More recently, in a bid to promote greater
interoperability and facilitate easy payments acceptance across borders, the
card payments domain of ISO 20022 (‘twenty-oh-twenty-two’) has defined ‘a
single standardisation approach, including methodology, process and
repository’. Again, however, the ISO 20022 standard relies heavily on the
actors in the ecosystem agreeing on a universal interpretation, together with a
consistent mode of implementation and testing. This has been the goal of nexo
Standards since its inception.
Thanks to the open collaboration between
‘acceptors’ (acquiring banks and merchants), processors, international and
domestic card schemes, payment service providers and vendors, a growing
portfolio of nexo specifications, ‘test specs’ and messaging protocols have
been developed that address the changing needs of the card payment acceptance
ecosystem. These specs are made by the ecosystem, for the ecosystem and promote
simple integration, enable cross border interoperability and facilitate
innovation along the entire acceptance chain, from the payment terminal or
point of interaction all the way to the acquiring bank and back again.
Since the beginning, nexo has focused on technical
development. Today, its portfolio of specifications and messaging protocols that
enable all actors to establish a universally interoperable way of exchanging
payment data is ready, and is being actively deployed globally, today, by both
major retailers and acquiring banks. nexo protocols are already processing
millions of transactions every day.
So, my message to the payments ecosystem is clear:
the key to facilitating innovation in global card payments acceptance, to
enabling fast and borderless interoperability and to resolving integration
headaches between acceptance stakeholders is, simply, to ‘think nexo’. The
association’s work is commercially neutral, contributes to international
standards (ISO 20022) and is already proven through live implementations.
For more information on nexo’s specifications and
protocols, please consult www.nexo-standards.org