News From the Floor of the NRF BIG Show

by George Peabody 0

The 100th anniversary of the Retail BIG Show, theNational Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual conference,is a happy one, at least when compared to the last two years ofretailer sadness. Crowded aisles and lots of activity thisyear.

Thematically, the triple currents of payments security, mobileretailing, and social media are dominating the paymentsdiscussions.

Security domain, encryption, and tokenization arebeing pitched by almost every entity in the transaction flow, fromterminal hardware manufacturers to processors, acquirers, andgateway operators. Tokenization, largely because of its allsoftware nature, is the predominant method but because of itssuperior scope and reduction, encryptionis never out of the discussion. Indeed, the conversation is nowtokenization and encryption combinedrather than the either/or proposition taken a yearago.

Encryption’s scope reduction power is illustrated by HeartlandPayment Systems’ press release for PA-DSS and PCI – http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110110005120/en/Heartland-Payment-Systems%E2%80%99-E3-End-to-End-Encryption-MSR.VeriFone, First Data / RSA, and Ingenico are all showing off theirsolutions and their partnerships.

Mobile is everywhere. As a retailing show, the mobile offeringsgo way past payments, leaning on 2D barcoding for mobilemerchandising, couponing, and payments. Mobilemerchant solutions are also on offer, such as Intuit’sGoPayments and newcomer I Love Velvet, an Apple-based provider ofintegrated POS and payment terminal solutions. The company isshowing an EMV-ready payment sled for the iPhone. It uses a rubbersleeve to adapt the device to various iPhone models. Mobilestart-ups are in abundance. And everyone is wondering what theimpact of NFC will be on payments and who will control access tothose devices.

Of course, social media isn’t far away either. Payvment, thefree merchant shopping cart for Facebook, touted its tens ofthousands of merchants and its shared shopping cartcapability.Unlike typical E-commerce, Payvment’sshopping cart runs with the Facebook user, not with the merchant.That means the shopping cart can hold items from multiplemerchants. Payvment is scaling up in the cloud, running on AWS,Amazon Web Services, and looking forward to experimenting withsocial shopping. For the time being, Payvment’s single paymentmethod is PayPal which gives the company instant internationalsupport as well as a big user base.

More to come from Tuesday’s session.