Interview • 07.01.2011

Smartphones offer real benefits for consumers and businesses

Interview with Peter Antl, Country Manager Germany, SIX Pay

Peter Antl expects a break-through of cashless payments thanks to contactless...
Peter Antl expects a break-through of cashless payments thanks to contactless payments. Photo by SIX Pay

Interview with Peter Antl, Country Manager Germany, SIX Pay

The SIX Group combines infrastructure performance of the Swiss financial center for International payment transactions. Since July 2009 SIX Pay is the marketing organization for credit- and debit card processing outside of Switzerland, being active in 29 countries. Peter Antl is in charge of Germany. He expects great benefits from the new smartphones and paying via cell phone. They offer “real benefits for consumers and also for businesses. “


What significance does business have?

In our internationalization strategy, business as a supporting pillar is the focal point of our activities. We still see a large potential for credit card acceptance –especially in Germany. At the same time, business needs depict an important contribution to the further development of more innovative solutions. In retrospect this ranges from the introduction of an internationally usable POS solution all the way to the expansion of card products that we process. In cooperation with businesses, in Switzerland we continuously test new services, like for instance Mobile Couponing by using POS terminals. This brings about more frequent visits to the showroom and thus also more revenue. Consumers receive their coupon directly to their cell phone: This fits in with modern society, protects the environment and saves printing costs. And the retailer has the chance to immediately react to current conditions, because he can initiate his campaign without long lead times. Mobile Couponing is thus an ideal tool for customer retention.


How will the payment market develop in Europe? Do you anticipate a consolidation of service providers?

The consolidation of service providers is already in full swing. We assume that we will be among the Top 5 in Europe over the next few years and expand our range of services with services that will generate attractive additional benefits for retailers.


The willingness of customers in Germany to pay by credit card is much lower than in many other countries. Why is that and what are you doing to boost this rate?

We Germans are still quite conservative when it comes to our payment behavior. Behaviors only change rather slowly and require additional efforts by the card issuing companies to make the advantages of paying by credit card more transparent to the customer. In “Generation Golf“ and younger age groups however, we see an openness toward the use of credit cards and also the exposure to new, innovative instruments of payment.

Our job is primarily to provide an infrastructure in retail, where customers like to use their credit card and can be sure that their data is secure. We want to help retailers to offer their customers a larger range for using their credit card. The customer can choose on site which card he wants to use, at a place where feels welcome to use his cards.


Credit card customers supposedly spend more than others. Can you support this with numbers?

In various research studies done by Visa and MasterCard as our licensers, it was discovered that the amount of items bought by paying with credit card is up to 30 percent larger than when paying cash. For me that’s also a sign of consumers adjusting their shopping to their current financial situation.


How can retailers lower transaction costs of credit card payments?

Transaction costs for the most part are influenced by internal activities at the retailer. We see room for improvement in the immediate data reconciliation of our credit entry and sales slips, and also with the integration of payment sequences between cash register, terminal and card. The Deutsche Bundesbank (The German Central Bank) will change its fee structure for supply and disposal of cash in 2011. That’s why retailers should also compare these costs to those of credit card payments. Credit card payments usually turn immediately into usable money on accounts, which retailers can work with instantly.


What kind of solution is suited specifically for smaller retailers?

We believe smaller retailers need a terminal solution that’s tailored to their needs and a strong partner who makes sure everything works smoothly. In addition, smaller retailers should choose solutions with simple price structures and fair terms of contract. Not always is the low price you see at first also the best price. We don’t operate a hardware company in Germany, but focus our services on payment processing as an acquirer instead.


What do you expect from contactless payment by credit card?

We expect cashless payments to gain a foothold in other industry sectors. At the same time, processing times at the checkout will accelerate if searching for change, signing a receipt or keying in a PIN is eliminated. According to early polls in focus groups, customers are open-minded about contactless payments. Thanks to the close collaboration with credit card issuers and terminal manufacturers, the safety of this payment solution can be ensured.


Paying by cell phone – this is a trendy subject at the moment. When will this vague trend turn into a solid business? What does business need to invest?

We see two basic movements in payments by cell phone: On the one hand is the cell phone as the medium for the contactless credit- or debit card at the POS. Here retail can also use the infrastructure for contactless payments with the new contactless cards and does not need to make any further investments.

For those types of models that stipulate a registration and then require interaction between cell phone and checkout via text message or other authorization methods as well as maybe another system, I still see the need for development for sustainable business models. Smartphones like the iPhone for instance offer real benefits for the consumer and also for businesses by improving the payment process and by providing convenience. Tests that are supported by retail can show us how we can further adopt this method of payment to the needs of consumers.


Is cell phone money really a safe solution for retailers and their customers?

The safety of money depends on the trust retailers or customer place in the issuer and custodian of money, respectively. With well-established credit cards, retailers and customers can always rely on the banks that stand behind them.


You also process Internet payments. Does this indicate the downfall of brick and mortar businesses?

Business on the Internet will continue to grow. We have registered over the last few months that brick and mortar businesses are increasingly worried and develop initiatives to use the Internet as an additional communication and sales channel.
If anything we see this as an indication that the Internet has come of age and now also has gained new significance among more conservative stores. We are ready for this and together with our partners in Germany offer hybrid solutions for brick and mortar and Internet companies.


What can EuroCIS visitors expect from your trade fair performance in Düsseldorf?

We use the EuroCIS to get in closer contact with retailers and our close distribution partners. We will show current payment solutions for modern POS systems and provide information on how internationally active retailers can reduce the number of service providers. And very importantly: We take the time for people who keep retail alive. We want to understand their needs exactly and are always available for a face-to-face conversation even during the fast-paced trade show.

Interview: René Schellbach, iXtenso.com

Supplier

SIX Group, SIX Card Solutions GmbH (Deutschland)

Bornbarch 9
22848 Norderstedt
Germany

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