For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to assume the rumours are true, but if they’re not, both the premise and the message to large retail is still largely valid.
Apparently, Target will be replacing their current point of sale / terminals with a Verifone ‘solution’ capable of Point to Point Encryption (P2PE), and I assume, EMV and NFC as well. So it wasn’t bad enough that they lost 40M credit card numbers – the repercussions of which will cost them millions – they are now going to spend even more multi-millions to continue to accept the root cause of their troubles; the credit card.
Yes, the new Payment Entry Devices (PEDs) may encrypt the cardholder data from the swipe onwards, and this MAY take the large portion of the authentication channel out of scope for PCI, but nothing fundamentally has changed. The only significant payment channel is a custom built, exceedingly expensive system that can only accept credit cards. I estimate that $25,500,000 would be required to replace the PEDs alone (1,700 locations X 30 lanes per store X $500 per PED)!
Forget the fact that they will also have to pay for the P2PE service, as well as fundamentally change every business process relating to payments, they will STILL have to pay the card brands astronomical sums in fees! Their 2013 net revenue was ~$73 billion, so let’s say (conservatively), 15% was credit card revenue, and that Target have a preferred interchange rate of 1%, that means in 2013 alone, Target paid the card brands $109.5 MILLION just for the ‘privilege’ of letting the customers use a credit card.
$25.5M + $109.5M = $135M, how many innovations in payments could that fund? Or more to the point; how many alternative methods of payment AUTHENTICATION could that fund which would vastly improve the security of the transactions, and render the card brands’ 60+ year old technology obsolete once and for all?
Now imagine if they got together with Walmart, and Metro, and Aldi, and Costco and the rest of the world’s top 10 retailers, who, using the above maths, pay the card brands a combined $1.7 BILLION in fees, just how much influence do you think they would have?
And that’s really the point; the retailers don’t seem to know just how much power they have. They in fact hold ALL the cards, but not one of them wants to be the first to play them for fear of losing the competitive edge to the others. If they could only put aside their differences for a while, they could, all by themselves, create the necessary momentum to change the way we perform non-cash payment on a global basis.
The card brands won’t do it, it’s 100% of their business, the banks won’t do it, they make their own profits, and no-one else who has a vested interest in the status quo will make any effort to provide alternatives. Can’t say as I blame them, business is business, and it’s not as though the average consumer is clamouring for choice. But the retailers, they have by far the most to gain, and they have by far the most direct influence on how people shop.
Someone has to go first, and Target now have the perfect opportunity to spend their money future-proofing their payment infrastructure, but only if they finally understand that payments are NOT a core function, selling stuff is, and that their customers will adopt ANYTHING that’s cheaper, easier, and safer.
They have an image to fix, but this is not the way to go about it.