The TAS Group Inc. - a global supplier of Europay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV), mobile and prepaid solutions that is a market leader in its home country, Italy, and a major provider throughout Europe - has expanded its operations to the United States, according to Ennio Ponzetto, United States Country Manager for TAS Group.
"Think of it as solving an addiction - the first part of the solution is admitting you have a problem," Ponzetto said. "It's now accepted in the United States that EMV is not going to go away. It's here, and the question becomes how to address it."
Ponzetto feels TAS is uniquely positioned to spearhead the U.S. migration to EMV chip and PIN-based credit and debit cards. The plan is to employ TAS Group EMV platforms that allow U.S. customers to adapt, not replace, existing systems and infrastructure, as well as manage EMV transactions through all channels and devices - physical and virtual - including ATM, POS, web and mobile.
The U.S. payments infrastructure is more siloed than Europe's, so implementing new technology is more challenging. "There are thousands of banks in the U.S., as opposed to hundreds in Europe - with four or five per country," Ponzetto said. "And there are additional challenges to integration where the system is more polarized ... but the advantage we have is the ability to work a layered approach with different entities facing different challenges."
According to Ponzetto, TAS' EMV package covers the issuing, acquiring and authorization parts of the payments chain. It provides EMV chip and PIN card technology, along with the capability to read, approve and properly route EMV transactions. Thus, while different parties must adopt the relevant EMV technology, only one company is selling the pieces, making coordination of adoption and implementation significantly easier.
Ponzetto emphasized that TAS technology is designed to "lie beside" the existing infrastructure. Nothing has to be broken apart, overhauled, reconfigured or swapped out. EMV is implemented with the addition of new software that works in harmony with existing terminals and routing systems. "We adapt to the industry rather than forcing them to adapt to us," said Stewart Chalmers, Managing Partner of Coolhead Group Inc., an EMV consulting firm that has partnered with TAS for marketing and deployment of EMV products in the United States.
TAS' NetAcquirer EMV solution is a transactional switch that combines interfacing and routing capabilities with value-added services. Ponzetto said it "allows easy integration with new products/protocols and compliance and assurance for international and domestic circuits." Value-added components include chip-embedded EMV cards, connectivity with multiple acquiring points, routing to different authorization centers, transaction reporting and multiprotocol conversion.
Ponzetto added that the company's e-Mission EMV platform "allows the issuer (or its processor) to start issuing EMV chip cards without customizing its current card processing system."
Chalmers said TAS, which has over 500 employees and offers 24-hour phone support, has worked with some of the world's biggest banks and processors overseas, and has the expertise, capital and resources to work with large U.S. clients and the dynamism and adaptability to work with small ones in niche markets, as well.
Following successful implementations in Europe, "a lot of the experts are coming from Europe," Chalmers noted. "But a lot of those companies have the expertise but lack the bandwidth. We have both." TAS anticipates EMV working in conjunction with near field communication and mobile-embedded loyalty programs. "It's a three-legged stool: EMV, mobile and loyalty - and with EMV you have the intelligence piece, and you're using an intelligent device," Chalmers said.
TAS Group is seeking value-added resellers. "But not just any reseller - particular ones, on both the acquiring and issuing side, who have EMV expertise," Chalmers said. "We see the migration to EMV as a journey, not just a shrink-wrap entity you plug into the module, and we need people to consult, to do gap analytics and to help with the overall integration."
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Stewart Chalmers, Managing Partner
The Cool head Group Inc.
Country Manager. TAS Group