PCI rules, finer technology points dominate show-floor talk

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

[Editor's Note: This is the first of two trade-show floor reports from NACStech.]

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- Suppliers on the trade-show floor of the 13th annual NACStech conference pointed to compliance with Visa and MasterCard standards, as well as more sophisticated technological advances as key discussion points this year.

With deadlines looming on the payment card industry (PCI) rules backed by the major credit-card companies, suppliers of everything from dispensers to network connections spoke of engineering ways to help retailers meet upcoming mandates.

"We're concerned about [image-nocss] the small guys who may not have the same requirements as the big chains, but the likelihood of a breach still exists," said Bob Johnson, president of The Pinnacle Corp., Arlington, Texas. "If one should occur, the litigation would put them out of business—game over."

Three NACStech workshops covered upcoming PCI mandates, with much of the talk centered on deadlines for personal-identification number (PIN) pads at the dispenser. Suppliers and retailers have separate and distinct compliance deadlines over the next two years.

To help retailers navigate the requirements set forth by San Francisco-based Visa and Purchase, N.Y.-based MasterCard, one supplier, Greensboro, N.C.-based Gilbarco Veeder-Root, launched a Web site devoted to questions surrounding PCI at Retailers visiting the site will find video question-and-answer segments with Gilbarco experts, white papers and blogs explaining different facets of the ongoing requirements.

"Our vision was to give the industry a place to go for information on fraud protection," said Lucy Sackett, marketing and communications manager for Gilbarco. With near-term deadlines approaching that focus on in-pump PIN pads, a majority of suppliers from dispenser, network and point-of-sale (POS) companies have developed compliant solutions.

"Anything that does not touch credit cards is of no interest to [those enforcing] PCI standards," according to Greg Davis, vice president of marketing for MegaPath Inc., Costa Mesa, Calif. "That's why we segment our network and isolate POS systems on a separate, virtual network from the back office."

In addition to PCI compliance, suppliers on the trade-show floor offered solutions to other industry challenges:

Street-pricing strategies. Price volatility on fuel has caused many retailers to look to technology to help in decision making, according to Riley Buchanan of KSS, Florham Park, N.J. "With pain comes action," he said, noting a significant rise in retailer interest in pricing solutions. "Each company is different with regards to volume over margin. Some have foodservice, so they try to increase traffic by cutting [gasoline] margins. Others may not have the space to support additional traffic, so they go for margin. It can even be a site-by-site strategy, with different [tactics] happing within the same company." Lowering the cost of doing business. Companies are approaching the industry with technology solutions that focus on lowering the total cost of ownership, said Rob Hossary of CipherLab, Plano, Texas. Developing products to support legacy, hand-scanning devices and basing other lines on upcoming technologies helps CipherLab deliver on that low-cost promise. Getting in sync. Programs that allow disparate data warehouses—or even Excel sheets sitting in an individual's computer—to synchronize are gaining momentum, according to Liam Cavanagh, senior program manager, Microsoft Synchronization, Redmond, Wash. Retail biometrics survives. Despite the failure of San Francisco-based Pay By Touch earlier this year, the use of biometric technology—at least in the form of check cashing—continues in the retail environment. Jon Dorsey, president and CEO of bioPay, Herndon, Va., said he purchased the check-cashing capability of the former Pay By Touch company. "Pay By Touch's failure was financial," he said. "It had nothing to do with biometric technology at the store." "In this economy, retailers are embracing IT," said Greg Gilkerson, president of PDI, Temple, Texas. "They're looking at technology to leverage data, be more efficient and for economies of scale."

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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