The DroidDevCast

Omnichannel and Contactless Payment Solutions with WorldNet Payments

Episode Summary

On this episode of The DroidDevCast podcast, Esper Platform Evangelist Rin Oliver spoke with Conn Byrne, Senior Vice President of Sales, North America and Europe at Worldnet Payments. Throughout the conversation, they touched on WorldNet’s history in the payment industry, the evolution of contactless payment solutions, and what solutions businesses can put in place to ensure that their own kiosk and retail offerings are leveraging the full capabilities and security of contactless payment solutions.

Episode Notes

On this episode of The DroidDevCast podcast, Esper Platform Evangelist Rin Oliver spoke with Conn Byrne, Senior Vice President of Sales, North America and Europe at Worldnet Payments. Throughout the conversation, they touched on WorldNet’s history in the payment industry, the evolution of contactless payment solutions, and what solutions businesses can put in place to ensure that their own kiosk and retail offerings are leveraging the full capabilities and security of contactless payment solutions.

Episode Transcription

Rin Oliver (00:07):

Welcome to The DroidDevCast, a podcast brought to you by the Team Esper, bringing you the latest news, thoughtful discussion and insights into all things Android DevOps, and open source software development. I'm your host, Rin Oliver, Platform Evangelist at Esper. Today, I'm joined by Conn Byrne, Senior Vice President of Sales for North America and Europe for WorldNet Payments. Conn, thank you so much for joining me today.


Conn Byrne (00:26):

Rin, it's great to be here, and thanks a million for inviting me along.


Rin Oliver (00:29):

You're very welcome. So, we're here this week to discuss Android mobile payments, the evolution of contactless payments, payment device certifications and, of course, to talk a little bit more about Esper and WorldNet's partnership, so let's dive right into it. Can you tell me a little bit about WorldNet and the idea of omnichannel payments?


Conn Byrne (00:45):

Yeah, absolutely. So, WorldNet is primarily a payment gateway, so our focus is on the technical aspects of the payment industry. We've been around for quite a while at this stage, so we started back in 2007. At that point, we were primarily an e-commerce or cardholder not present focused gateway. Really, what that means is, we were in the e-commerce space. We were looking at things like back-office tokenization, recurring payments, all of the stuff where the person making the transaction isn't actually at your retailer, your business location when the payment comes through.


Conn Byrne (01:19):

So, that was where we started for the first four or five years, and we then kind of identified that we saw that there was a shift, particularly in the U.S. market where cardholders or retail merchants were being forced to switch from the old swipe method across the EMV. So, once that mandate came in, it presented an opportunity for WorldNet to take some of the experience that we had and developed in European markets around cardholder not present. We had also done some development in Europe around chip and PIN and face-to-face payments, so we took that learning and we did a bunch of development and certification for EMV and contactless devices in the U.S. market.


Conn Byrne (02:03):

That basically left us in the position, a pretty unique position, where ahead of this and U.S. EMV mandate coming in, we had a range of certifications and we had the whole cardholder not present and experience and solution developed, and it meant we had this, like I said, this unique offering where, and that's what we call true omnichannel, where our clients and whether that's an actual end user or potentially a partner or, in this case what we're talking about, independent software vendors or ISVs. Those clients, by having one relationship with WorldNet, having one relationship with our gateway, they get access to all of our payment options, again, whether that's card present or cardholder not present.


Conn Byrne (02:49):

So, that flow and that evolution of the company, if you want to call it that, has left us in a really strong position, both in the European market which is, I would say our home market, and then here in the U.S. where we've seen huge expansion and growth over the last five or six years. Again, when we talk about omnichannel, it's certainly a word that people are probably becoming more and more familiar with and it's something that's becoming more important.


Conn Byrne (03:16):

So, it's no longer, especially in these kind of pandemic days, it's no longer possible to just have a brick-and-mortar store, and a lot of people are moving to e-commerce. If you look at the restaurant trade over the last seven or eight months, they had to make a really quick change from being purely, in a lot of cases, from being purely brick-and-mortar based. They went online. They set up in-app payments. They started doing curbside pickup, all of that kind of thing.


Conn Byrne (03:43):

As those companies or merchants moved into those different spaces, that's where the benefit of an omnichannel payment solution comes in. So, rather than having one provider for e-commerce and one provider for your curbside pickup, one provider for in-store, you work with somebody like a WorldNet, an omnichannel gateway, and we provide all of that to you in one source. That's really, for us, what we see omnichannel as being and, as I said, there's been massive growth in that over the last few years, but then that's been particularly accelerated with COVID over the last number of months.


Rin Oliver (04:15):

Absolutely. So, contactless payments, how did those fit into the omnichannel ecosystem?


Conn Byrne (04:20):

So, contactless payments are really interesting, and I think when we speak about contactless, there's probably two main options or two main strands of it. The first piece is contactless enabled credit or debit cards, which I think people in the U.S. market have now started to become more familiar with. I know this year, a lot of U.S. cardholders will have actually received new cards from their banks, and those cards will have that contactless logo on them, which means they can start to use it for top payments, so that's one element.


Conn Byrne (04:47):

So, that's one aspect of all this, and that means when you go into a store, you see the terminal, rather than having to insert your card or swipe your card, you just tap it. You hold it on the machine for a couple of seconds, put it back in your wallet, and that's the payment done. Contactless payments have been around for quite a while and, although they are new, or relatively new here in the U.S., they have been around a long time.


Conn Byrne (05:09):

In places in Europe, you'd see acceptance of cards, sorry, contactless payments up around the 50% mark. In places like Australia, it's actually up in the 90s. I know there's reports at the backend of last year that the U.S. was less than 1%, so that just kind of shows how much scope for growth there is there, so that's the first type. That's your actual physical credit or debit card.


Conn Byrne (05:30):

The second option, and this is one that we're seeing as being really popular at the moment, is NFC contactless payments, and that's using a third-party device to actually make that payment. So, rather than taking out your card, you're going to use your smartphone, your smartwatch. You're going to hold that, you're going to tap that on the payment terminal, and that's going to make the payment for you. So, you're actually using your phone. You're using a device that you're always going to have with you to make that payment. You can leave your card at home. You don't need to have that anymore.


Conn Byrne (05:59):

I think for the U.S. market, in particular, because again, they have that lower contactless acceptance that I mentioned earlier, at the moment, everybody or pretty much everybody in the U.S. is going to have a smartphone of some source, and a lot of people are going to have smartwatches and all the rest. So, the fact that NFC payments is now becoming a lot more accepted, I would expect to see that actually grow pretty quickly over the coming years, so people may actually skip straight past the actual physical card and decide to go straight to their smartphone or smartwatch instead.


Conn Byrne (06:32):

In terms of where contactless fits in, to be honest, it fits in everywhere. Again, COVID and the whole pandemic has probably accelerated and then kind of changed that, and that's where contactless fits in. So, again, I used the example earlier of a retail store so, if you went to your grocery store, you're going to be using contactless to tap the terminal and make your payment. If you're in the airport at this age, and if people even go to the airport anymore, I'm not so sure, but whenever people go back to the airport, as you walk through it, you're going to see lots of different kiosks in there, so it could be kiosks selling electrical goods. I've seen them selling cosmetics.


Conn Byrne (07:09):

I've seen them selling, obviously, drinks and crisps, so in those kind of solutions, they're going to have contactless there, as well. So, really, there can be so many different methods or ways to actually make a contactless payment. Like I said, when you're talking about an actual physical card, you're talking about using your phone, there's things like QR codes, which I'll probably go into more detail later on. There's just so many different ways to actually make a payment now without ever having to actually take out your physical card to touch a terminal and, in some cases, even have an interaction with an actual human at the other side of it.


Rin Oliver (07:42):

Absolutely. I actually... I'm very intrigued by both of these. I spent the last four years living in New Zealand, and I can confirm that their touchless payment solutions are prevalent there. Everywhere you go, you just hold your card and you can just pay for something. It's all over New Zealand, and they just don't have that here in the states yet. In Shanghai, when I was visiting there, you just scanned a QR card and you paid for your goods. That was all you did.


Conn Byrne (08:07):

Exactly. QR codes is a funny one. I think I'll probably discuss it later, but QR codes is one where our CEO mentioned this during the week that, if somebody said to him, "We need to develop a QR code solution a year ago," you'd look at them and go, "Why? Who's going to need QR code?"


Conn Byrne (08:23):

You put a pandemic in, people are obviously wary about keeping their distance and limiting contact and everything like that and, all of a sudden, a QR code is now just this really vital piece of technology when it comes to payments and so much other stuff so, yes, it's a really interesting kind of flip. It's been a long time since I've scanned a QR code and then, in the last six months, I've probably scanned them more than ever at restaurants and things like that. So, yeah, it's kind of cool.


Rin Oliver (08:49):

Absolutely. I think so, too. Speaking of COVID-19, how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected that payment ecosystem, and how has contactless payment adoption changed since the beginning of 2021, 2020 rather, wrong year.


Conn Byrne (09:04):

Yeah, well, we're nearly 2021. We're almost there. Honestly, I would say it has really just accelerated the move towards contactless. So, the U.S. market was already moving towards contactless, plus people like the banks and card issuers, they were kind of slow to issue cards because there wasn't a huge demand so, if somebody had a debit card or a credit card and it didn't have a contactless chip, they weren't really in a rush to issue a new one because the customer didn't want one. With COVID, that has changed, so people now perceive credit card terminals as being kind of potentially a touchpoint that they don't want to use or it's one touchpoint they may be able to limit, and contactless cards are great for that.


Conn Byrne (09:46):

Like you said, you kind of tap it or almost hover over it in some cases, and that's going to take a payment. So, yeah, I would certainly see COVID has accelerated the acceptance, or the adoption, of contactless payments. I certainly see that as being a good thing, and that's probably a great thing. The thing I found with contactless, if you go back to the Irish market where it would be our home market, contactless payments will be in there for a good while at this stage maybe, probably six, seven years.


Conn Byrne (10:14):

At the start, it was kind of small. People used it for like 10, 15 Euro transactions, but as people then got more used to it, they were kind of going, "I'd actually want to pay for stuff that's more valuable," and the limit thing increased to 30 and it changed up to 50. So, as people start using it, that convenience of just being able to tap it and walk away rather than leave your card inserted or swipe it and wait for a signature or whatever else it may be, the convenience of that is brilliant, so I certainly see it as a good thing.


Conn Byrne (10:44):

One of the other areas that I suppose we have seen acceleration or growth in certain payment methods due to COVID are kind of accelerated, thanks to COVID, would be in the unattended retail space or smart retail kiosks. Again, I mentioned airports earlier. I think when we go back to airports next time, you're probably going to see there may have been one or two kiosks there last time, but when you go through it this time, the lobbies and hallways are going to be filled with kiosks because everyone is just seeing this as being a great way to get your product in front of people everywhere.


Conn Byrne (11:16):

So, a kiosk can be, like I said, it's in an airport. It could be in a college campus. It can be in supermarkets. It can be wherever, and it can have lots of different kiosks. A kiosk sits there. It has its product in it, and people go up and interact and you don't have to have staff looking out for it. You don't have to have security looking out for it, all of that kind of thing.


Conn Byrne (11:35):

So, unattended kiosks, although they were growing pretty rapidly beforehand, the fact that it's now taking away a touchpoint, as in that point where you have to actually go face to face with the person on the other side of the counter or the till or whatever it may be. It's actually removing that. A lot of people seem to be flocking towards it, so unattended kiosks and, again, a huge, huge area of growth, and they're popping up in all sorts of areas, so things like, obviously, car washes, parking machines.


Conn Byrne (12:02):

If you look at the likes of Amazon Go and their actual smart retail stores where there's not even many people in there, so yeah, they've become really popular. The other thing, again, I mentioned this earlier, the kind of surprise package from COVID is the QR code which, as I said, is making a comeback, and the QR code is great because it can be used pretty much for everything. So, what we see is things like restaurants maybe. You scan your... There's going to be QR code on the table and you maybe scan that to look at a menu. We have some customers at the moment who are looking at solutions around there.


Conn Byrne (12:35):

Otherwise, you might see, again, actually a couple of QR code kiosks where you can control the kiosk based on the QR code so, when you walk to a kiosk, you scan a QR code and you can actually control that kiosk with your phone rather than even having to touch the kiosk. Again, we've got partners who are doing that, so the QR code has really come back, and the flexibility it gives in terms of you can generate a QR code for everything.


Conn Byrne (13:00):

It's been a real success, I think, of COVID. I feel like that's probably something that, obviously, once COVID is gone and people are more comfortable, I think it probably will hang around longer than just through the pandemic, so really interesting to see how these things go once things start to return to some kind of normality.


Rin Oliver (13:17):

I agree completely. What's your advice to those solution builders who are thinking about contactless payment offerings? What would you tell them to focus on?


Conn Byrne (13:25):

So, I think the first thing I would tell them to focus on is probably flexibility, and that probably sounds like a strange answer, but maybe I can explain it more. So, as these solution providers are kind of scrambling to try and find, "Okay, well, actually, what do I do here to kind of combat COVID and help my customers and generate more business?" As they're doing that, there's kind of potential for them to fall into the trap of just picking the first solution that they see. They go, "Okay. I want contactless. This provider provides contactless. I'm going to go with them."


Conn Byrne (13:56):

So, what I would say is, when they're actually trying to evaluate the solution, kind of take a step back and look at the provider that's going to offer you the most flexibility in terms of, not just contactless, but do they have an omnichannel and gateway? Kind of use contactless, as I said earlier, in a grocery store kind of environment, do they have a kiosk solution, do they have a QR code solution, can they do e-commerce and all of the rest of the things I've mentioned? So, that would be a really, I think, good takeaway point is just take your time to think about it, look at flexibility. Oops. Sorry. I just dropped my headset. Sorry. I'm back.


Conn Byrne (14:40):

Yeah, so just look at flexibility, what solution is going to work for you and your customers right now, and then what solution is actually going to allow you to grow and expand your payment methods past just contactless. Maybe it's a case that you pick a partner that actually allows you to consolidate instead of having, like I said earlier, five, six different solutions, you pull it all together, you get one streamline service. It gives you your contactless, as well as the other omnichannel solutions I mentioned.


Conn Byrne (15:05):

I think one of the other things and, again, we're seeing a lot of our clients do this. With COVID, it's really important to look at all of those human-to-human touchpoints that we've mentioned and see is there ways that we can actually, are there clever ways that we can actually reduce those touchpoints or eliminate them and replace them with some kind of contactless solution instead?


Conn Byrne (15:26):

Again, when I say contactless, I mean contactless in terms of actual contactless payments and then contactless in terms of you don't have to talk to people or touch people or kind of touch payment terminals that other people have touched, and that's probably their kiosks and QR codes. I think that's probably it, just try and give yourself flexibility and build a solution that's going to do more than just contactless.


Rin Oliver (15:48):

That makes a lot of sense. So, moving to a totally different thing, let's hear a little bit more about WorldNet. Can you tell me a little bit more about WorldNet certification process and any contactless payment solutions that you've certified?


Conn Byrne (16:03):

Yeah, absolutely. This is really, I think, our certifications and the way we manage certifications and how we've done certifications to date, that's actually probably our biggest selling point, and that's the reason why we've found so much success with ISVs recently. If you look at the payments environment, there's certain things that you have to do to be allowed to take payments, take payments in, I supposed, a certified manner or in an approved matter.


Conn Byrne (16:33):

One of those things is, any piece of payment hardware that you look at so, again, if you look at a payment terminal sitting in your grocery store, to use that payment terminal, you have to integrate that terminal and then you have to get that terminal certified with your gateway in this case. Once that certification is complete, you can then use that or you can offer it to your customers to use.


Conn Byrne (16:54):

That certification process has historically been a huge stumbling block. It was not so much of an issue when people were just swiping but, once you bring EMV and contactless payments into it, that kind of takes it to a whole new level, so it's much more complex certification and, some cases, it could take six months. In some cases, it could take nine months, so it's a time consuming and not very costs effective process to do. So, what WorldNet did, again, if you go back to 2013, 2014 when we knew that this push to EMV was going to be coming into the U.S. market, we actually went ahead and we did a lot of new EMV contactless certifications at that point.


Conn Byrne (17:36):

I think the unique thing that we did, we didn't only certify payment terminals or payment hardware. We actually bundled that hardware with our software, SDK, and made this package and certified that whole package. What that means is, any software solution or software provider, if they want to upgrade and, obviously, we mentioned contactless, if they want to add contactless to their solution, all they need to do is just integrate our SDK and then they get to use our gateway and are covered by all of our certifications.


Conn Byrne (18:05):

So, it's a really unique proposition and, basically, it means if a provider, or a solution provider, wants to get up and running with an EMV or contactless solution, they can do it within a matter of weeks and not months. I know we actually did that with Esper, probably this time last year, so I think it took maybe two weeks or three weeks to actually get a full integration done and have a pilot and a trade show between our two companies, so I think that's a pretty good example of how quick it can be.


Rin Oliver (18:32):

That definitely is. Actually, let's go into a little bit more about that, WorldNet and Esper. Let's touch on that partnership. How are we working together? What are some of the exciting things we're doing? Can you tell us a bit about that?


Conn Byrne (18:42):

Yeah, of course. So, obviously, with Esper, your big focus is on the Android kind of environment, and we are seeing a huge push towards Android, particularly over the last maybe two or three years. So, if you look at our platform, obviously, I mentioned things like e-commerce, we can do all that, and that's obviously not platform-specific, but when you move into our SDK and you look at unattended kiosk payments or if you look at a retail point of sale, so many of those are now built on the Android platform, so Android obviously has huge benefits, a lot of different benefits, and people are really flocking to it.


Conn Byrne (19:18):

So, what we have seen in terms of the partnership between ourselves, there's an overlap in terms of Esper provides all of the management and capacity for Android hardware or fleets in Android hardware. WorldNet provides the payment solutions that actually go onto those fleets of hardware to allow the merchants to accept payments.


Conn Byrne (19:39):

So, it was this unique overlap where we're both actually servicing the same kinds of customers, but just from different sides, and I think where our partnership is really strong is actually trying to find actually where does that overlap and how can we join together or how have we come together to actually service our mutual clients or potential clients in the future in a more streamlined manner by combining our services?


Conn Byrne (20:02):

I think we're probably a couple of years into the relationship at this stage and I think, as every month goes by, we all learn something more about each other and the demand for Android grows. It's certainly a partnership we're really excited about and look forward to seeing where it can take us.


Rin Oliver (20:17):

Absolutely. I agree completely. So, lastly, let's dive into a little bit more about Esper and WorldNet partnership and certifications there. Why should someone choose to work with Esper and WorldNet? What are they getting when they do that?


Conn Byrne (20:34):

I think that's a really good question. I supposed I touched on, or we've touched on, lots of different elements of it so far but, for me, the biggest thing that this partnership, the Esper/WorldNet partnership offers flexibility, and it offers flexibility through one kind of single source. So, if you wanted to develop an Android solution or if you're in the process of developing it or maybe switching to Android, if you come and work with WorldNet and Esper, we obviously both have our expertise in certain areas. From the payment perspective, WorldNet becomes just one single point of contact or one single source that you can work with and integrate with.


Conn Byrne (21:11):

Through that integration then, you get the option to choose multiple different payment hardware providers, so with our certifications, we work with people like Ingenico, ID TECH, PAX, and BBPOS. They've been before the major providers, and they provide hardware to lots of different areas of the market and, again, covering things like mobile payments, unattended and standard, point of sale. So, if you don't go for somebody like WorldNet, as I mentioned earlier, you can end up with multiple providers, so if you want to use an unattended terminal, you might have one solution. If you want to use E-PASS or point of sale, you may have [inaudible 00:21:49].


Conn Byrne (21:49):

Again, by using us, we become kind of the sticking point in the middle that all of these different certifications come off. The other part then, and it's something I probably haven't mentioned just yet, when I say that we're certified, we're certified primarily to the bigger processors, which would be First State [inaudible 00:22:07]. Again, that means you've got flexibility. There's a lot of providers out there that will shoehorn you into their own payment solution and say, "Yeah, you have to come with us." Generally, what that means is, you're going to pay higher rates there.


Conn Byrne (22:19):

In our case, we're going to add flexibility to the mix so, if you say, "Well, actually, I already have a merchant account with First State, and I want to keep using that," okay, we can let you do that. Otherwise, we can say, "Let's look at our partnerships. Is there a reduction of rates that we can offer by switching you?" So, again, we're not trying to push you in a certain direction, but we have different options.


Conn Byrne (22:40):

Really, for me, I think that flexibility, that kind of ease of integration, again, we're talking about a couple of weeks instead of months and lots of money for a certification. That's a massive point, as well. Then again, when you put Esper's and, like I said, Android management solutions on top of that and all the rest of the features, you guys can offer... It really just does give you this bundle solution that takes care of anything that you need, whether that's payments or device related.


Rin Oliver (23:05):

Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of the DroidDevCast. We'll be back next week with another exciting show for you. Please remember to like, subscribe, and share this episode on social media. You can also follow us on Twitter, @Esperdev, and subscribe to our new YouTube channel to keep up with all of what is happening here. You can learn more about Esper and WorldNet's joint payment solutions for Android ISVs by booking a joint 30-minute meeting. We can start a conversation at or You can listen to the DroidDevCast on Apple podcast, Spotify Simplecast wherever you get your podcasts from. Thank you so much for listening.