Transaction Junction’s newly developed switch provides flexibility and agility to better service customers across a multitude of verticals.

When a customer makes a purchase from a point of sale (PoS) device at a retailer, they seldom consider the business-enablement platform that provides the link between themselves, the retailer and the bank facilitating the transaction. However, this platform is vital to ensuring that such a payment can be processed rapidly and accurately, and that the customer can obtain their product, while the retailer receives its money.

As the providers of omnichannel payments across channels on a single platform, Transaction Junction offers an end-to-end transaction processing solution to retailers which meets all their payment requirements in what is a digitally transforming environment.

To this end, says Lester Sonemann, head of product at Transaction Junction, the company recently built its own in-house switch that is designed to handle the processing of newer payment types, providing the flexibility required in this digital era.

The company’s name for this switch is ‘Imbeko’, which is a Xhosa term that means ‘respect’ – a phrase Transaction Junction feels exudes the qualities of reliability and integrity, and which ties directly to the respect accorded the proper management of vital financial transactions.

“This was no trivial exercise,” he says, suggesting that Transaction Junction vowed it would never build its own switch.  “However, the benefit of this undertaking in a year that has seen Transaction Junction process in excess of two billion transactions has really showcased how our investment in technology has allowed us to break free from the shackles of older, more restrictive technologies.”  Sonemann adds, “Firmly positioning ourselves as a FinTech, driving value to our customers means that time and technology can simply no longer be seen as inhibitors to innovation and our ability to deliver.”

“When you reach the point where your decisions around what you can and cannot do as a business are dictated to you by your technology supplier, you also reach the point where you can no longer define yourself as an innovative service provider,” he says.

By building its own switch, Transaction Junction now has the flexibility to innovate on demand. This is a far more agile approach, Sonemann explains, than having to wait for a third party to undertake the required development and testing.

“It means we are able to add more functionality, fix bugs as they are discovered and not be accountable to any third-party provider. This level of agility has helped us to attract customers across a multitude of verticals,” he says.

“Economically it is beneficial, enabling us to contain costs, as we are not subject to price increases from third parties. This, in turn, benefits our customers, as we are no longer passing on price increases to them.”

Sonemann adds that the new switch gives Transaction Junction the capability to drive transactions from their point of origin rapidly through to the relevant financial institution, enhancing the speed of these transactions and reducing the number that are declined.

“Our switch offers a third component to the transaction process, as it also provides an end-to-end reconciliation service that balances your debits and credits and provides full reporting thereafter.”

“You can describe this switch as the ‘brain’ behind what we do. It is the central point from which multiple channels of engagement operate and it manages the integrity of the transaction, understands what rules must be applied, where the transaction must go to, and even where it may require additional information before fulfilment can take place,” adds Sonemann.

“The modern world is becoming increasingly fluid. Having access to an adaptive and flexible framework that allows us to plug new technologies and approaches into an existing context has positioned us perfectly to bridge the gap between where we have come from and where we are planning to go.”

Architecturally, Imbeko allows Transaction Junction to extend the availability of services seamlessly and without incurring exorbitant licensing or restrictive hosting requirements.

“The fact that we can now do everything ourselves, with no constraints and far greater agility and flexibility, means we are in control of our destiny. This level of control means that our customers can rest assured that their transactions will be processed rapidly, effectively and accurately,” he concludes.

Customers pay for goods or services via the channel of their choice. Transaction Junction’s omnichannel payment platform enables this, while affording retailers a holistic view of their clients.

The convergence of the physical and digital worlds means that geographic monopoly is playing an increasingly smaller role in selling products and services. Moreover, competing on price alone is no longer an effective way to succeed in business, which is why customer experience (CX) has become increasingly important.

Payment is a crucial part of CX, but with the introduction of multiple eCommerce channels, the advancement of payment technologies and the abundance of digital customer engagements, it is even more important now than ever.

There is a reason why eCommerce sites now take cash at distribution centres, or why food delivery services now accept physical card payments on delivery. Successful businesses understand that sales increase when payments are made simple and convenient because the customer’s payment preference is catered for. The simple fact is that a customer’s payment experience is the last critical step whereby you either deliver a good CX, or you end up losing a customer.

Explains Craig Duggan, Commercial Head at Transaction Junction, a fintech company specialising in digital payment solutions for the future, when a customer seeks to make a payment, it is imperative that their experience is seamless. At the same time, the process needs to be as accurate and secure as possible for the merchant.

“Every step in the buying journey is an opportunity to create a good experience, or risk losing a sale. A seamless payment process that gives the customer the choices and experience they want, ultimately leads to a measurable increase in conversion. Payment service providers like ourselves should not merely enable payment acceptance, but rather always view the end-customers’ experience as a primary focus and a true measurement of our success or failure,” he says.

In today’s digital world, says Duggan, a seamless experience for the customer includes access to multiple value-added services that enhance the experience further, from making a payment with either a credit card or a cell phone, to being able to purchase digital goods like airtime, electricity, or gift cards at the till point.

Transaction Junction takes a multi- or omnichannel approach to payment acceptance. “We have developed expertise in all physical payment channels, enabling integrated payment acceptance from multi-lane FMCG environments and forecourts, to a table in a restaurant or from the back of a delivery van. Our focus on creating expertise and innovations across physical channels has allowed TJ to add real value to its customers in retail and hospitality.”

A true omnichannel approach allows retailers to interact with their customers across all types of physical and digital channels, while at the same time obtaining a single view of the customer and the process across these disparate options. “We have the experience in and knowledge of the physical processing space, as well as a deep understanding of the technology being used and the importance of CX to deliver this.”

Of course, he continues, to deliver true omnichannel payment acceptance, Transaction Junction knows that eCommerce is needed. Therefore, TJ experts spent a lot of time and energy this year adding a stable and feature-rich eCommerce offering to its existing payments platform.

“We are hugely proud of the result. With Transaction Junction, our customers can now accept payments through literally any physical or digital channel. They can offer payment methods like SnapScan or Zapper, as well as cashless or contactless payments like tap-and-go or instant EFT online and in-store – truly catering for a customer journey that we now know exists across digital and physical environments.”

An effective omnichannel payment service provides a consistent and seamless CX across both the eCommerce and physical payment channels, indicates Duggan. It should be obvious that every additional action a customer performs – such as having to re-submit billing or address data – provides a new opportunity for sales conversion failure.

“With the company’s technology backbone, multiple payment methods, strong integration and seamless switching, Transaction Junction is able to significantly reduce the friction experienced by customers, thereby ensuring that the CX is as fantastic and comprehensive as possible.”

Bringing all payments across all channels together through a single payment platform allows TJ to eliminate the need for its clients’ end-customers to carry a multiplicity of cards and cash to settle their bills.

“Further, it also creates cost and operational efficiencies for our own clients, while also allowing us to start providing true omnichannel analytics and insights to them. Turning omnichannel payment data into insights that have actual business value for our customers is the next step in our omnichannel journey, and we are thrilled to have an engaged and growing customer base who are ready to walk this road with Transaction Junction,” concludes Duggan.

Seattle Coffee Company understands that while its business is coffee, customer service is equally as critical. To this end, it partnered with Transaction Junction to make both payments and tipping a simple and easy process.

In the hospitality industry, the need to focus on customer service is paramount, and delivering such service effectively is predicated on two specific angles. The first of these lies in having well-trained, focused staff to ensure that all the customer’s requirements are properly met. The second lies in the ability to facilitate an easy payment, regardless of which payment method the customer chooses to use.

For Seattle Coff ee Company, the fi rst area of service is taken care of, as its people are hard-working, completely customer-focused and have a reputation for building strong and lasting relationships with regular customers. However, for a long time, the business operated without having its credit card facility and its point of sale (PoS) system integrated.

Not only did this create additional challenges for customers paying and tipping by credit card, but it also opened the door to possible inaccuracies and errors with the till, not to mention potential theft and fraud.

Launched in London by a husband-and-wife team who were inspired by their experience of specialty coffee brands in their hometown, Seattle Coffee Company was then brought to South Africa and the first local store opened its doors in Cavendish Square, Cape Town in November 1997.

The company strives to capture the artisanal approach to the coffee craft – traceability of crops; handpicked harvesting; hand roasting; and manual espresso production – a ‘quality at-all-costs’ approach that shines through in everything the business does. The company operates its specialty stores in key urban areas, as well as along the major holiday routes, providing an additional level of comfort to those who are travelling, yet still like to see and have something familiar while on their journey.

Choosing the right partner; improving the systems

According to Rossiter, General Manager at the Seattle Coffee Company, the organisational culture is one based first and foremost on relationships. To this end, he says, the business takes its relations with suppliers seriously, which is why it considers a good organisational fit a key prerequisite.

“Our relationship with Transaction Junction has been going since 2017, when we first decided to improve our PoS set-up. Our meeting with them came about through our strong relationship with Food Lover’s Market – the company is a shareholder in Seattle Coffee Company – and when we were shopping around for a supplier to help us improve our PoS situation, the Food Lover’s team recommended Transaction Junction,” he explains.

“Of course, we researched and engaged with other potential providers, who turned out to be too ‘corporate’ in their approach – to put it another way, they were all suits and flash, whereas we prefer a more relaxed and laid-back approach. After meeting with the Transaction Junction team, we knew instantly that their focus on what needs doing, rather than on airs and graces, suited us perfectly.”

Says Craig Duggan, Head of Commercial at Transaction Junction. “Seattle Coffee Company delivers a fantastic customer experience; they know what their customers need and continuously strive to exceed their overall experience. Our working relationship is collaborative and engaging, helping us to appreciate and understand the needs of their business. Constant innovation is exactly what payments are all about and tailoring our solutions to meet Seattle Coffee Company’s ideas is precisely where the value lies in our relationship.”

Rossiter describes Seattle Coffee Company’s ‘before’ PoS environment, as ‘totally manual’, with no integration at all between the credit card machine and the PoS. “Our PoS requirements are generally fairly simple in comparison to some of the larger chains. While we require central reporting, until recently, running a PoS unit and a separate credit card machine worked just fine in our standard café environment.”

However, continues Rossiter, this approach also meant that when customers came to settle their bill via credit card, they were presented with a separate credit card payment device.

“Now, thanks to Transaction Junction, the entire PoS system is connected, meaning that all payments are facilitated by the PIN Entry Device (PED) on the front counter. This makes cash ups simpler, reduces invoice tallying errors and means there is no handling of the credit card device by employees. Now the customer simply taps and goes or uses the PED in front of them. This means little chance for any fraud or card-skimming to occur.”

“This change was driven, at least in part, by our customers who let us know about their desire to give our baristas credit card-facilitated tips. Until we changed to an integrated system, this had not been allowed because of the potential spectre of fraud that it raised. However, with an integrated PED that always points towards the customer side, they are now totally in control of the tip amount they choose to give.”

Driving the business forward

At Seattle Coffee Company, he continues, it goes without saying that while the business is coffee, customer service is equally as critical.

“Think about it: great coffee allied to an average customer service ultimately adds up to an overall average experience. On the other hand, if both coffee and service are
equally great, it creates the kind of experience that every customer wants to come back to,” states Rossiter.

“When I say that our people are one of our greatest assets, I am not overstating anything. Not only are our employees highly motivated to deliver top class customer service, but they excel at it to such a degree that customers often develop strong relationships and even friendships with our staff – to the point where they are even sent Christmas hampers by certain customers.”

The unique customer-barista dynamic prompted Seattle Coffee Company to engage with Transaction Junction about ways to fulfil the customers’ wish to be able to offer tips via credit card. The new solution was implemented during the Covid-19 lockdown period when the hospitality industry was closed. Rossiter points out that this functionality was greatly welcomed by staff on their return to work.

“We have some stores where employees can earn tips of around R600-R700 on any given day. Since we introduced the credit card tipping functionality, their tips have almost doubled.”

“Good customer service is only delivered by happy staff members, and employees, of course, are only happy if they know the business cares for their wellbeing. It goes without saying that when we saw there was an opportunity to implement a system that would benefit them, while not posing any risk to the customer, we leaped at it.”

Moreover, he continues, it has created an ongoing cycle of improvement. This is because the staff are happy to receive larger tips, so they provide better customer service; customers are happier with the improved levels of service, and naturally they tip more.

The Covid-19 challenge

With no need for a separate PoS and credit card machine, Rossiter suggests that this means fewer hands touching the end-user devices, thereby helping to address one of the many challenges of Covid-19. All told, it improves things, since there is no need to hand over a credit card and often no need to even touch the keypad, thanks to tap-and-go.

The other challenge in the marketplace is third-party payment providers and the growing demand from customers to be able to use any provider to settle their bill. Rossiter explains that Masterpass makes it a simple matter for the customer to use their cellphone to pay their bill as the majority of third-party payment providers are available through the Masterpass application.

“Masterpass is also uniquely beneficial for reducing the potential to pass on the virus, since the customer can simply use their phone to make a payment, meaning no touching or exchanging of cards, cash or devices.”

Few challenges, many benefits

Says Duggan, “Although the interoperability benefits offered by Masterpass, in conjunction with SnapScan and Zapper, created an obvious benefit of going the Masterpass route for implementation, more recent news confirmed that the interoperability mechanisms provided for are proving to be a challenge for the industry as a whole. Despite this, Transaction Junction continues to engage with SnapScan and Zapper, working together to implement a solution that provides Seattle Coffee Company and its customers with the ability to transact easily. We have a shared vision to facilitate a significant improvement to the overall customer journey.”

When asked if there were any challenges with implementing the new Masterpass solution, Rossiter suggests that the only real issue was to ensure that the company’s baristas understood exactly how the Masterpass offering works, to be able to properly communicate this to customers.

This was solved through educational training videos to its internal teams, and in-store posters to assist customers in understanding that they are now able to pay with any of the apps listed on the poster.

“The credit card tipping functionality, tap-and-go offering and Masterpass are all critical benefits we have gained through our relationship with Transaction Junction, and which have significantly and positively improved things for us. Further, this has led to a reduction in transaction times, which means the customer experiences a more rapid turnaround when waiting to pay, which makes them happier.”

“This is really such cool functionality to work with, and while we aren’t surprised, we are certainly pleased with everything Transaction Junction has done. I believe the key to our ongoing success here is our relationship with them.”

“When it comes to Transaction Junction, nothing is too difficult or too much trouble to test or to implement. Best of all, our relationship remains easy, friendly, and informal, which makes it a pleasure to get things done without any real stress. They are the kind of partner we would have around for coffee any time,” he concludes.

About Seattle Coff ee Company

Today, Seattle Coff ee Company remains independent of any international parent company and maintain their roots as an exclusively South African, family-run business.

Seattle Coff ee Company strives to capture the artisanal approach towards their craft – traceability of crops; handpicked harvesting; hand roasting and manual espresso production – a ‘quality at-all-costs’ approach that cascades down from farm to the cup in your hand. They fi rmly believe that the quality of their beans is directly related to the quality of the lives their farmer’s lead.

Through their partnership with Union Hand Roasted, they have established direct relationships with each farmer or co-operative, working closely with them to produce the highest quality product as well as supporting them and their communities. Along with regular visits to farms, they pay far above commodity prices – investing financially into their lives and ultimately into the quality of the beans they produce. Their beans are then hand roasted in the seaside suburb of Muizenberg, Cape Town.

To pair with their coff ee, they have put together a food off ering available in stores that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with their coff ee – hand-made and artisanal snacks for which you will come back time and again, The Way You Like It.

Black Friday in South Africa evolved into Black November and Transaction Junction processed billions of Rands of transactions, despite the challenges created by Covid-19.

Black Friday has a reputation for being all about huge sales, massive crowds, and utter madness at the tills. However, with the world still reeling under the impact of Covid-19 in the lead up to this unique day, many retailers were concerned about just how successful the event would be in 2020. Fortunately for these businesses, new payment methods and an increase in online transaction methods played a role in ensuring that what has been an increasingly popular promotion in recent years continued in the same, successful vein.

According to Craig Duggan, Commercial Head at Transaction Junction, a fintech company that specialises in digital payment solutions for the future, South African businesses have – in previous years – struggled to deal with the customer volumes they face on Black Friday. It is for this reason that most often, the sales specials associated with the day are spread out over a longer period. “It evolved into more of a Black November, which reduced the pressure on retailers’ payment platforms and meant that their systems were less likely to crash.”

“Transaction Junction is well positioned to provide feedback on the November sales this year. While we did not necessarily see a huge increase in transactions on Black Friday itself, we definitely witnessed a sustained rate of transactions on the day of over 100 transactions per second (TPS) on our platform.”

Duggan points out that for the entire month of November, however, success can be measured in the billions. “Transaction Junction’s platform processed just short of R2.8 billion worth of transactions, from a total number of nearly 180 million undertaken.”

“There is little doubt that we experienced a bullish November, not only in terms of the number and value of the transactions processed, but also, we did not experience a single minute of downtime. Further, our year-on-year merchant acquisition numbers are up by some 60%, since an increasing number of retailers are recognising the benefits of our integrated, client-facing solutions, which eliminate the need for physical handling of point of sale (PoS) devices.” “Add to this our diversification and move into an omni-channel platform, and it is no surprise that Transaction Junction had an exceptionally good year. I put our success down to our ability to deliver services across diverse channels, as well as the sheer quality of the overall platform. November may have been ‘black’ for some, but our experiences throughout the month were the exact opposite,” he concludes.

Transaction Junction, specialising in digital payment solutions for the future, provides a payment experience to boost customer experience at We are EGG’s new and original omnichannel retail offering.

In a unique and new concept that is as important for today’s corporate landlords as it is for the country’s smaller creative retailers, We are EGG combines retail and e-commerce for a new generation of customer. The idea is to deliver an all-inclusive entertainment, locally sourced, learning and lifestyle fulfilment experience from a trip to the “mall”.

Many small retailers cannot afford to have a shop in a big mall, and even when they are able to, they find the process incredibly daunting, with complex contracts, tons of rules and plenty of guidelines relating to ‘look and feel’. We are EGG launched to turn this principle upside down, delivering an omnichannel retail offering that includes both online and an in-store app.

According to Craig Duggan, Commercial Head at Transaction Junction, We are EGG is so named as it represents incubation, creativity and collaboration. He points out that the concept aims to represent small, medium and micro enterprises, with the first outlet in Cavendish Square, Cape Town, home to some 240 emerging local brands.

“We are EGG is a carefully curated destination offering something for everyone, thanks to its

multi-brand, omnichannel retail concept that offers an experiential journey. Clearly, a concept like this requires an equally unique and effective payment platform to augment the retail experience. Our role is to leverage the latest technologies and provide a solution for a diverse set of merchants, retailers and individuals,” says Duggan.

“Remember that if a customer’s payment experience at the end of their shopping trip is less pleasant than the retail experience, it sours the entire process. Therefore, our goal is to make the payment experience as good as the retail one – and We are EGG had over 7 000 customers within the first two days of its opening.”

He explains that within the store, there are some 37 till points, and Transaction Junction provides a solution that is secure, offers multiple capabilities and ensures that the retailers get paid.

“Our initial point-of-sale (PoS) implementation allows shoppers to pay by card, including contactless payments. The next step will be to implement Masterpass, which will allow customers to use their mobile devices to make payments as well.”

We Are Egg appointed Thinnpro, a distributor of Erply point of sale, the cloud based PoS solution selected. Thinnpro partnered with Transaction Junction as the preferred integrated payments provider. Says Dylan Malan, Business Development Manager at ThinnPro, “We chose Transaction Junction for their proven track record and willingness to engage directly with our software partners. The project timelines required tried and tested systems and their development experience in integrations is invaluable to rolling out an intuitive and robust payment system for We are EGG. This was further backed up by great communication that helped bring together the banking relationships, software integration, on-site installations and even post launch support.”

Concludes Duggan, “Our part in this project forms an important part of the complete offering and our experience with We are EGG has been wonderful. We look forward to engaging with them further as they progress this unique concept throughout the country.”

Digitisation is increasing the number of ways customers choose to interact with point-of-sale (PoS) devices. Agility in the PoS platform is key to keeping pace with this evolution.

There is little doubt that the rapidly evolving point-of-sale (PoS) landscape and the growing number of digital applications and mobile payment methods is exciting for many retailers. However, it is also challenging, as the PoS environment must be made more agile and flexible. This is due to the sheer pace of change in the digital era, which means that only those businesses capable of rapid evolution will ultimately succeed.

According to Norman Frankel, MD for Europe and UK at fintech solutions company Stanchion, constant innovation has become a challenge to solve, especially in an environment where security, regulation and compliance remain non-negotiable.

“The biggest challenge faced by PoS service providers is that, while payment networks remain robust and secure, they also come with complex legacy messaging standards and protocols. Affecting change in this environment can take a long time. It is clear that although digitalisation is transforming the manner in which consumers use various payment methods, deploying these back into a legacy environment will slow things down and reduce competitive advantage, while increasing cost and frustration,” he says.

“It is worth noting, then, that protocol converters and payment grade rails can be used to speed up deployments without changing the existing investments in a PoS environment. These, in turn, allow for faster processing and reduced costs, as well as better redundancy.”

Craig Duggan, Commercial Head at Transaction Junction, a fintech company that specialises in digital payment solutions for the future and is a partner of Stanchion’s, adds that as a PoS service provider, it is necessary to be totally agonistic and to have a robust and flexible product set. In this way, he says, Transaction Junction can ensure that delivery options and time-to-market are kept as short as possible.

“Agile PoS payment infrastructures need rapid digital integration for today’s apps and payment methods. Get this right, and you will be in a position to service all the needs of existing clients, and also be able to pivot quickly and introduce new channels as they become popular with consumers,” says Duggan.

“The business benefits of a truly agile PoS system are massive. Firstly, the retail PoS integration time can be reduced from around 12 weeks to about two weeks, while your transaction processing efficiency can increase by up to 5%. Crucially, it also provides a single point of integration solving for all transaction processing needs.”

“Other benefits include a reduction in environmental transaction failure rates and a dramatic reduction in time to deliver new customer enhancements. It also removes cost as a barrier to entry for innovation, making it easier to try new innovations based on real world experiences.”

Remember too, continues Duggan, that because you are creating an environment where multiple service providers can interact through a common platform, you are encouraging greater levels of collaboration, while also reducing the technical and financial barriers that increase the cost to do business.

Says Frankel, “We will soon see 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and numerous other digital technologies coming to the fore. What this means is that the pace of change in the PoS environment is not going to slow down – in fact, it is far more likely to increase. It is for this reason that businesses need to have the agility to integrate these new trends into the PoS as fast as customers adopt them.”

According to Duggan, getting the right digital channels in place for customers is vital, if your PoS solution is to deliver the service customers expect.

“It is critical to understand that the right PoS system will not only be agile and flexible enough to handle this rapidly increasing pace of change, but – most crucially – will improve the customer experience by enabling the kind of super-fast reaction times that today’s modern shoppers are demanding,” he concludes.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with the increased uptake of online shopping and the adoption of new digital payment methods, November should be a successful month of shopping for all.

Says Craig Duggan, Commercial Head at Transaction Junction, “Black November is now in full swing; retailers have extended their offerings and now Black Friday, which was a single day event, has extended over the month.”

However, retailers, consumers, and transaction facilitators remain concerned about the impact the ongoing pandemic will have on stores that typically attract massive crowds with little social distancing, especially at the tills.

To begin with, the global recession created by lockdowns experienced across the world means that fewer people have spare cash to spend. On the other hand, the bargains offered during this period may convince many consumers that this is the perfect time to shop for Christmas presents.  “Retailers will need to be creative with their credit options as the economic impact of the lockdown and its repercussions to consumers and retailers alike remains a considerable concern to many,” says Duggan.

Secondly, there is a significant concern that fear of contracting the virus will keep many consumers out of stores. That is of course not to say they will not be taking advantage of the sales, but those who can, will most probably shop online.

Covid-19 has inspired those consumers – who can – to shop online. For those who cannot, it has increased the demand for new, safer ways of transacting.

Says Duggan, “One of the keys to living in an infected world is to avoid touching surfaces that may be contaminated, therefore the way we pay – using either physical money or punching keypads for card payments – has had to evolve at a rapid rate.”

“We have seen a demand for new payment methods and the right software, implemented on an existing point-of-sale (PoS) device, will enable consumers to use a multitude of different payment options. This includes the use of mobile phones and tap-and-go cards, and already in many cases includes wearables.”

Duggan explains that fintech software creates a link between the disparate till environments, the various payment terminals and the banks and financial institutions facilitating the transactions. This environment enables an ecosystem that caters for multiple payment methods leveraging the increased speeds and security of the digital payment, while affording consumers a diversity of choice that caters to their unique requirements.

There can be no doubt that the use of a phone as a means of transacting at a till, or online is fuelled by the convenience factor it offers. After all, people often lose or forget their wallets, but the reality is that mobile phones have become an every-day essential item that remains within reach.

“Demand for phone payments and acceptance using QR codes has been fuelled by concerns about contracting the virus. However, many retailers have still not enabled QR code-based payments. The recent loss of interoperability between the key players in the South African QR space, e.g. Masterpass, SnapScan and Zapper, has been a blow to retailer adoption as merchants are faced with the added expense of multiple providers and distinctly separate solutions to cater to consumer convenience.” Duggan adds, “In an environment where margins are tight, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain simplicity – digital payment providers have the opportunity to facilitate convenience through innovative solutions that make the choices retailers face far easier and more cost-effective”. 

Purely from an industry perspective, it is unfortunate that the strides made to achieve interoperability have been dealt such a blow and especially during the leadup to this peak trading period of the year.

Masterpass made significant inroads into the banking space, with most banking applications now supporting Masterpass as a means of facilitating payment directly from the consumer’s banking app.  Often consumers are unaware that they have this capability on their phones.  “Of course, the contactless payment is uniquely beneficial for reducing the potential to pass on the virus, since the consumer uses their phone to make a payment, meaning no touching or exchanging of cards, cash or devices.”

Despite the implementation of innovative digital payment solutions, Duggan suggests that there remains no way of knowing how many people will brave the stores, the queues, and the crowds to obtain Black November bargains. However, he adds, regardless of actual in-store figures, he expects the overall number of transactions to be massive.

“November 2019 was a record transaction processing month – in terms of both value and volume – in Transaction Junction’s history, and we expect a similar scenario this year, only with more transactions moving online.”

With such a vast increase in online traffic in such a short period, will retailers have the technology, capacity, and fulfilment partners to ensure that all shopping happens without a glitch?  “In recent years, this has been a hurdle, but this year with the almost enforced move to online trade, many retailers have made significant strides in their fulfilment capabilities, facilitating greater trust in the consumer space,” says Duggan.

As a business-enablement platform that encompass every level of touchpoint in the digital payments chain, Transaction Junction’s focus is to ensure that payments are delivered at the PoS securely and timeously.

“We processed over 40 million additional transactions last year, compared to 2018, and despite the growth in volume, the question ‘can our systems cope?’ was never raised, because as the electronic payment enabler, our systems are designed with events like these in mind. As such, even during peak Black Friday traffic in 2019, we only reached around 30% of our capacity.”

While Transaction Junction is not a customer-facing company, continues Duggan, we are aware that any issue with our systems will have a negative impact on partners, retailers, and banks. Therefore, our responsibility is to implement the right strategy and technologies to protect our customers’ brands and reputations.

“Ultimately, how the technology works is not the retailers’ concern – all they want is for the consumer to make payments with whatever card or the device they choose. Hence why there is a growing demand for transaction services that are both bank- and device-agnostic, as the flexibility this offers is critical. It is also worth noting that although security remains a legitimate concern for many, from a Transaction Junction perspective, we deliver peace of mind to our customer’s, thanks to having more security certifications than anyone else in our field.”

“While one can rightfully argue that Black Friday has evolved into Black November, there is no doubt that Black Friday 2020 will be a hit. I expect to see a huge uptake in eCommerce this November, which means that it is critical that all participants in the supply chain – whether on the payments, fulfilment or delivery side – are ready and prepared to take things to the next level,” concludes Duggan.  

At Transaction Junction, we acknowledge our responsibility to be good corporate citizens and to help build a better South Africa for us all.

We believe it is crucial to invest in our local communities and people so that barriers are removed and challenges overcome.

Veneshley Samuels is a glowing example of what can be done, and we are proud of the role we played in helping her to reach for, and achieve her dreams.

TJ has provided financial assistance to Veneshley since her first year at the University of Cape Town. Today she is a PhD candidate and internationally recognised as a leader in her field.

Veneshley is looking to change lives by finding cures for diseases. Growing up in Atlantis, Veneshley saw that many families, living in close quarters together, contracted tuberculosis and this experience has driven her to want to specialise in TB research. She has paired with mentor Dr. Andani Mulelu, a biochemist and research scientist at UCT’s Drug Discovery and Development Research Unit. Dr. Mulelu’s field of study is molecular biology, protein engineering and structural biology which he is harnessing towards developing a rapid test to diagnose tuberculosis. His mentorship gave Veneshley the encouragement to continue to pursue her goal.

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E-commerce is a digital marketplace with its own rules for procuring goods and services. Craig Duggan, Head of Commercial at Transaction Junction says the need to ensure confidence in the security and privacy of these transactions has resulted in legislation that tightly regulates and often restricts e-commerce and innovation. The convergence between the online and in-store world requires that the payment experience be seamless and consumer friendly.

He says regulation is the biggest hurdle in an agile innovation environment. “The intention of e-commerce regulatory policies is to create a structure for transaction processing so that there is no chaos or confusion, while the protection of the consumer remains sacrosanct.” However, while the intention cannot be faulted, the theoretical application does not always support the practical application of e-commerce or consider the customer experience, making it difficult for the payments industry to innovate.

As a result, businesses are confined to operating within a box of limitations where banks are empowered to be the sole gatekeepers of the payment process. Duggan says the regulatory framework in this country creates a system of control for the banks, whereby digital payment systems are narrowed to enable them to squeeze through the gateway. This often negates the advantages they are seeking to provide. Measures are slowly being introduced to help speed up innovation in this space in South Africa, but the fact remains that a payments system – that was the envy of many all over the world – has stagnated and not been adequately positioned to adapt to the rapid changes taking place around us today.

“The way in which the local financial system is designed, enables banks to leverage regulations and technology, placing them in a position to determine under what circumstances new solutions or market entrants can participate in the National Payment System,” says Duggan. As a participant in the National Payment System, the regulatory framework insists that one needs a banking license or sponsor bank to operate, which often limits the ability to leverage more efficient processes. 

The current regulations are ineffectual for business models that must cater for the ever-changing needs of today’s demanding consumers, merchants, and tech-savvy market participants. Duggan considers PayPal, for example, was sublicensed by a major bank in South Africa – which then made it complicated and, in many ways, impractical when it was launched in South Africa. PayPal is designed exactly to what the customer needs: quick, seamless, and convenient. The reason for PayPal being unsuccessfully applied in South Africa to date is due to the inflexible stance of ‘what’s in it for me?’. Other examples are SnapScan and Zapper that find themselves constrained as market innovators and their only path to continued success is further bank involvement or even ownership. “Given so much control, you simply cannot operate without banks, and unless banks are open to exploring new, refreshing ways of doing business, the industry will continue to suffer,’’ says Duggan.

Primarily recognising financial or commercial regulation prohibitors will positively mobilise change. The question “how do we drive transparency?” comes into play. “Collaboration is key, it’s time to draw a line in the sand; stakeholders need to urgently identify what is relevant and required to collectively lower the barriers of entry into the e-commerce marketplace, he says. The integrity and stability of the payments system requires stakeholders to recognise the fine balance between regulation, control and innovation.”

About

Transaction Junction (TJ) focuses on the digital payments journey, using technology and innovation to enhance the overall customer experience.

TJ is a business-enablement transaction platform that delivers digital payment solutions to suit the needs of businesses across diverse markets, while ensuring that the regulatory requirements are taken care of.

TJ provides services that encompass every level of touchpoint in the payment chain, ensuring that payments are delivered at the point of sale (POS) securely and timeously. TJ solutions provide retailers with the flexibility they need when it comes to choosing the financial services provider, digital product ranges and end-user devices they require.

TJ consistently delivers innovations via the introduction of new technologies, payment types and economies of scale, all positively influencing the integrity of the overall transaction flow.

www.transactionjunction.co.za

Craig Duggan

(+27) 076 547 4937

craig@switch.tj

Transaction Junction in partnership with Efficacy Payments, a local fintech founded to displace cash in formal and informal retail environments, has developed a new service that enables customers to make cash deposits directly into their bank accounts at any store till point.

The solution is called Deposit @ Till and after a successful rollout to Pick n Pay stores, is now being deployed in a further rollout to include all Pick n Pay’s Boxer outlets.

Currently, customers from ten banks can make use of Deposit @ Till with the remaining banks being brought on board in due course.

Customers only need to bring their Visa or MasterCard bank card and the cash they wish to deposit to any Pick n Pay or Boxer till point.

Says Craig Duggan, head of Commercial at Transaction Junction, “We are proud to be the technology and innovation lead, and to have worked with the Pick n Pay team, including key role players such as Visa, MasterCard and Bankserv on this project.”

“Customers benefit by effecting real-time deposits directly into their bank accounts when authenticated by their bank card at the point of service. The exponential increase in deposit taking capabilities for banks comes without the need to invest in expensive infrastructure, benefiting from innovations in authentication and transaction processing led by the Transaction Junction design team.”

According to Richard van Rensburg, chief information officer at Pick n Pay, this is another step towards making banking services more accessible and convenient for customers, anywhere in South Africa.

Says Duggan, “Transaction Junction is working hard to create more efficient ways of transacting. This is the first step in lowering the costs of doing business, while making the national payments system more accessible and increasingly relevant to the general public. Working with Efficacy Payments enabled us to put these building blocks in place to steadily make available a dynamic range of products and services, changing the way we think about payments.”

With several exciting initiatives on the cards, the partnership between Transaction Junction and Efficacy Payments is perfectly poised to alter the transaction processing landscape in a significant way.

Reference: https://lnkd.in/dBm7ZEw

About: Transaction Junction is a business-enablement transaction platform that delivers digital payment solutions to suit the needs of businesses across diverse markets.
Visit: https://transactionjunction.co.za

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