As part of my commitment to share more new about Microsoft’s presence at Sibos, I’d like to introduce you to a key partner that delivers highly innovative payments and commerce solutions.  FreedomPay is a strategic partner that leverages the Azure cloud, devices and analytics to bring a unique digital wallet and mobile payments experience on the Microsoft platform. To provide some more insight to FreedomPay, their role enabling commerce with Microsoft, I invited Christopher Kronenthal, chief technology officer of FreedomPay to share some thoughts. Chris was recently featured in Finance on Windows magazine.

Chris. Thank you for taking some time to discuss some of the trends you see happening in the industry today.

Thanks Colin. It’s a pleasure.

What kind of business changes do you see happening to the payments world?

There are so many changes, but if I had to pick one that is the most impactful, I’d say the collision of the Retail and Financial Services over the past five years. Both industries - and the world at large – have accepted that the future of payments is all going to happen on phones and mobile devices. However, both industries have been largely struggling to figure out how. We've seen enterprises in both industries rush to make investments in an effort to stay more relevant, but unfortunately, those investments were with a plethora of different startups with point solutions and new business models.

After lots of trials, the realization is now hitting that payments is really all about how effectively you can capture and manage data about consumer shopping habits. Retailers and banks have concluded that they need a platform that can handle all the end points, not just the simple transaction.

I imagine that imposes some technology challenges and considerations….

Indeed. Enterprises in both the Retail and Financial Services industries that have implemented lots of point technologies and are now having trouble maintaining all the various end points, but are hesitant to throw out their legacy systems. In order for financial brands to stay relevant, legacy backend systems like CRM systems, banking applications, etc. have to be made more agile to reach consumers; on the Retail side standalone applications to handle couponing, loyalty, offers etc are not at where they need to be. On the banking side specifically, there is current realization that the best way for banks to stay relevant to consumers is to be more involved in the shopping and buying experience beyond just the transaction. Banking applications have a wealth of information about consumer needs - however the systems that contain all this data are not agile enough to get these institutions fully involved.  This is where our modularized platform can help.

What technologies are key to solving these challenges?

FreedomPay in collaboration with Microsoft really studied the trends and we strongly believe a platform approach is what is needed. What’s happening today is very similar to historic trends that prompted technology players like Microsoft to introduce other types of platforms in the market place. For example, prior to the .NET platform being released over ten years ago, Microsoft saw a really strong need for enterprises to reduce huge costs in maintaining lots of point solutions in the enterprise with different technologies.  The same thing has happened with payments over the last five years. Every point or proprietary solution means a corporation has to maintain a set of technology experts in house to maintain those systems and move to new versions. FreedomPay has a consistent platform to handle challenges across the payments value chain - from building digital wallet solutions, to managing offers and incentives to making sense of all the "big data" with robust business intelligence tools. Through our partnership with Microsoft we've been able to use baseline technologies like .NET, Azure cloud technologies, Office, etc. to provide strong solutions which are making a difference with customers.

Microsoft is showcasig the concept of a Payments Platform as a Service at Sibos and I see FreedomPay as key in enabling that offering. What advice would you give banks considering such an approach?

Lots of banks are really struggling to figure out how they can transform their architectures into state of the art next generation systems where they can add more value to their merchant customers and keep their brand top of wallet with
their consumers.

On the surface it looks like a massive problem with huge costs.  The way to solve this is not just a technology issue - but also the methodology and approach used.  The reason why we built a cloud based, componentized and modular framework is because we recognize banks want to leverage existing investments and have a phased, cost effective approach to the end state. We know banks can’t just toss out old systems, implement all new infrastructures, and we set out to build a platform that allowed banks to leverage their existing investments. Our technology can extend the value of those investments and modernize legacy systems to enable strong participation.  In collaboration with Microsoft, we will take banks through a very systematic process to envision their next generation architectures and map relevant technologies that can add value (versus replace) existing investments. The best advice is engage with Microsoft and FreedomPay in one of our Architecture
Design workshops where we will identify current gaps, start with the highest priority areas and develop a solid technology framework to get to the end state.  It's always good to start small and then consolidate legacy systems over time. This is the most cost effective and makes the most business sense.

Other than seeing Payments Platform as a Service solutions at the Microsoft stand (D108), how can people who may not be at Sibos also contact you to find out more about FreedomPay and your payments and your commerce solutions?

Send requests to sales@FreedomPay.com  and we will be happy to set up time on the calendar to find out more about the problem at hand, provide more details on our solutions and recommendations on a cost effective path forward.

Chris, many thanks for your partnership and your time today, and I look forward to seeing you in Dubai!

Thank you, Colin! Looking forward to seeing you there!