John Tait

Why Payments is the Perfect Application for SD-WAN

By John Tait, Global Managing Director, TNS Payments Market

The old days of retail transactions were a simpler time. Your customers paid cash for their products and services — money you could hold in your hand. If your customers didn’t have cash, well, then they didn’t get their goods or services.

Cash transactions morphed into electronic payments, wherein a point-of-sale (POS) terminal was connected point to point to a bank or lender by a dedicated telecom circuit, allowing retailers to accept payment cards. And then came the internet.

Since the advent of the internet, electronic payments are now digital payments — but these are not the same thing. Electronic payments were secure and supported by restrictive infrastructure. Digital payments use open, common-source API and the internet, often Wi-Fi, to connect a POS terminal to banks and credit card vendors.

The shift to digital payments has been accelerated in recent months by COVID-19, and consumers are going digital like never before. Many have had little choice but to adopt contactless or digital payments for their purchases.  With social distancing and online shopping becoming the new normal, total card payments in the Asia Pacific are expected to grow by 6.5% to reach US$20.3 trillion in 2020, and rising further to US$27.4 trillion by 2023, according to GlobalData.

Countries that are largely cash-based including India, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia are also seeing similar trends.

This growth has created areas of vulnerability for retailers everywhere. Almost unsurprisingly, the first six months of 2020 saw significant developments across the cyber threat landscape. With digital fraud increasing in frequency and sophistication, those vulnerabilities don’t just exist in the POS terminal itself. Think about all the connected devices within a modern retail environment — computers, security cameras, smartphones, tablets, wireless printers, as well as all the smart devices like speaker and thermostats, and so on.

Anything connected to the internet represents a risk, because it could be a backdoor for bad actors into a POS terminal, and, therefore, into payment card data.

This means retailers must consider two main things: how they safely manage so many digital and connected devices within a retail environment, and how they can securely support their digital payments applications. Amidst the backdrop of the pandemic, these considerations have become more important now than ever before.

This is where SD-WAN comes in. Among other capabilities, software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) gives retailers a more efficient way to manage business-critical applications like payment routing. It provides a centralized way to manage a network, reducing the complexity of an always-connected commerce environment.

With SD-WAN, retailers can securely connect, for example:

  • Online e-commerce gateways
  • Automatic Teller Machines (ATM)
  • POS terminals
  • Tablets for digital payments
  • Cash registers
  • Printers
  • Back-office computing
  • Fuel forecourt tank gauges
  • CCTV cameras
  • Guest Wi-Fi networks

It can provide a high level of detail for all of these connected devices, showing retailers what devices are consuming data at the communications layer. This helps retailers prioritize their data usage centrally to secure their payments and other business-critical systems.

SD-WAN can also protect sensitive card data. It can integrate best-in-class security protocols like next-generation stateful firewalls (NGFW) (including IP SEC VPN tunnels), anti-virus features, URL filtering and SSL packet inspection, increasing data and network security across retail environments.

At the end of the day, retailers should be focusing on providing an excellent experience for customers — not worrying about whether their connected devices or their payments terminals are opening the door to risk.

With SD-WAN as the overlay on the broadband or Ethernet connection, and a resilient, proven payments network infrastructure as the underlay, retailers can securely and reliably manage payments transactions and gain peace of mind — for themselves and for their customers.

As Global Managing Director of TNS’ FinTech Business, John Tait is responsible for identifying and driving growth across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific regions. He works closely with the senior regional management teams, as well as TNS’ corporate leadership group, to set the company’s Payments strategy. He is focused on working to meet the unique requirements of TNS customers, employees and shareholders.