How Sphere’s CloudPayments Answered the Need for Integrated Payment Solutions in the ISV/SaaS market
We recently sat down with Curtis Bauer, Chief Innovation Officer of Sphere, to explore Sphere’s new product, CloudPayments. In this Q&A, he touches on ISV/SaaS providers’ pain points that lead to this innovative solution. In addition, he covers how it works and why a SaaS early adopter called it, “a dream come true.”
Q1: What sparked launching CloudPayments for the ISV/SaaS market?
A: To answer this question, we have to travel back in time a bit. During the initial explosion in software, the vast majority of business management solutions were considered on-premises or “on-prem” implementations that required the installation of software on a desktop computer in order for it to be used. As these various business management solutions expanded their feature set, they looked to integrate electronic payments acceptance into their core solution to make it easier for the merchant. It provided considerable benefits with reporting consolidation/reconciliation and customer experience. Since “on-prem” solutions required the installation of software, installing additional software, including device drivers or device access layers, in order for the software solution to communicate with a countertop credit card terminal, typically connected via USB or serial port, was not necessarily an issue.
However, fast forward to today and most major vertical-based solution providers have either moved to or are in the process of moving to a software as a service “SaaS” model. SaaS solutions or “web-based software” provide a way of delivering software applications over the internet, typically via a web browser, without the need to install software on the desktop.
SaaS-based solutions make it much easier to deploy and implement customers, provide real-time updates with immediate customer adoption, and improve overall customer support.
It was this shift from “on-prem” to SaaS models that caused us to re-think what products and solutions we were providing to ISVs/SaaS providers who needed integrated payment solutions on their core products, but who no longer had the tolerance of installing software on the desktop computer. We basically had to architect a completely new product from the ground up, that mirrored SaaS solutions and removed the need to install any software on the desktop computer.
Q2: How does the CloudPayments solution work?
A: All integrated payment solutions that have a need for card-present transactions include some type of integration method that allows the business management solution to communicate with the credit card terminal in order to facilitate a payment. What we have done with our new CloudPayments solution is instead of having the ISV/SaaS solutions communicate directly to the device, we have them integrate directly to our TrustCommerce® payment gateway, where they will send all payment requests to us, and we will directly manage the interaction with the credit card payment terminal. By leveraging what are, in a sense, just Android based tablets that look and feel like traditional credit card terminals (just much more futuristic looking), it provides us with an extremely smart credit card terminal that has the ability to receive an inbound payment request from our TrustCommerce payment gateway over WIFI or ethernet. When the request is received, the credit card terminal will communicate directly to our payment gateway and will process the transaction like a traditional electronic transaction. Once complete, the response (i.e., approved/declined), will be sent back to the ISV/SaaS provider for merchant awareness and reporting, but will also send the response back to the credit card terminal for consumer awareness.
Q3: How does CloudPayments benefit independent software vendors and SaaS solutions?
A: As a recent independent software vendor who integrated into the product communicated, “It is a dream come true,” as it solves for every major hurdle that has historically made it complex for an ISV/SaaS provider to add card-present electronic payments capabilities to their solution. Those benefits include:
- A much easier and faster payment integration to allow an ISV/SaaS provider to add card-present payments. (Single API, directly to the TrustCommerce gateway.)
- A virtually touch-free customer implementation – No software needs to be installed. It is virtually plug ‘n’ play.
- The ISV does not have to complete any certification work – All supported devices are pre-certified for EMV, NFC, mag-stripe into the TrustCommerce gateway.
- As Sphere adds new devices, the ISV/SaaS provider does not need to complete any additional integration or certification work. They will just work.
- Sensitive card data will never touch an ISV/SaaS provider’s platform, thus significantly reducing their PCI scope and reducing risk for a card data breach.
- The card-present API can also be used to support all card-not-present needs – for example, if a merchant wants to run a card-present transaction and then store the card information on file for future subscription billing, they can do so through the single API.
- Credit card terminals work on both ethernet and WiFi, thus allowing the ISV/SaaS provider to get creative with supporting many business management payments use cases.