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Seeing the Future of Payments

Posted by dourada Aug 17, 2017

When a new ThoughtWorks Technology Radar hits the press, we are always the first people to dig in and drink from the technology fire hose. If there is anything that could get a technologist to salivate it is the anticipation of new technology trends that the ThoughtWorks team noodles on.


However, looking back, we had never performed a deep dive and truly studied the content and ramifications in the radar. Well, that all changed a few months ago when our team wondered....."can we create a payments radar?" And if we could what would it look like? Wonder no more because it's here and is featured in the new release of VantivLabs on VantivONE or click the image below to be linked directly:




Instead of completely rebuilding the radar from scratch we leveraged the ThoughtWorks team's categories where appropriate, but removed quite a few of the radar "blips" that did not seem to apply directly to the payments world. Our radar is based on the November 2016 version of the Thoughtworks Radar which you can view here. The result was three out of the four categories the ThoughtWorks team used: Techniques, Tools, and Platforms. We then included a fourth category that fit the payments world like a glove: Fintech. The one category we removed was Languages & Frameworks. Many of those blips are utilized in the payments world but we found the other categories had a much larger impact on teams that develop and deliver payment applications and also wanted to leave a bit of room for our own submissions under Fintech.


We also leveraged the fabulous radar open source software created by the ThoughtWorks team located here. There is also an excellent blog post and podcast on the whole concept of building a radar here. If you have not figured it out by now we have a little bit of a technology crush on the ThoughtWorks team and will forever thank them for the infrastructure and insight that pushed us on what we are calling the Tech Vitality path. We hope our version of the radar will help everyone that reads it inject some vitality into their business by looking towards the future of technology. A quick mention: have a read through the 'personal technology radar' in the above-mentioned blog post. It's a great way to think about your technology career path.


Our radar is a bit different from the github repo linked above. You can find our modified repository here. It is not much different from the ThoughtWorks repo but we did not want to store our data in a google spreadsheet and instead wanted to serve it up directly via html and javascript. Because we had to pass this content around internally multiple times we leveraged an excel spreadsheet and then utilized a macro to generate the blip javascript content. All of that javascript content was then pasted directly into one of the .js files and served directly from that location. You can read all about it on the readme page in the github repo. If you ever have questions/comments please do not hesitate to contact us. In addition, please feel free to fork our repo and build your own, it's an excellent project to undertake and will take you on a wonderful tour of many different technologies.


What did we find most interesting and what were our reactions:


  • Wow, the amount of content is huge...and we only published one. The ThoughtWorks team appears to publish multiple versions of this over many years. It's truly incredible.
  • Software fundamentals are still the same in product delivery but the whole continuous delivery paradigm has changed the world in a profound way. This is especially intriguing in the payments world where delivering value quickly is of the utmost importance.
  • IndiaStack is one of the most interesting concepts and reminds us that at times we need to pull ourselves out of the places we live and look around at what the rest of the world is doing. Collaboration is such a wonderful thing and often as technologists, we get so focused on the problems at hand that we miss the forest for the trees.
  • The Physical Web -- this is also an intriguing subject that we hope to explore in more detail soon. While not targeted specifically at the payment industry, there is so much overlap it beckons us.
  • Slight Embarrassment -- how have we not heard of some of these technologies? Tempered with the truth that it is incredibly difficult to know everything. What an incredible world we live in that allows us to immediately communicate with one another, transact in multiple currencies, pay for an item with a phone, and then write about it and share it with all of our Vantiv friends and partners. An incredible world indeed!


Please feel free to contact us and/or provide comments directly within the Tech Vitality site.  We welcome your feedback and would enjoy collaborating on future versions of the Tech Vitality site.

Developers prioritizing fraud management in a large stream of financial transactions is a difficult task, but instead of thinking about this from the needle perspective ("needle in a haystack"), allow us to flip the context and discuss the grass growing in the field prior to being cut, baled, and stacked. There is much to be learned from the environment that created a transaction that has already led to interesting fraud detection techniques.


In recently released data from Juniper Research they report that retailers will lose $71 billion in CNP (card not present) fraud over the next 5 years.  That amount should make even the most optimistic payment professional pause and reflect on how we as an industry can wrap our heads around this challenging ecosystem.


In this article we attempt a fraud perspective shift. Instead of thinking a transaction is either fraudulent or not fraudulent we consider the implications of a set of continua (did you know the plural of continuum is continua?) from highly likely to commit fraud to very unlikely to commit fraud, across a set of reputations.


While many of the examples below have been implemented in fraud prevention systems, in this article, the goal is a high level theoretical conversation.  However, if you are interested in concrete details, please feel free to read about the advanced fraud toolkit provided by the Vantiv eComm platform that implements some of the ideas below.



"It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it." -- Benjamin Franklin


Essentially, there are four primary targets where reputation can be used towards better fraud management by developers:

  1. Reputation of the card/account
  2. Reputation of the “device” that is initiating the payment
  3. Reputation of the person presenting the card/account and using the device (this person is not necessarily the person that is authorized to use the card/account).
  4. Reputation of the merchant processing the transaction




Consider the plastic on which the card account is imprinted and what happens if the account (or track) data transitions is written to a piece of paper, or the account/track data is stolen in transit and imprinted on another card.  All of the physical cards that come to represent this specific account and all of the locations of data that originated from the card all have a reputation.  Good reputation or bad reputation is not the point; rather, each iteration of the card/account has a distinct reputation.


Imagine a card typically used to purchase day-to-day items like groceries and fuel in a card present swiped form and then one day the card is used to purchase shoes from an eCommerce store as card not present.  Was this fraud?  Or simply a change in the reputation of the card? Monetary values the card submits are also a portion of the card’s reputation. If the average use of a card is $100.00 per transaction, then an outlier suggests either fraud and/or a change in reputation.


  A card reputation split occurs when the original plastic is used for a card not present transaction or when track data is stolen or tokenized.  Each of these splits generates a reputation birth that can be linked to, or unlinked from, the original reputation.  For example, when one gives their credit card number to a utility for monthly billing, the card data (or hopefully token) stored at the utility company retains its own reputation while also being linked to the original card from which it was born.



The device that processes the card (or card data) also forms a reputation over time and device fingerprinting is an excellent source of reputation data.  Below we consider both card present and card not present environments.


Card Present Environment


Consider the device that processes transactions in a brick and mortar store.  It is typically either a pin pad connected directly to an IP connection or a pin pad connected to a computer (connected to an IP connection). In both cases the reputation of the device is stable both physically and from an IP viewpoint. The device is eventually going to provide a fingerprint of average ticket, physical location, Internet location, day and time of use, etc.  If there is a steady stream of $50 tickets flowing through the device and then a $1000 ticket flows through, we can question the reputation of the device. Another scenario is seeing transactions flowing through for a year only on business days but then seeing a transaction for $60.00 on December 25th.  Those amounts and days might not reflect poorly from a card reputation perspective, but they might trip a device reputation alert.


Card Not Present Environment


In CNP processing, the consumer and card data are typically flowing through the consumer’s personal device(or in some cases, a publicly accessible computer at a library or kiosk). From a CNP fraud perspective the reputation of the device is critical.  Imagine making a payment from your personal smart phone.  The smart phone, like the payment terminal above, is going to quickly create its own reputation.  Purchases are made on certain websites, at certain times of day, for specific amounts, at specific geo locations, and for specific products. Now consider the view from the eComm site’s owner.  They love and seek out device reputations like the one described above.  If however, the website owner detects a transaction inbound from a device located in France, for example, and that website owner knows they do not do business in France, then it is easy to stop fraud based on, in this case, the geo location of device.




The consumer, or person presenting the card (or card data) is typically identified as the fraudster, but as indicated above, there is more of a reputation continuum from highly unlikely to commit fraud to very likely to commit fraud.  Even if the consumer is deemed highly unlikely to commit fraud we still might want to decline a transaction based on a device that is highly likely or card data that is highly likely to commit fraud.


There are some excellent techniques for validating consumer reputation.  To keep things simple, assume the same card data reputation and same device reputation are being used.  How would the reputation of the consumer be judged?  Imagine the ability to detect how fast the consumer types the card data during an eComm checkout and in what manner the keys on the keyboard or smartphone are being tapped.  Or with a smartphone leveraging the accelerometer to detect how the device is being held while the data is being entered.  There have even been applications built around authenticating a consumer to smart phones by leveraging gait analysis with the accelerometer.  In addition to these scenarios there are the obvious differentiators such as products purchased, day/times of purchase, amounts, etc. All of these examples create the cardholder or consumer reputation. Social media is also becoming an important consideration in establishing the reputation of a consumer.




The final piece of the reputation puzzle is the merchant: either eCommerce, brick and mortar, or both. The processing environment and merchant metadata are critical to establishing the processing reputation. The vertical that the merchant processes in the number of years in business, average ticket, business hours, and volume are all excellent indicators that help to establish a merchant’s reputation.  Taking this a step further, and differentiating from device reputation, consider a virus infecting a merchant’s back office computer but payment processing occurring from a dedicated payment terminal.  The device fingerprint, having no virus, might be highly unlikely to commit fraud but from a holistic merchant perspective having a virus on any computer or device within the merchant environment degrades the merchant's reputation score.  As with other properties discussed above each merchant property will be assigned a weight so that the reputation score does not over emphasize smaller attributes.  For example a fraud scoring algorithm might weight the number of years in business and average ticket higher than business hours.


"Bad boys, bad boys Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do, When they come for you"


There is no doubt that fraud occurs on a daily basis and if the data is correct, it is going to get worse before it gets better.  However, there is no reason to stick our heads in the sand.  There are tools out there for developers to manage fraud and leveraging the notion of reputation is an intriguing way to approach the issue.  We enjoy participating in the discourse from both theoretical and concrete approaches so please feel free to leave comments, or better yet, write an article on VantivONE to share with your peers engaging in the fraud conversation.  As always we look forward to hearing from you.


Hacking Hackathons

Posted by dourada Oct 17, 2016

We always enjoy the buildup to the Money2020 hackathon.  As you prepare to travel to Las Vegas this next week we thought we would share some advice on how to have your best experience ever.  Please feel free to add your comments/feedback!  See you soon and happy hacking!


What to do before the hackathon


  1. Have goals established before you arrive at the hackathon.  Your goals might trump any of the info we provide below so consider what you want out of the hackathon and then go get it!  If your goal is to meet new people at the event maybe you do not care so much about brainstorming ideas before arrival or forming a team prior to arrival.  But if you intend on going for the win try to prepare as much as you can before you arrive.  Maybe your top priority is winning, a second priority is learning a new skill, and a third priority is meeting new people.  Some of those goals might conflict but at least it gives you a base level of understanding and also helps you to evaluate yourself/your team after the event.
  2. Do not forget to have fun!
  3. Start brainstorming ideas early.  Specifically for the Money2020 hackathon read through the challenge statements a few times and get your team on the same page before you arrive.
  4. Form a team before you arrive.  If you need more people you can certainly find them when you arrive but if you already have a team and a plan in place you can get right to working on your product.
  5. Narrow down your list of "tools".  What programming language are you going to use?  Again these tools depend on your goals.  If you are trying to win then keeping with the tools that make you efficient is likely the best strategy but if your goal is to branch out and learn something new then obviously have that programming language or API in mind prior to arrival.
  6. What are your sleeping arrangements?  Will you sleep at all?  Or attempt to arrive Saturday morning, stay up all day/night, and leave Sunday evening?
  7. What are your fueling arrangements?  What are you going to eat and drink?  When?
  8. Have a plan for getting some fresh air and see something else in Las Vegas other than the hackathon ballroom.
  9. Do you have your travel scheduled and know where/when you are going?
  10. Specifically for the Vantiv challenge have you taken a look at the available APIs/SDKs?
  11. Do you know which hardware you would like to select?  Do you have a backup?
  12. Have you created your one minute video and posted to Vantiv O.N.E.?
  13. Read some of the blogs of the sponsoring companies you have selected, get to know what they do and who they are, it might come in handy.
  14. Seriously think about how you can change the world, it's possible, just get yourself into the right mindset.


What to do during the hackathon


  1. Talk to the sponsoring company reps, 24 hours is a great time get to know 3-4 of the teams.  Introduce yourself, tell them where you are sitting, and ask for help if/when you need it.
  2. Attend 1 or 2 sponsor breakout sessions.  This is a great time for a deep dive into the challenge you have selected, API specifics, and to ask the sponsors what they will be looking for during the two minute pitch.
  3. Integrate to at least 2 APIs and then make a decision later which one you will pitch.
  4. Start your presentation as early as possible.  Do not use a power point and try to memorize your 2 minute presentation.  Remember you only have 2 minutes to pitch so use it wisely.  Practice your pitch at least 10 times before giving it to the sponsoring company.  Leverage the sponsors for feedback early on, not just the sponsor you will be pitching to but all of them.  They are all there to help.
  5. Get some sleep at some point, always better to be a little on the rested side instead of a little on the fried side.
  6. Change clothes/brush teeth, makes you feel better and you'll pitch better.
  7. Do you have a plan for wifi backup/failure?
  8. Make sure to get your hardware if you are using it for the Vantiv challenge at 10am on Saturday.
  9. Have a backup to pitching with hardware.  Hardware is great but it's also difficult.  If your hardware breaks for whatever reason be able to pitch with a software only solution.
  10. Understand your solution does not need to be perfect.  Unless your biggest feature is database access skip all of the plumbing and hardcode data.  That said you still do need to pitch with a working prototype so you must have some code developed.
  11. Keep the goals of the hackathon in mind, keep reading how the judges are going to evaluate you (find that criteria on the Money2020 hackathon site).  The judges will obviously know when something is cool but they are also given guidelines on how to evaluate you.  Speak to those points.
  12. Walk around, get some fresh air, you are in Las Vegas.  At least checkout one fun thing while you're there.  You do not have to completely forget about the hackathon but take a walk and do some brainstorming while you are walking around.


What to do after the hackathon


  1. Write a blog post about your experience and share it via your sponsors social media channels.  It's good for you, it's good for them, it's good for the entire hackathon ecosystem.
  2. Connect with all of the people you met and form your network of fintech wizards.
  3. Claim your prize if you won and pay attention to the details.
  4. Evaluate how you/your team performed based on your goals established before the event.
  5. Give feedback to the organizers and challenge sponsors.  We love improvement and the best way to get that improvement is by direct feedback from the participants.  It also helps us demonstrate business value.  If you discover a bug in an API or can show how an API will be more efficient that is golden feedback!
  6. Keep changing the world with passion and fun!

Vantiv and the AARP GameJam

Posted by dourada Jul 20, 2016

Vantiv had the honor of sponsoring the inaugural AARP GameJam competition that concluded in June with a Shark Tank like pitch contest of three teams: Team Trainwreck from UCSC, Team Trilingual from George Mason University, and Team Puddin’ from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  Team Trainwreck prevailed and took home the $10,000 check for their game “Letters of Mystery", but the other two teams certainly challenged for the lead with their inventive games “Neighbors,” and “Furrow.”


Game Jam Finalists


As part of our sponsorship, our technology evangelists had the opportunity to mentor teams in the month before the final pitch session. Meeting new people and diving into the technology during these challenges is one of our favorite ways to engage the wider developer community.  There is so much that goes into these month long challenges, especially for students and people with full time jobs.  Juggling an additional full-time endeavor with their already busy daily lives was a constant struggle.  But they found a way, and came to the competition with highly entertaining and well thought out games.


The people that compete in these challenges are the exact type of people we want on our team at Vantiv.  Creative, focused, hard-working, able to prioritize and solve problems quickly.  Not to mention the ability to convey technical concepts in a bit of a stressful environment.


Why Vantiv

Did you know that Vantiv has an Entertainment Solutions division?  We serve gaming and entertainment markets including casinos, resorts, digital gaming, entertainment venues, digital licensed content, and more.  As part of our interest in and dedication to the gaming industry, we became an ESA Member.  One of our favorite perks of membership is participating in activities like the GameJam.  As technology evangelists,  we love supporting geeky/techie challenges of all sorts, and the GameJam was right up our alley.  Vantiv Entertainment Solutions will continue to build on the relationship with both AARP and ESA and look forward to future jams.  You bring the entertainment and we'll provide the payments.


What did we learn?

  • Set goals upfront.  With a limited amount of time, the ability to tap into hyper focus is imperative.  Is the goal to win the challenge or just build the best game?
  • Have a compelling story to tell as part of your pitch.
  • Practice, practice, practice....when pitching in a shark tank like contest, nailing your presentation is probably more important than the product demo.
  • Ask everyone and anyone if they will listen to your presentation and provide constructive feedback.  It's  hard to find people that will actually offer constructive criticism rather than a generic "that's a great idea."  Search out those that make your product/idea better.
  • Truly understand the persona of your audience and try to put yourself in their shoes.


For a full recap of the event visit the AARP site.


Innovation and RetailNOW

Posted by dourada Jul 19, 2016



RetailNOW 2016 is almost upon us and we cannot wait to gather in Dallas and reconnect with all of our existing partners and meet potential new partners.  Those notorious three little letters, EMV, are likely to provide some great conversation.  Security is always top of mind for Vantiv Integrated Payments, but EMV, end to end encryption, tokenization, and security in general are now ingrained in the industry.  A trend which we think is fantastic.


Now that the market has produced the first iteration of EMV products and solutions, we expect to start seeing products emerge with refined use cases like pay at table and better solutions for ISVs with specific software architectures.  We will demo some of these solutions.


In addition to feeding the EMV 'monster' we are also excited to showcase a few exciting technologies we have been working with in the "lab".  We believe that these technologies will eventually make their way into the channel and there is nothing better than taking a deep dive now and leading change vs. reacting to change.  We will keep the innovation demos a secret for now but envision:  augmented reality, virtual reality, telepresence robotics, voice first technologies, and blockchain technology.




With that I would like to introduce you to an overview of how the Vantiv O.N.E. team thinks about innovation.




Vantiv respects tradition, but we also know the world is changing at an incredible pace that requires constant attention to continuous improvement and building new traditions.  Our new traditions are built on a foundation of daily reflection and innovation.  We do not limit innovation to the latest and greatest technology toys; we are as exhilarated when we develop a new business process that saves us time as we are when developing a new product. Innovation is a team effort--we work across our organization to search out diverse backgrounds that add new perspectives.  We understand that many interesting discoveries are not found within a team but on the 'edges' where multiple teams bump into another or one product slides against another product.  These chaotic systems are where we find truth and we fully immerse ourselves in the fractals.  This innovation culture runs deep in our genes as a tech tribe and we want to share that culture as part of our open platform ecosystem.  Openness, tradition (old and new), and passion make us innovators and helps define Vantiv O.N.E.




How do you innovate?  What are you innovating?


We cannot wait to see you in a few weeks!

In May, the Vantiv team competed in a hackathon challenge sponsored by, aka the challenge.  The goal was to use the Amazon echo device to reimagine how customers interact with a commerce ecosystem.  It is a fascinating world we live in. Technology is moving so fast, and it was amazing to work with a Voice First technology platform.



The team consisted of software developers representing many different teams within Vantiv. We were graced with a few members of our product team, and technology evangelism would never miss a chance at innovating and meeting new people. The best part about challenges like this is the process and getting to know new people. It's a team building event injected with rocket fuel. 


The challenge kicked off in late April and ran through June first.  I am not sure how everyone did it, but month-long hackathons are challenging from both a logistical and time commitment perspective.  We are in one of the most important periods in the payments industry so our day jobs are obviously first priority, but innovation permeates our lives and we love opportunities to flex our creative minds.




What was our innovation?  We did not know all of the features of the Amazon Echo when we initially started brainstorming. We thought Alexa driving auctions like a true auctioneer would be a fun use case to work with.  As it turns out, it’s not possible to drive” the Echo. Instead, the Echo only responds to a user action.  But we decided to keep the auction idea and tried to re-imagine how users would interact with auctions with VoiceFirst technology. 




How did we do it?  First, we split into two teams, the A-team (Alexa) and the W-team (Web).  We thought there would be an easy line delineating the two different features:  (1) How a user would sign up to participate in and manage auctions, and (2) How a user interacts with the auction via Alexa.  After developing a beautiful website, we agreed to abandon implementing the plumbing that would connect the data entered via the website to the Alexa device itself, and instead decided to hard code most of the Alexa work. This allowed us to focus more on how Voice First or ZeroUI technologies function.




What were some of the fun things we learned? To make Alexa pronounce Vantiv correctly we had to add an “e” to the end of Vantiv. If you have two Amazon Echos you can make them talk to each other and answer questions. We also envisioned software deployment in the future by making Alexa build and deploy code to AWS with voice commands.


We were also able to incorporate some Vantiv technology into the challenge. The winning bidder can easily pay for their item via Vantiv's OmniToken technology which allows us to integrate to the Vantiv platform securely, capture customers’ credit card information, and make payments all without storing credit card data. Even in our innovation challenges, security is a first-class citizen.


The end result of the challenge is shown in the beautiful four-minute video above.  We had a blast, we hope everyone else had a blast, and we thank everyone who helped us. We would like to offer a specific thank you to the and Amazon teams that accompanied our hackathon team from the very beginning.


We look forward to participating in many more innovation challenges, but at the end of the day, innovation is business as usual at Vantiv.