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One of my takeaways from this year’s Retail IT VAR of the Future Conference was to read The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz. The book was recommended to me by Erick Wilson, the President/CEO of TEC Works, a growing managed services provider in Florida. When I asked Erick what was the key to the success of his business, he said this book turned everything around for him.


The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur is one half inspirational, one half practical on how to build and grow your business on a shoestring budget. It’s also filled with all sorts of cringe-worthy bathroom humor, but I’ve spared you of that in my notes below. 


Following are 21 insightful quotes from the book that can be applied to ISV organizations:


  1. Have you ever been doing your business with your pants hugging your ankles and, when you are ready to wrap things up, noticed that you are extremely low on toilet paper? The best option is to manage with what you've got.
  2. When we literally have no option to just get up and walk away, we find a way to get the job done.
  3. It's awe-inspiring how careful, thoughtful, and innovative we are when our supplies are scarce.
  4. The real deal of successful entrepreneurship is bloated with failures, drenched with progress, marred with mistakes, and peppered with major achievements.
  5. Always bet on the individual who is serving his calling, not the guy who is doing it for the money.
  6. Passion begets persistence.
  7. Excuses are a great mechanism to apply logic to our fears.
  8. Early entrepreneurial success is defined by surviving, not thriving.
  9. Once you define your values, document them in a way that sings with your soul.
  10. Starting a company is all about serving your needs, your beliefs, and your values first.
  11. Know your prospects better than any of your competitors and you will have an easier time finding them. Recognize that by knowing one group so well, you will not know other groups at all.
  12. You have a “super strength” that no one else will ever match: you care more about your business than anyone else.
  13. Area of innovation: What is the area where you just can't be touched? What specifically do customers rave about when they talk about you? This is your area of innovation, and you must commit to leading in this area for the life of your business.
  14. The familiarity of repeating past actions, albeit unsuccessful ones, can seem much safer than moving decisively down an unexplored path.
  15. Entrepreneurs who adhere to life principles and constantly adapt to elusive business dynamics experience enormous, lasting success.
  16. Properly executing a process is all about doing it first, then planning for it. The first time through is often best served with less planning and more doing.
  17. The devil is in the details, but you will have a devil of a time getting anything done the first go around if you fixate on them.
  18. The more mistakes you make, the more progress you're making. Just don't repeat the same mistakes.
  19. Mistakes are good, successes are great, and idleness is a sin.
  20. A lack of resources forces you to use ingenuity, a skill that will help you stay ahead of the pack for your entire run.
  21. Ideas don't make money; effort does.


If you’d like to talk more about The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and how to improve your ISV business, please reach out to me. My job as a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services is to work with Vantiv partners to help them with hiring right, developing staff professional development programs, improving customer service, and more.



For more On the Edge content, please visit the Vantiv Partner Advantage website.


Jim Roddy is a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services. He has been active in the POS channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as a Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) board member, and one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board. Jim is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences and he is author of the book Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer.


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Audrey Inniger is a campaign recruiting program specialist here at Vantiv. As college career fair season is about to kick off, I asked her what she loves about her job, and what advice she has for college students approaching recruiting tables at their college's job fair.


What’s your favorite thing about your job?

I love the variety; truly no day is the same! I experience the most variation in regards to the different groups with which I work. From current students to University career services to the business functions I support, there is a wide range of partners I encounter on a daily basis, who I am always learning from.


Also, I love the opportunity for growth throughout campus recruiting initiatives at Vantiv. As our campus recruiting programs are fairly young when compared to other organizations, this leaves room to experiment with new ideas in order to attract talent.


I know, I know – This is two favorites, but there is a lot to like about my role!


How did you get into HR?

Funny enough, I started my college career at Miami University (Go Redhawks!) believing I wanted to be a Speech Pathologist. After realizing the years of school required and the amount of tuition debt I’d accumulate, I stumbled upon an internship within Human Resources, as a Generalist. After my internship, I changed my major to Business Management & Leadership, with a focus in Human Resources. As I had several mentors from my first internship through Miami University, my mentors advised me to begin my Human Resources career within Talent Acquisition. I took their advice and began my fulltime career hiring in-house talent for a small PR and Marketing software company. Through this position, I was asked to build a campus recruiting program, which I enjoyed immensely.  In February 2016, I joined Vantiv and the rest is history!


What are some tips for college students or recent graduates looking to stand out at a job fair?

Showcase what makes you, YOU. The best and most memorable conversations I have are those in which the student talks about their passions, interests, and quirks. Enjoy skydiving? Have a passion for cooking international fare? Rap music enthusiast? Tell me about it! Highlighting those characteristics will make you most memorable at the career fair and will spark a more natural relaxed conversation.


Do you have any advice for college students or recent graduates on acing their first interview?

Do your homework, which includes homework on the company, on the people you are interviewing with, on the city where the role is located. LinkedIn should be your best friend!


Once you’ve done your homework, prepare thoughtful questions to ask the recruiter or hiring manager in which you are interviewing.


Can you do a little “myth-busting” on any career advice you’ve heard dispensed that is flat-out wrong?

“Accept the highest paying job offer.”


Money doesn’t buy happiness. Although salary is one factor to consider, also consider the company culture, your team (especially your direct manager), as well as career advancement opportunities.


Want to know when Vantiv will be recruiting at your college or university? Click here for a list of our upcoming career fairs.

To say that application architectures are evolving quickly is an understatement. In the age of cloud, mobile apps and back-end services can simply never go down.  Developers are increasingly turning to scalable, resilient micro-service architectures based on Docker containers as a preferred way of building applications.


Stats from the last DockerCon 2017 event in Austin shine a light on the pace of change.  Today there are more than 14M Docker hosts and more than 900K Docker apps.  In just the last three years there has been a 77,000% increase in Docker job listings and a 390,000% increase in Docker image pulls.  Payments are often a feature of cloud-delivered application services including mobile apps, online gaming, and new types of interactive voice-activated services.  As a result, developers of payment-enabled applications are getting swept up in this enormous shift.


The Case for containerized applications

Among the reasons that developers favor containers is that they promote modular design, code reuse, unit testing and lend predictability to application deployments.  If my application needs a database, key-value store, and a web-tier, rather than deploy hardware or a VM, I can simply pull Docker images of MariaDB, Redis or NGINX, add my application logic and publish my own derived Docker containers to my favorite registry. I can rapidly wire together these containers into an application comprised of multiple service tiers using a lightweight YAML (yet-another markup language) specification and publish a complex, multi-tier application to a containerized orchestration environment in seconds.  The explosion of interest Docker and containers has ushered in a revolution in how applications are built and deployed. Today there are dozens of container management platforms supporting these types of applications including Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, Amazon ECS, Azure Container Service, Google Container Engine, Mesos Marathon and more.


Payment applications pose unique challenges

In this brave new world, containerized services are ephemeral, can scale up and down dynamically, and are placed on Docker hosts based on run-time conditioners by sophisticated schedulers.  Application administrators often lack visibility to what VMs their services are executing on not to mention the cloud or physical host.  These environments pose unique challenges for both Docker users and assessors when it comes to PCI DSS compliance.  A discussion of securing Dockerized applications is too big a topic to address here, but a challenge that developers invariably face is how to securely make secrets like payment API credentials available to application logic inside a Docker container.


Enter Secret Management

This challenge of managing secrets is not unique to payments. Secret Management solutions have existed for years for Software Configuration Management (SCM) tools like Puppet, Chef, and Ansible.  What makes Secret Management challenging for containerized applications are issues of scale, the breadth of public cloud providers and the sheer rapidity with applications evolve.


To explain the issue, imagine we have a cloud-resident component in a Docker container that needs to call one of Vantiv’s end points on behalf of a merchant.  The challenge is how to get the credentials to the application securely.  The credentials can’t reside in the Docker image itself, or they would be visible to anyone, and all instances of the application would share the same credentials.  Similarly, they can’t reside in a YAML specification that is accessible to anyone on GitHub. We might have the idea of encrypting the credential and passing it to the container, but then the question becomes how do we distribute and protect the key needed to decrypt the payload holding the credential? If we attempt to pass the key across an encrypted channel, we still have the problem of passing additional keys needed to secure the channel. It’s a challenging problem. Dan Somerfield of ThoughtWorks describes this “bootstrapping” problem generically in his talk titled Turtles All the Way Down.  What’s needed is a secure way to pass payment credentials in a fashion that is cloud provider agnostic.


Securing Payment Credentials in Containerized Applications

Because Docker containers are all in the rage in cloud deployments right now, I wanted to look at this problem in the context of Docker.  As with so many areas of technology, there is not a single solution for secret management; there are literally dozens (partial list here).  In the world of container orchestration frameworks, however, industry consolidation is taking place and leaders are starting to emerge. Kubernetes (open-sourced by Google) is enjoying considerable enthusiasm followed by Docker Swarm, followed by the big cloud providers with their container management and secret management solutions. (Google’s GKE uses Kubernetes, formerly known as Google Borg). If you learn the approach used by Kubernetes, the good news is that you can address a large number of container orchestration frameworks and cloud services that use Kubernetes as their foundation (list here).


For developers or operations folks who want to get their feet wet with Kubernetes secret management, I’ve developed an end-to-end example showing how secret-management in Kubernetes can be used to pass payment credentials used by Vantiv’s eCommerce platform securely.  You can find this example in our Vantiv Labs area in Vantiv O.N.E.


If you’re interested in learning more about securely managing payment credentials in Kubernetes, check out the explanation and example here.  I’d love to get feedback and learn how developers are managing secrets in your applications.

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Lena Rutherford, intern extraordinaire, is a student at Miami University. This summer she interned at Vantiv's Denver office. I chatted with Lena about her internship here and what her plans are for her (bright!) future:


What are you studying in school, and what do you hope to do for your career?

I am majoring in Business Analytics and minoring in Arts Entrepreneurship. I love this combination because I am very balanced between my left and right brain. I hope this combination will give me the tools to measure ambiguous things through applying data analytics to value creation in the arts.


I want to have several careers, beginning with data analytics (perhaps in the technology consulting field), building into more strategic and creative roles that are infused with data, pivoting into starting my own company (or companies), and ending in venture capital. I hope that the skill sets I continue to develop in data analysis and business strategy will propel me to diverse roles and companies throughout the technology industry and the world.


What have you learned during your internship?

Coming from a startup last summer, Vantiv has taught me how corporations function and has given me a new appreciation for how standardization aligns diverse products and people. I have learned about the industry through PI planning, product meetings, and projects.


Creating a competitive analysis matrix for PayFac and researching industry verticals and horizontals for a strategy presentation deepened my industry knowledge through hands-on experience. More closely related to my major, I have learned about financial data through conducting a historical analysis of IP equipment data and by reconstructing financial models.


My internship has taught me as much about myself as it has about the business world – how I work best, how I form business relationships, and how to achieve work/life balance (despite a 45-minute commute). These are only a few things that I have learned, but there are many more things that I am grateful to my coworkers and this opportunity for teaching me.


What will you take with you from Vantiv?

Of course, I will take this experience and the professional relationships I've made with me. The subtle, everyday things I have done here have accumulated into this nebulous term, “experience.” I am thankful for what a rich and positive experience it has been and for how I will be able to build off of my experience wherever my career takes me next.


I have also formed great relationships with my coworkers and want to continue these relationships after my internship ends. I have greatly enjoyed getting to know the abundance of friendly people here at Vantiv and will miss seeing everyone daily.


We'll miss seeing Lena around the office, but we wish her all the best for this school year and beyond.

Lena and Lydia for web.png


Want to intern at Vantiv or just learn more about us? Vantiv will be at recruiting events at several colleges and universities this fall, including Miami University (so we can say hi to Lena). Come see us.


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.

I just returned from RetailNOW 2017, held Aug. 6-9 at Paris Las Vegas, and one of the words being thrown around the expo floor was “disruption.” Traditional point of sale resellers and ISVs are concerned about cloud POS, payment security requirements, and new entrants disrupting their current business model. With that as a background, I think it’s timely to review the lessons shared by author/serial entrepreneur Jay Samit in his book Disrupt You!


Before we dive into specific quotes, let’s look at the book’s subtitle: “Seize Opportunity and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation.” Disrupt You! turns around the concept of disruption, imploring business leaders to play offense and use disruption to reshape their business before the world morphs into a place where your value proposition is irrelevant.


I mentioned Disrupt You! during my RetailNOW presentation “18 Ways Leading POS Resellers Provide Superior Value To Their Merchants” because endless innovation is the key to offering superior value. Following are 36 insightful quotes from the book that can be applied to ISV organizations:


  1. To stay relevant, you must keep your career in permanent beta. That means committing to a lifetime of learning and professional growth, a lifetime of strategic adaptation.
  2. Every successful disruptor must be willing to destroy their concepts and pivot their energies before the market can render their business obsolete.
  3. A technology or product is disruptive when it creates an entirely new market, consumer base, or user and destroys or displaces the market for the technology it replaced. Email disrupted postal mail, Wikipedia disrupted the traditional multivolume bound encyclopedia.
  4. Being successful as a disruptor is about applying your unique experience and viewpoint to find opportunity.
  5. This success was not the result of my having invented a new technology. Instead, I used an existing technology to disrupt a different business.
  6. An “intrapreneur” disrupts from within the corporation, rather than waiting for the company to be attacked by external forces.
  7. Incremental innovation is like walking on quicksand: it will keep you very busy but won’t get you very far.
  8. Self-disruption is akin to undergoing major surgery, but you are the one holding the scalpel.
  9. By visualizing each step of your journey, you’re actually getting your mind prepared to handle the opportunity.
  10. Our lives and careers are determined by our acceptance or rejection of our perceived limitations.
  11. The most successful people have the same 24 hours in a day that you do. The only difference is that they take control of their time. What daily indulgences might you be willing to give up in pursuit of your dreams? 
  12. So much of self-disruption is making deliberate choices in your life instead of running on autopilot.
  13. “It’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change, you’re the one who has got to change.”
  14. “Map out your future – but do it in pencil.”
  15. You can’t achieve dreams you don’t have.
  16. The adage that the master appears when the student is ready to learn is true only if you make the effort to seek out advice.
  17. Great big dinosaurs will always be too busy competing against other big dinosaurs to pay attention to the disruptor.
  18. You don’t have to know where the road ends to start on your journey. You just have to know the direction in which you want to travel.
  19. The customer will always find a way to get what he wants, even if the traditional supplier won’t comply.
  20. Be fearless when you know survival is at stake. Anything less is corporate suicide. Disrupt or be disrupted. There is no middle ground.
  21. It is not incumbent on the world to conform to your vision of change. It is up to you to explain the future in terms that those living in the past and present can follow.
  22. The faster you can kill the bad ideas, the quicker you can pivot to the successful one. When you finally find the one idea that can’t be killed, go with it.
  23. Disruptors are simply problem solvers.
  24. Problems are just businesses waiting for the right entrepreneur to unlock the value.
  25. Test, verify, and adjust is the only way to stay on course. Data has no ego and makes an excellent copilot.
  26. Pivoting before going broke is the cardinal rule for startup survival.
  27. Data is the most rational and productive member of any startup team. Invite data to as many planning meetings as you can. Data may disappoint, but it never lies.
  28. Just as Jesus had his apostles, you need to find a dozen consumers who are in your target demographic and bounce your ideas off them.
  29. Most startup failures result from entrepreneurs who are better at making excuses than products.
  30. Disruptors don’t have to discover something new; they just have to discover a practical use for new discoveries.
  31. No amount of capital can buy a long-term competitive advantage. “The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition.”
  32. Customer service should be thought of as marketing, because it influences how customers feel about your company.
  33. My theory was that by having all of our team in the position of speaking directly with our customers, we would build better software.
  34. “True disruption means threatening your existing product line and your past investments. Breakthrough products disrupt current lines of businesses.”
  35. History doesn’t remember those who maintained the status quo.
  36. No obstacle is so big that one person with determination can’t make a difference.


If you’d like to talk more about Disrupt You! and how to improve your ISV business, please reach out to me. My job as a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services is to work with Vantiv partners to help them with hiring right, developing staff professional development programs, improving customer service, and more.



For more On the Edge content, please visit the Vantiv Partner Advantage website.


Jim Roddy is a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services. He has been active in the POS channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as a Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) board member, and one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board. Jim is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences and he is author of the book Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer.

Small and mid-size merchants have some big decisions to make with EMV that will have an immediate impact on their business. It is imperative that we help them get it right the first time. Simply put, EMV is not just another payment method, it is a driving demand for better security features within the POS, opening up more avenues for technology and forcing habits to be broken.


Security is knocking at the door

Security seems to be leading the conversations around EMV, but EMV alone does not solve the infestation of criminal activity. Sixty percent of small businesses go out of business within 6 months after a data breach, and 71% of data breaches target small business (National Cyber Security Alliance, August 2014). As a trusted partner to our merchants, we need to help close the gap in all areas around data theft. It is well known that EMV technology has been around for more than a decade, but criminals have not stopped, instead they target other vulnerabilities.


How we can we help you become more secure?

I will outline a proactive approach to help our customers. The first objective is to remove sensitive data from the payment application entirely. Vantiv offers both point-to-point encryption and tokenization. Enabling these features within your payment application renders data unusable from the point it is accepted to the time it rests. Next is training and not just at the merchant level, but security training awareness for merchants, Value added resellers and Point of sale developers. A simple program that reviews the basics and teaches employees what to look out for goes a long way in protecting everyone’s best interest (protecting card data). Finally, ensure checks and balances are in place. We all make mistakes, but sometimes they can be costly. Placing two or more people in charge of security helps reduce mistakes and keeps unintended or intended consequences from arising.


EMV...paving a path for the future

As I mentioned earlier, EMV is having a spiral effect on the industry. Most merchants are planning on updating to EMV capable solutions. But it shouldn’t stop with EMV. Payment applications need to be built for the future. The mobile frenzy has already launched, but the adoption is just starting to make its presence and enabling your payment application to support features like Apple Pay and Android Pay help drive long term success. With more adoption in the mobile market, merchants will be looking to capitalize on every opportunity. One challenge Vantiv has solved for is linking eCommerce with other channels to provide the ultimate OmniCommerce experience. According to recent Vantiv/Mercator Insight Series research, mobile devices are not only opening new channels for consumer interactions, but they are also changing the way that consumers behave in all channels.


Change is unavoidable

There is no doubt about it, EMV will force new habits and retire the old. Americans have become accustomed to doing things quickly, fast food restaurants, 10 minute abs, self-checkout and more. Restaurants will most likely see the greatest changes to their environment. EMV is designed to keep the card in the consumer’s hand. Integrating with Vantiv will enable payment applications to utilize tokenization to add gratuities, eliminating that awkward moment when the consumer has to add the tip in front of the server. What about bar tabs? EMV requires the consumer to confirm the amount during the authorization, eliminating a convenience we are all use to. For EMV to be gracefully accepted, we need it to be successful both at the consumer and merchant level. Providing a merchant with just an EMV solution will not work in today’s fast environment. Enabling NFC technology, Omnicommerce and tokenization are three tools that Vantiv provides creating a balance for both the consumer and merchant.




With all this talk of bitcoin scaling, the August 1st bitcoin network fork, segwit, segwit2x, BCC, BTC and other general craziness going on in the bitcoin space... and the competing incentives between bitcoin miners and bitcoin users, I've been looking under the hood to get a better understanding of what is really going on.

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TLDR; Bitcoin is splitting into two coins (BTC & BCC) because of competing incentive structures pitting one group of miners against core developers. The miners fork called BCC (Bitcoin Cash) will have 8 MB block sizes allowing for more transaction throughput, but will not enable off-network payment channels. Core developers fork is based on SegWit2x, which will increase throughput and also enable the lightning network payment channel that lays the ground work for very low cost off-chain transactions. The community at large seems to be behind BTC/SegWit and many people have suggested BCC will not get enough miners on their side to survive, but only time will tell.

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One way to think about bitcoin that is helpful in understanding the current affairs is this: bitcoin is a collection of individuals who have all decided to have the computers that they control run the same code (network protocol) that keeps track of who owns which bitcoins. There are miners who do work to process each transaction and cryptographically secure the network and get paid fees and block rewards for doing this work. There are users (represented by the bitcoin core developers) who execute transactions on the network. Each computer (miner and user) that participates in the network has it's own copy of all the transactions that have ever happened, this is why the technology can generally be referred to as decentralized ledger technology (DLT).

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This copy of all transactions that have ever happened is called the bitcoin-blockchain. The code/network protocol that each of the computers run has a set of rules that everyone agrees upon that decide how new transactions are written to the bitcoin-blockchain. As long as the network agrees that a transaction is valid, then, the transaction is written to the bitcoin-blockchain, distributed to each node, and is forever held as a true/non-contestable transaction, this feature is called transaction immutability. Due to the growing popularity of bitcoin, the technology has been having growing pains and the network protocol needs to be updated in order to handle more transaction throughput and reduce transaction fees.

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The competing ideas for how to scale the network illuminate the careful balance of incentives that the original implementation of bitcoin created that has enabled the bitcoin network to continue to grow and become a stable and secure place to store value. At the time of this writing, there is around $40 billion dollars of value stored in bitcoin. For miners, they would like to have the solution based upon larger block sizes - BCC will fork bitcoin and start mining 8 MB blocks on August 1st. That means that each new block in the BCC blockchain is able to hold more transactions, thereby increasing transaction throughput. Because miners make money by writing transactions into blocks, this direction to scale the network is preferred by these miners because they are able to continue to collect transaction fees because all transactions will be written to a block. For users, and the bitcoin core developers, they are moving towards what is called SegWit2x. This is a combination of a proposal called Segregated Witness with the promise to increase block size to 2 MB in the near future.

bitcoin lightning network.png

What is interesting about the segregated witness solution is that it enables payment channels, specifically in bitcoin, called the lightning network. Payment channels allow for the creation of off-chain transactions that can be very low to zero-cost. This has the potential to allow for online micro-transactions and small transactions which could lead to broader interest by merchants to accept this as a form of payment because of the lower transaction fees. Payment channels are very promising and there is a lot of research and development going into building out use-cases.


Payment channels reduce fees because the only time a transaction is written to the blockchain is when you open and close a payment channel. A payment channel can be opened between 2 or more parties by having at least one of those parties lock funds into the channel. Once the payment channel is open, the parties conduct transactions with those locked funds among themselves that are instantaneous and have zero transaction fees. One very interesting aspect of payment channels is that they can be networked together to form a chain of transactions between parties that do not directly have a channel open between them, but are connected via a network of open payment channels. For example, if I have a payment channel open with Dan, and Dan has a payment channel open with Josh, Josh and I can transact with each other by using Dan as an intermediary payment channel even though Josh and I do not have a payment channel open between us. Payment channels are a very promising area of research for crypto-currencies and this may be the path that we see being followed that will allow for low cost transactions, online micro-payments, and low dollar amount retail transactions between parties whether they be P2P, B2B, B2C, or C2B. Once a payment channel is closed, the value of all transactions conducted within that channel is settled on the blockchain.


For a really good technical deep-dive on how payment channels work, I highly recommend these videos.


Jackson Palmer runs it down in 15 minutes: what are payment channels? (eg. the lightning network) - YouTube

Technical deep dive on the lighting network: SF Bitcoin Devs Seminar: Scaling Bitcoin to Billions of Transactions Per Day - YouTube


Lightning network white paper:

For more information on the bitcoin payment channel lightning network: Lightning Network

Payment channels on the Ethereum network: Raiden Network


Thank you for taking the time to read this post, please leave any questions or comments below!

They say if you love what you’ll do, you’ll never work a day in your life…


wave-payment-facilitator-payfac-vantiv.jpgUnfortunately, that’s only one part of the equation that many small business owners consider when starting up their own business.


Each year, more and more crafters and makers are ditching their corporate jobs to pursue their personal passions by starting up their own micro-businesses.  These include everything from hair stylists to bakers, consultants, and more. Consumers are drawn to them because of their agility and greater ability to offer a much more personalized service.


Starting up a microbusiness is a thrilling endeavor, albeit bittersweet upon learning that there’s more to running a successful business than simply being exceptional at a particular craft.  Fast forward to fruition, these impassioned artisans find themselves working extremely late nights, sleep deprived, family lives compromised and far too often less passionate about their craft than when they started. 


Sadly, this is often the way the story unfolds; the administrative, operational and financial demands of running a business overcomes the owner with overwhelming demand.


Vantiv Payment Facilitator (or PayFac ™) Wave, is not just empowering small business owners; in a sense, they are helping to preserve their passion… and their sanity, so that they can continue to do more of what they love.

The payroll, accounting, and even payment acceptance all add up (among other things) and put a hefty toll on the demands of all business owners.  Enter Wave, whose free software nicely takes that burden away, allowing small business owners to do more of what they love and less of what keeps them away from their personal lives.


Learn more in this month’s Developer Tracker, powered by Vantiv.


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It's Vantiv ONE's birthday! We're celebrating with five days of fun for the TechTribe, including contests, a Twitter takeover, a webinar with our buddies at Microsoft, and more.

Check out what mcafiero and I are looking forward to this week:


1. Counting the costs

Whether you’re a merchant or ISV, cost of payment acceptance is always a consideration.  Pricing models can vary with some gateways offering percentage-based fees and others offering interchange plus rate structures. One approach is not necessarily better than the other, but pennies per transaction can add up fast. Check into fee structures carefully, and make sure you thoroughly understand the costs.


2. Authorization success rates

While cost is important, the percentage of successfully authorized transactions can be even more important. If a significant percentage of purchases result in improper declines, you’re basically turning away business. This is an area where not all gateways are created equal.


3. Type of bank account and deposit schedules

For serious merchants, a proper business merchant bank account is recommended. If you’re small, and new to eCommerce however, some gateways allow funds to be deposited into existing bank accounts. Understanding the nature of bank accounts required, their costs, and how quickly funds are available is important for any business.


4. Support for card present applications

When people think about payment gateways, they often think in terms of eCommerce or Mobile payments.  In fact, some gateways handle card present, point of sale solutions as well.  For retailers, in-store sales are often much greater than on-line sales.  To avoid fragmenting volume across providers, and to provide a seamless experience in-store, in-app and over the web, a gateway that supports both in-store and eCommerce transactions may be preferred.


5. Ease of integration

Whether you’re an ISV, are integrating to a gateway yourself, or are relying on a third-party for a pre-built solution, ease of integration is important. If integrations are difficult or require significant ongoing maintenance, costs are passed on to merchant in the form of higher fees. Selecting a well-supported gateway with a good developer experience will pay dividends down the road.


6. Throughput & performance

Merchants often don’t think about performance, but this is another area where mileage can vary. The further a gateway is from a major payment processor, the more network “hops”, and the longer transactions may take.  In the age of mobile apps and “tap to pay” at busy quick-serve establishments, seconds count.  Consumers and merchants want efficiency, and performance can affect the bottom line.


7. Security, encryption and PCI scope

With an abundance of cyber threats, strong security is now table stakes.  Merchants simply demand it because the cost of a breach has become unacceptable. For developers and ISVs however, delivering strong security can come at a cost.  Developers should look for payment gateways with strong security capabilities both online and in-store. These include encryption, tokenization, EMV support, and software approaches that help them reduce PA-DSS scope by avoiding the need to handle cardholder data. If gateways support strong security features, developers can save time and certification costs, and will be able to pass savings on to their merchants.


8. Multi-currency support

For US merchants selling internationally, multi-currency support can be a plus. While merchants can always accept international cards, and settle payments in US dollars, foreign consumers often prefer to shop in their own currency rather than be surprised by sometimes excessive exchange rates.  While not essential for international sales, multi-currency support can help online merchants improve conversions and boost revenue.


9. Breadth of processors and payment methods supported

There are many types of payment gateways. Some have affinities to particular banks, and others to specific methods of payment.  Merchants and developers should look for a gateway that supports the broadest range of payment methods including in-store payments and various mobile wallets. If a gateway can support multiple payment processors as well, this is a bonus because it provides added flexibility for merchants.


To Learn more about payment gateways and how they can impact your business, download our free whitepaper, Is Your Payment Gateway Right for your Business?

I first heard about The Ideal Team Player during a podcast interview with author Patrick Lencioni and thought to myself, “Hmmm … maybe I should add that to my reading list.” Then I discovered that two of the most respected VAR/ISV hybrid companies in our industry highly recommend The Ideal Team Player – one owner said it’s required reading for his management team – so I bought a copy right away.


The book includes valuable concepts and simple-to-apply techniques for identifying, hiring, and managing people to become better teammates. It’s divided into two parts – a fable about a small business followed by details about the Ideal Team Player model.


Following are 29 insightful quotes from The Ideal Team Player that apply to ISV organizations:


  1. Some people are better at being team players. They're not born that way, but either through life experiences, work history, or a real commitment to personal development, they come to possess the three underlying virtues that enable them to be ideal team players: they are humble, hungry, and smart.
  2. Defining the three virtues. Humble: Humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player. Hungry: Hungry people are always looking for more. More things to do. More to learn. More responsibility to take on. Smart: Smart refers to a person’s common sense about people.
  3. When a team member lacks one or more of these three virtues, the process of building a cohesive team is much more difficult than it should be, and in some cases, impossible.
  4. These three qualities are to teamwork what speed, strength, and coordination are to athletics — they make everything else easier.
  5. A real team player is the kind of person who can easily build trust, engage in healthy conflict, make real commitments, hold people accountable, and focus on the team's results.
  6. Hire people who are hungry, people who go beyond what is required, who are passionate about the work they're doing.
  7. If even one of the qualities is missing in a big way, you've got yourself a jackass.
  8. We want to be an odd company, in a good kind of way. People who don't fit should think we're a little strange.
  9. Most training and development comes down to how much a person wants to change.
  10. I refer to these as “virtues” because the word virtue is a synonym for the nouns quality and asset, but it also connotes the idea of integrity and morality.
  11. In some people, hunger can be directed in a selfish way that is not for the good of the team but for the individual.
  12. Healthy hunger is a manageable and sustainable commitment to doing a job well and going above and beyond when it is truly required.
  13. Smart people just have good judgment and intuition around the subtleties of group dynamics and the impact of their words and actions.
  14. Humble, hungry, and smart weren't necessarily core values, but they were critical hiring and developmental criteria for any organization that wanted teamwork to be central to its operations.
  15. Could a person fully practice the five behaviors at the heart of teamwork (trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results) if he or she didn't buy into the idea of being humble, hungry, and smart? The answer was a resounding no.
  16. By doing thorough interviewing and selective reference checking, a manager can hire people with a high degree of confidence that they'll be ideal team players.
  17. Hiring best practices: Don't be generic: Too many interviews are so generic that they provide little or no insight into specific attributes.
  18. Debrief each interview as a team: Interviews should debrief quickly after each interview, specifically around observations related to humility, hunger, and people smarts.
  19. Make interviews nontraditional: I like to get out of the office with the candidate and see him deal with people in an unstructured environment.
  20. Ask questions more than once: If you're not sold on the response, ask in a more specific way, and you will often get a more honest answer.
  21. Ask candidates to do some real work: Give a simulated work project. See how people perform in real-world situations so you can discern whether they are humble, hungry, and smart.
  22. Don't ignore hunches: If you have a doubt, don't ignore it. Keep probing. Assuming that a person has the virtues of a team player is a bad idea.
  23. Scare people with sincerity: One of my favorite ways to ensure that I'm hiring people who are humble, hungry, and smart is to come right out and tell them that these are requirements for the job.
  24. Knowing whether a person has people smarts is difficult to discern by asking a specific question. What is more important is observing her general behavior during an interview process and the way she answers questions.
  25. Perhaps the most important question that interviewers can ask to ascertain whether a candidate is smart is one that they should ask themselves: Would I want to work with this person every day?
  26. While this tool is quantitative, the real value will be found in the qualitative, developmental conversations among team-members and their managers.
  27. The most important part of the development process, and the part that is so often missing, is the leader’s commitment to constantly reminding an employee if she is not yet doing what is needed.
  28. Ideal, in the context of this book, does not mean perfect.
  29. Great cultures tend to be appropriately intolerant of certain behaviors, and great teams should be quick and tactful in addressing any lack of humility, hunger, and people smarts.


In addition to the wisdom in the book, Lencioni provides free assessment tools and other supporting information through his company’s website:


If you’d like to talk more about The Ideal Team Player and how to improve your ISV business, please reach out to me. My job as a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services is to work with Vantiv partners to help them with hiring right, developing staff professional development programs, improving customer service, and more. Just drop me a line at and we can set up a time to talk.



For more On the Edge content, please visit the Vantiv Partner Advantage website.


Jim Roddy is a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services. He has been active in the POS channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as a Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) board member, and one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board. Jim is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences and he is author of the book Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer.

If you are curious to start learning how smart contracts work, this blog post takes you through the steps I've taken to register a domain name using a decentralized app (dApp) running on the Ethereum network.


You may want to register a .eth web domain name so that your site lives and breathes the Ethereum network.  In order to do this, you can install the Metamask chrome plugin.  This is an Ethereum wallet that plugs into your web browser and makes it possible to interact with Ethereum enabled websites (dApps), such as the one where you bid on .eth domain names.


Get Metamask here: MetaMask


It is important to note here that securing your Metamask wallet account is very important.  If you lose you password and pass-phrase, you will not be able to get back into your account and any funds in the account will be lost forever. This is one of the effects of using a de-centralized network, there is no central authority that holds your account and can help you recover a lost account, the account is a feature of the network and you are solely responsible for the security of your account!


With that said, after creating a wallet account in Metamask, you will need to put Ethereum into the newly created wallet. I already have a Coinbase account with some Ethereum in it, so it was very easy to scan the QR code on Metamask with my Coinbase app and send some money to the Metamask wallet.


If you don't have a Coinbase wallet you can sign up for one here: Buy/Sell Digital Currency - Coinbase


We strongly recommend that you use 2-factor authentication with your Coinbase account, and the most secure method is a validator app, such as Google Validator.


If you would like to send me some Ethereum, here is the QR code for my Metamask account!


Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 12.15.59 PM.png


Now you should be all set up and have some Ethereum in your Metamask wallet.  Now to register a domain name on .eth, browse to the registration dApp.


Registering domains is governed by a smart-contract.  This is how the decentralized Internet works that is very different from the traditional web.  The rules of registering a domain are governed by smart-contract code, and there is no central authority, business, or entity that holds the contract for the domain once you enter into the smart-contract.  It's explained really well on the registration dApp site, so read here for more details:


Once you have found a domain name that you want to register, you will need to place a bid, this is really exciting because this is probably your first time executing a smart-contract that is running on the Ethereum network and writing the transaction state to the Ethereum blockchain, when I did this the first time I thought it was really cool and a bit like reaching out and touching the future!  Here is what it will look like when you execute the transaction in Metamask.


Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 1.20.34 PM.png


If you look closely at the Metamask plugin, you will see that a transaction record is kept for each of the transactions that you have made.


Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 1.30.17 PM.png


Bly clicking on one of those transactions, it will take you to the details of that transaction on the blockchain.  For example, here is the link to my very first ever smart-contract when I registered my first ethereum domain tonyrose.eth.



Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 1.32.56 PM.png


Feel free to browse to my transaction and leave me a note in the comments section!


Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 1.32.35 PM.png


Ok, that is it for this blog post.  On my next post I am going to explore developing a simple web-site with a basic smart-contract running on it.  Stay tuned for more!

If you're looking to level up in your developer knowledge during your commute, or have a road trip coming up and want to binge listen to something new, we recommend giving one of these podcasts a try. Do you have a favorite coder cast? Let us know in the comments!


The podcast that's like a happy hour with your smartest coworkers:

Front End Happy Hour

Front End Happy Hour is a five-star rated panel-style podcast that features software engineers from Netflix, Evrnote, Atlassian and LinkedIn talking over drinks about all things Front End Development, from starting a new job to style guide best practices.


For great stories from coders:


The CodeNewbie podcast is for (as the title says) coding n00bs. Host Saron Yitbarek interviews a different guest each week, and they discuss their coding journey, how they got their first coding gif, and more. We really liked the recent episode "Mental Health talks from Michelle Morales and Greg Baugues". Michelle, a researcher and web developer at the Futures Initiative, talked about using open source tools to better diagnoze depression, and Greg, the Manager of Twilio's Developer Community shared his personal struggles with ADHD and bipolar disorder.


For great interviews:

Away From the Keyboard

Away from the Keyboard is a five-star rated podcast that talks to technology experts and tells their stories of how they started, how they grew, how they learned, and how they unwind. It’s hosted by two software developers: Cecil Phillip and Richie Rump. We dig it because you'll hear everything from business insights to info on home brewing.


For education and tech news:

Software Engineering Radio - The Podcast for the Professional Software Developers

Software Engineering Radio is an educational podcast for professional developers. The 1 on 1 interview-style episodes cover everything from new tech and hot topics in the software industry to the philosophy behind web development frameworks. This is great for techies who want to stay on top of tech trends, and who love a deep technical dive into software engineering topics.

Every month, Vantiv and team up to deliver the latest news in developer spaces. Here’s the overview of the Developer Tracker published in June 2017.


apple-pay-and-omnichannel.jpgIn the growing pursuit of health and longevity, and any of the facets with which they encompass, success within the health industry no longer relies on great products alone.   Health and wellness companies must possess a greater understanding of their customers beyond the product itself, who now desire a truly personalized experience; from the products that meet their specific needs, the channels of communication they prefer, to the experience that defines their transactions.


The greatest challenge for any new company in this industry is having the broader intuition and all-encompassing understanding of their target market.  Much of NutraClick's success can be attributed to their customer-centric approach, both from a product standpoint to a more widespread understanding of consumer behavior.


June's Developer TrackerTM provides business leaders from all industries with an omnichannel case-study that we can all learn from in today's evolving world of payments.


The most profound of NutraClick's strategy is the simple concept to zig where others zag.  Most health product companies tend to follow a predictable strategy upon getting to market; often this strategy includes elaborate photo shoots with sponsored athletes in an effort to influence with images that are assumed to inspire the masses.  NutraClick took a different approach, and decided to instead focus on the buying behaviors of their target market and make the purchasing experience more appealing and convenient. 


That, and a more sincere effort to help their buyers reach their specific wellness goals are some of the ways that NutraClick broke free from the status quo marketing in their industry, to create a more loyal culture of customers.  One particular initiative includes the integration of Apple Pay, both online and in-app. 


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