Entrust Datacard: Empower issuers worldwide - Sebastien Tormos

In the rapidly changing business environment, it's important that banks ensure customers can use payment cards securely and safety while at the same time optimising user experience. Director for mobile solutions at Entrust Datacard Sebastien Tormos discusses how card issuers can help banks and consumers optimise security and how his company is keeping up with new technology.

Innovations in how customers use financial products and services are revolutionising the way banks do business. But from online and mobile-based solutions to the shift towards paperless accounts and automated customer service, moving into these new areas brings with it complex new security and authentication problems.

In no area is this more important than the field of card issuance, and banks must increasingly take much greater steps to ensure that their customers can use their products safely and securely.

Minnesota-based company Entrust Datacard has been working to secure identities and safeguard transactions since 1969, providing card-issuance systems for some of the world's largest financial institutions including Citibank, Barclays and HSBC among others, as well as governments and insurance companies. With Entrust Datacard technology, everything from ID cards to credit cards can be manufactured with the latest in authentication and centralised card-issuance technology.

Entrust Datacard is not just providing the technology needed to make the new cards, but also increasingly educating customers. The firm's company director for mobile solutions, Sebastien Tormos, says the process has taught them that financial institutions aren't always as prepared for chip migration as they should be.

Connected world

Tormos says the world is becoming more connected, and that an unprecedented amount of personal and sensitive information is being shared across networks between banks and their customers. Financial institutions are now seeking to make accounts as secure as possible, he argues, while at the same time being user-friendly.

"For banks, it's always a trade-off between the user convenience you want to allow in your transaction and the security you want to enforce at the same time," says Tormos. "That's where we come in, that's what we do, and we work on better processes for securing identities and making sure that the transactions that consumers conduct on a day-to-day basis are safe.

"Today, whenever you have some sort of transaction with your bank - say you upgrade an account, you add a beneficiary or you sign up for a new product - [they] more and more want to rely only on electronic documents."

Tormos believes Entrust Datacard is at the forefront of the major trends driving the industry: "Our suite of products and solutions really are capable of providing banks with the tools they need to transform their business and help it evolve in this difficult world," he adds.

Point of view

Entrust Datacard's strength is in its ability to understand the consumer's point of view, Tormos argues. For example, it is particularly focused on improving instant issuance systems, improving the ability of banks to give out new cards to customers as quickly as possible without compromising on safety.

It also offers technology that can cut out the middle man completely, allowing customers to use self-service card-issuance kiosks when in urgent need of a replacement card. Images and personalisation data are printed on the spot and are delivered to the consumer immediately.

"A lot of our bank customers use our systems to issue cards at a branch level. A customer might have lost their wallet, say, or doesn't have their payment card with them," says Tormos. "With our technology you can, through a convenient process, get a new card issued in a matter of five to ten minutes."

As the world becomes increasingly digital, Tormos believes paper and electronic approaches will co-exist for a number of years to transition the user experience. However, as banks move away from paper and into the digital world, he thinks they will have to work harder to protect customers' details and retain confidence. Tormos argues that bank accounts are trusted as repositories for sensitive data about customers, and managing that trust as the transition to online spaces occurs is a major challenge.

"Our customers want to be efficient in an electronic way, but are often unsure if they have the best technology and the best-trained people," he says. "These are the challenges and the questions the industry must resolve going forward.

"Everything that we do is around those key positioning statements: making sure you have the right entities connecting through the network, that the bank is authenticating their customers, and making sure you have a good transaction and exchange of information."

Keep up with the mobile world

An important trend Entrust Datacard is working on is mobile banking. This innovation is good for business, of course, but mobile phones connected to the internet pose their own security risks, while new trends mean that security will need to increase quite dramatically over time.

"Now banks have to deal with millions of smartphones connecting at the same time in the system," says Tormos. "That's a major change that's causing a lot of rethinking for the banks in terms of how they look at their websites, how they communicate, and how they interact with their customers."

At the forefront of this is the next big thing in card-payment technology: Apple Pay, which will let the user pay for goods and services with just a touch of their device. Launched in October of this year, it is only available in the US and will help accelerate another big change in the market, says Tormos: the transition by US credit cards to the EMV method of authentication that's already standard in Europe. It's an enormous task - deadlines for the switchover are fast approaching - but the benefits for security and customer satisfaction are worth it.

"Speaking on a broader level of the world of payments, Apple Pay is going to be a great accelerator," says Tormos. "It's also going to be an accelerator for the EMV migration into the US market, which is happening right now. What is very interesting is the Apple technology relies on a chip and the EMV standards for in-store transactions.

"We see the contactless method of payment gaining traction, certainly in the UK market, [and it] is kind of at the forefront in Poland and Eastern European countries," he adds "There's still a way to go, but it's definitely a game-changer.

"All over the world, payment cards are displacing cash, cheques - even wire transfers are more popular in terms of everyday usage in India and Africa. That's very impressive growth. At the same time, you'll see growth of other kinds of payments, from mobile phone to tablet. Online payments are growing very fast."

Global card transactions are soaring: in 2013, card payments saw a 13% increase and the number of payment cards in circulation reached 10.8 billion, according to consulting firm Retail Banking Research. That's a lot of new cards to keep secure, and the industry is expected to continue to grow. With its systems being used to issue almost 90% of the world's financial cards, Entrust Datacard manages billions of these transactions a year, and they're well qualified to manage billions more.

Director for mobile solutions at Entrust Datacard Sebastien Tormos.
Entrust Datacard offers secure identification, card personalisation and identity-based security solutions.