Voice of the Industry

Hurdles race: POS payments across North and South America

Wednesday 23 October 2019 11:46 CET | Editor: Oana Ifrim | Voice of the industry

Ralf Gladis, Computop: Ecommerce payments have been available worldwide right from the start. However, POS payments are still a very regional and local business


Global payments? Our industry talks about it, but few of us can deliver. Things get especially tricky when processing POS payments on several continents. At Computop, we process ecommerce and POS payments with local acquiring in Europe, the US and Canada.  Now, we’re connecting to local acquirers to cover Latin America for POS, too. It’s been quite a hurdles race, and I want to share some of the entertaining details with you. 

In contrast to ecommerce, the world of POS payments seems to be well standardized, right? Card brands and all sorts of certification bodies are making sure that card payments are processed safely everywhere. That’s why we were surprised that some of our POS terminals couldn’t process NFC in the US. Why? It’s mandatory in the US to transmit NFC transactions with a flag that identifies whether a card or a mobile device triggered the NFC payment. In Europe, however, nobody cares about such a flag. To use the same devices in all geographies we first had to change the terminal software. 

American Express had another surprise in store for us. As they are an important Computop partner, we are connected to several of their platforms including the global platform. What would you expect from a global platform? Of course, that it’s global. However, the global platform does not cover US acquiring contracts. It seems that I jumped to conclusions. Anyway, with all the different acquiring platforms we integrated to cover the Americas, adding American Express’s US platform wasn’t a big deal. 

Taking a look at Latin America, the hurdles get a bit technical: Despite all standards, PIN encryption is handled differently in Europe, the US and LATAM. At Computop, we run several HSM servers for both P2PE and PIN security. That was good enough for European and US acquirers but not for LATAM where POS terminals often use the acquirer’s key for PIN encryption (DUKPT). As we couldn’t use our Computop keys and encryption we first had to upgrade our HSM to translate the PIN encryption. 

Global payments? It is still a big puzzle, and nobody holds all of the pieces. Ecommerce payments have been available worldwide right from the start. However, POS payments are still a very regional and local business. You better be prepared for surprises when using the POS terminal worldwide. At Computop, we take on the challenge to provide a choice of local acquiring and also reduce the complexity for merchants. After covering POS payments in Europe, North America and Latin America, our next stop will be POS in Asia. I’m sure it will hold even more surprises.

About Ralf Gladis

Ralf Gladis is the Co-Founder and CEO of the international payment service provider Computop – the payment people. In addition, Ralf acts as non-executive Director at Computop, Inc in New York. He is also responsible for the international expansion and strategic planning at Computop.

About Computop

Computop offers local and innovative omnichannel solutions for payment processing and fraud prevention around the world. For ecommerce, at POS and on mobile devices, retailers and service providers can choose from over 350 payment methods. Computop, a global player with locations in Germany, China, the UK and the USA processes transactions for more than 16,000 retailers annually, with a combined value of USD 34 billion.

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Keywords: Ralf Gladis, Computop, POS, ecommerce, expert opinion, payments , Europe, North America, Latin America, omnichannel, payment processing, payment methods
Countries: United States