Q&A with Kees Kwakernaak at Fiserv

Not many Australian businesses would have heard of Fiserv or be aware that it processes payments for global brands such as Google, Microsoft, and McDonalds, and is the largest global issuer processor and merchant acquirer.

In an industry where ongoing availability is essential, Fiserv has continuously underscored their commitment to network reliability.

Payments Consulting Network Managing Director Mangala Martinus recently had the opportunity to interview Kees Kwakernaak, Country Manager of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific for Fiserv, to discuss the company’s merchant solutions business in Australia.  

You can read the highlights of the conversation below. 

MM: Please provide an overview of the business and the services it provides. 

KK: 

In Australia, Fiserv offers a comprehensive suite of innovative technology and payment solutions for FIs, MNCs, SMEs and fintech companies.  

Our solutions span the financial and payment ecosystem, covering acquiring and digital commerce, issuer processing, core banking, digital banking, cash management, risk management and AML solutions. We’ve had a presence in Australia for nearly 30 years and connect with over 100 financial institutions, schemes and partners.

MM: What payments services do you offer merchants and not-for-profit organisations in Australia? 

KK: Fiserv offers Carat, a global omnichannel commerce ecosystem that helps companies reach untapped markets and expand globally without being limited by borders, currencies or old ways of thinking. Fiserv offers both card present (in-store) and card-not-present (online) payments, with both local and global coverage. We have our own payment gateway solution and also support over 30 other payment gateways. 

MM: What industry sectors and client types do you focus on? 

KK: We cover all industries and are also willing to provide services to higher risk sectors such as sports betting and gaming. We also support a number of independent sales organisations (ISOs) and some of these have high penetration in particular industry sectorsOur global coverage provides an advantage relative to Australian banks as we can support global brands that have a presence in Australia as well as Australian brands looking to expand overseas 

MM: What are your key strengths? 

KK: In terms of key strengthswe are:

  • Omnichannel is a global and local strength we have – we are continuing to invest in ecommerce and being global we can do at scale. Point-of-sale has always been a strength and with a solid track record of innovation in features and functionality we are hard to beat I would say.
  • As a global payments and financial services technology solutions provider, we can settle into any bank account and that provides clients with flexibility. Being a focused merchant acquiring business we also don’t have to manage conflict for example with least-cost routing. We simply offer what is best to our clients.
  • We know how to structure risk – we have a lot of flexibility in how we structure risk by leveraging capabilities such as reserve accounts and delayed funding to manage exposure.

MM: What do you see as your key differentiators? 

KK: 

Fiserv differentiates through:

  • Scale – as the world’s largest acquirer in a scale game Fiserv can invest in product and service innovation.
  • Reliability – due to our Active-Active payments switch infrastructure. 
  • High authorisation rates – minimising failed transactions. 
  • Providing least-cost routing – on multi-network debit card transactions for both in-store payments and card-on-file online payments. 
  • Single Integration – the Carat single-source commerce engine makes the process seamless, effortless, and secure. We’ve unified our suite of solutions into a powerful tech ecosystem so that merchants can create commerce globally, across all channels.

MM: What were your key achievements over the last 12 months? 

KK: Key recent investments include: 

  • The launch of multi-currency eCommerce solutions, which enables our Australian clients who want to expand their business beyond Australia borders to easily sell to international customers. This is an especially important growth channel now with our physical borders remaining closed and with little or no business from tourism. Our solution suits small to enterprise businesses and enables them to accept 140+ currencies and receive it all back in Australian dollars. It’s a very flexible solution – you can use any Australian bank account and not have to maintain foreign currencies or foreign currency bank accounts. You can manage all those currencies with one merchant account, and on top of that, you have very transparent Interchange++ pricing and very detailed reconciliation reporting to keep your accounts team happy.
  • The introduction of Merchant Point app – a new feature-rich app that enables our clients to manage their account with us at their convenience. It gives our clients time back in their day to do what they do best – running their business. Clients can order paper rolls for their terminals, order more terminals or virtual terminals, update their business and contact details with us and more.

MM: What are the key initiatives on your product/service roadmap over the next year? 

KK: This industry moves at a fast pace and we continue to invest and innovate to be able to offer our clients the services they need to deliver to their customers. Consumers want to pay the way they want to pay, and we help our clients stay up with the latest solutions.

As the debit networks evolve their offerings, we have continued our commitment to provide least-cost routing on multi-network debit card transactions by extending our support for more eCommerce use cases.

We are introducing new solutions to simplify the lives of our clients and their software partners:  

  • We’re launching a new Android based payment terminal and new omnichannel integration layer in Australia to make it easier for clients using bespoke or complex Point of Sale or other software solutions to connect with us.  
  • We will continue to evolve our Merchant Point app offering and introduce web portal interfaces through which our clients can access electronic statements, real-time transaction views of all takings across all their products, view analytics dashboards and also have ability to accept payments.

We continue to roll out solutions that further address our clients’ needs around security, improved authorisation rates, omnichannel and facilitation. 

MM: What industry changes or trends do you see occurring over the next 2-3 years that will have a major impact on your business and/or your clients? 

KK

  • Margin compression is impacting the ability of acquirers and PSPs to invest in innovation.
  • Account to account payments will start to make inroads into how payments are made and processed.
  • In the travel industry for example, how easy will those organisations be able to obtain a merchant facility going forward, and how will the industry price for risk?

MM: What key criteria or features should a business consider when evaluating payments service providers? 

KK: Businesses should be considering: 

  • Uptime.
  • Authorisation rates.
  • Independence – least-cost routing highlighted that some providers have a conflict – there are benefits of working with an independent provider that puts the client’s interests first.
  • Omnichannel solutions that can support both card present and card-not-present payments.

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Fiserv is a member of the Payment Service Provider Panel. 

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