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    Conexxus Sets the Stage for Present & Future

    Inaugural conference kicks off with a look at the technologies in vogue.

    By Brian Berk, Convenience Store News

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Conexxus Executive Director Gray Taylor kicked off the inaugural Conexxus Annual Conference Monday with a look at the technologies in vogue now and those expected to be hot in the future.

    The most talked-about technologies today are EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) and tokenization, according to the head of Conexxus (formerly known as PCATS), a nonprofit, member-driven technology organization dedicated to the development and implementation of standards, technology innovation and advocacy for the convenience store and petroleum market.

    EMV carries a lot of misperceptions, with politicians having a much different view than they should of the technology intended to provide protection against data breaches, said Taylor.

    Retailers need to upgrade their point-of-sale (POS) systems by Oct. 1 if they want to avoid potential financial responsibility for fraudulent debit cards and credit cards. Currently, credit card companies are responsible for such fraud. The Oct. 1 date is a liability shift deadline; retailers are not required to make POS upgrades.

    “EMV became a miracle cure. It’s now as American as apple pie,” Taylor said during his opening remarks at the conference, taking place at the Loews Annapolis Hotel through April 30. “Politicians have been told it’s simple to upgrade to [EMV],” which is untrue.

    Another misperception is that EMV would have prevented data breaches, such as the one suffered by Target Corp., he added.

    Conexxus’ executive director stressed that he is concerned about smaller convenience store retailers having to upgrade their POS systems due to the $30,000 price tag attached with EMV implementation. Hence, he expects many smaller retailers will not being able to make the upgrade.

    “This is a matter of life and death for some in our industry,” he said. “[Smaller c-store retailers] will be targeted for breaches [if they don’t upgrade].”

    Even if they have the money, some c-store retailers may not be ready for EMV implementation by Oct. 1. When Taylor asked the audience filled with c-store retailers if any were already EMV compliant, no one raised their hand. Taylor said he was not surprised given that the industry just received specifications for what EMV upgrades must be made.

    “EMV migration could take years,” he said, while noting that at the same time, large corporations including Apple and Google are “all in” regarding mobile payment offerings.

    “Mobile is right around the corner,” he observed. “More and more payments will be done this way.”

    Unlike the controversy regarding the usefulness of EMV, tokenization is definitely a good idea for the c-store industry, according to Taylor.

    Tokenization is the process of replacing an important element of a consumer’s personal information with a non-sensitive piece of data — known as a token — which has no intrinsic value.

    Taylor gave the example of a rising number of false tax returns that were filed this year. Cyberhackers stole social security numbers to use for the filings, something that could have been prevented with tokenization.

    THE NEXT FIVE YEARS

    Looking ahead to the next five years, Taylor laid out many themes, including selling to the “new consumers" comprised of those in the millennial and Generation Y age groups.

    “These people trust websites much more than financial institutions. They will not give their social security number to a bank, but will reveal everything on Facebook,” he said. “We have to gain their trust.”

    Payments evolution, a fresh and healthy revolution, industry consolidation and ubiquitous data security will be other important themes in the future, concluded Taylor.

    By Brian Berk, Convenience Store News
    • About Brian Berk Brian Berk is managing editor of Stagnito Business Information's Convenience Store News and Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner, where he specializes in covering motor fuels, technology and financial news. He has served the magazine industry for 14 years and has also worked in the radio and newspaper fields. Berk holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the State University of New York at Cortland and a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.

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