March 27, 2013

HTNG, We Hear You!

HTNG, in response to your release of “Secure Payments Framework for Hospitality,” let us cut right to the chase and say, “thank you.” Thank you for pointing out the things that we are doing well, and for making the technology we introduced (tokenization) an industry standard. More importantly, thank you for being very clear in the areas where you’d like to see us step up and deliver new solutions. We hear you. We appreciate your candor. And we’re on it.
Shift4 got its payments-industry start in the Hospitality industry. We earned our stripes as an independent payment gateway by providing enterprise solutions to the full-service hotels and resorts in Las Vegas, and over the past two decades we’ve expanded to serve more than 30% of the U.S. Hospitality industry. We’ve pioneered new innovations with hoteliers in mind, and have brought several revolutionary technologies to market. However, we are the first to say that we shouldn’t stop there.

As we reviewed HTNG’s Framework, we noticed a push for all vendors to provide technologies similar to what we are providing. (Similar enough – in some instances – that they may actually need to license Shift4’s patented technologies to pull it off, but that’s a discussion for another day.) You asked for things like tokenization and P2PE, that everyone is (or ought to be) including in their solutions, but also for a secure method to exchange payment information between the property and third-party booking agents. To our knowledge, our 4Res™ technology is the only offering on the market today that fills this need.

You asked for secure lookup terminals – but we’ve gone one better. We recently released 4Word®, a patent-pending solution designed to allow a merchant with no card data in their environment to pass card data on to someone else. (For example, 4Word lets a concierge send card data to a florist without ever exposing that card number in his environment, and therefore not bringing any part of his hotel back in scope.) You also asked for a secure billing solution for banquets and events. We’re confident that with only a slight modification to our existing technologies and solutions, we can make this happen. The rails are already in place; we’re closer to a functional fix than you might expect.

We also heard a clear call from the contributing organizations (at least six of which are current Shift4 customers) to develop a methodology for international token exchange. Now, it’s undisputable that we are the “800-pound gorilla” in the world of tokens. We brought the technology to market in 2005, and we’ve since generated somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5 billion unique tokens. No other company comes close to this level of experience or acceptance.

That being said, we recognize that we cannot do this alone. It is our opinion that the only way to successfully provide a global token exchange is to build a consortium of trusted token providers that can leverage our combined technologies to keep sensitive data completely out of the hotelier’s environment.

This is why Shift4 will be hosting a roundtable in Minneapolis the week of HITEC, bringing together an international network of tokenization providers to hash out a feasible method for this secure exchange. (Yes, HTNG, to put it in your words, we’re going to lay the groundwork for a PIP to securely connect the world’s largest tokenizing gateways – you can thank us later.)

So now the only question is, “Who’s with us?” We encourage all HTNG members to contact their gateways and encourage them to reach out to Shift4 and be part of this effort. Gateway representatives, email [email protected] for your invitation.