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    Securing a More Mobile, Self-Service Payment Industry: Takeaways from ATMIA 2016

    How the ATM will interplay with tokenization, security as more than an afterthought, and more from the 2016 ATM U.S. Industry Association (ATMIA) Conference

    It's hard to believe that one year ago I was wrapping up my visit to the annual ATM U.S. Industry Association (ATMIA) Conference in Las Vegas, and that today I'm concluding yet another visit to that same conference, this time in New Orleans. Contrary to the carefree lifestyle "the Big Easy" might suggest, the seriousness of the theme of this year's ATMIA event - security - was undeniable.


    You might not expect any conference in the Big Easy to tackle the exact opposite - The Big Challenge. Yet, that was exactly the focus of this year's ATMIA conference. Just consider the first day's topics, which included "Fraud Mitigation Features," "EMV Migration Projects," and "ATM Protection Against Smash & Grab."


    On day two, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago gave a presentation titled, "Building a Faster, Safer Payment System," which included this takeaway: "Strong stakeholder support is imperative for the Federal Reserve as it continues to advance major payment systems improvements envisioned in the Strategies for Improving the U.S. Payment System." The scale of this task is enormous when you consider that, according to a Fed press release from July 2015, "the Federal Reserve's Faster Payments Task Force (is) comprised of more than 300 payment system stakeholders interested in improving the speed of authorization, clearing, settlement, and notification of various types of personal and business payments."


    Even though this may not be news to some audiences, particularly to those outside of the United States, few can argue against having the Fed on board, even as most will agree that such a program for the U.S. market will require considerable negotiating skills and indeed, considerable political acumen. The enormity of the task is perhaps another reason why the ATMIA conference reinforced an agenda far removed from anything "easy."


    Also notable was the panel session titled, "How will the ATM Interplay with Mobile and Tokenization?" According to the advance promotional information, "Digital money, mobile applications, and tokenization/encryption schemes will all have an effect on how we become a more mobilized, self-service focused society." There's no escaping just how "mobile" society has become, and how applications today are viewed as being modern when their user interface supports today's variety of smartphones and tablets.


    The word modernization may be overused of late, especially in the NonStop community, where there's continued emphasis on the need to modernize solutions. Too few NonStop users are investing in tools and utilities that are readily available. Part of the issue may be perceived complexity, as observed by comForte CTO Thomas Burg: "When it comes to modernizing existing applications on HPE NonStop, choices are often non-trivial ... We find ourselves consulting with customers and helping them decide which of the [myriad] technologies fit best to breathe new life into 'legacy' applications, which often are very robust and extremely hard to replace. And yes, the support of today's modern mobile devices is high up on their list of non-trivial options."


    Yet modernization without security makes little sense, particularly when it comes to addressing the product needs of NonStop users. In my previous post, "The End to Security as an Afterthought: 2016 Trends," I also quoted Burg's observation, "It never ceases to amaze me that many HPE NonStop users today are still thinking security is an additive, where a magic 'secure all' module is all that is required."


    Attendees of the ATMIA U.S. Conference walked away with knowledge of just how rapidly the way we interface with financial institutions is evolving. The branch office just doesn't scale, and the human element is becoming too expensive. Likewise, it was obvious to all that future plans had to take into consideration a more mobile society, even though rolling out the supporting infrastructure might conclude long after "the latest technology" is no longer current. What I learned firsthand was just how many vendors from an exhibition community of almost a hundred championed the need for a greater variety of transaction options including locations, much greater demand for monitoring and yes, much greater attention to security.


    ATMIA U.S. is not alone in featuring sessions highlighting just how mobilized and self-service-focused we have become as a society. Security will continue to be a centerpiece of mobile, self-service solutions, especially in the payments industry. Will it be easy? No. But it also doesn’t have to be “The Big Challenge” either.


    If you’re looking at how to modernize and/or secure your payments systems, comForte can help.