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Streamlining Modern Payment Solutions (INTERVIEW)

Erik Vlugt, VP of NA Product Marketing, VeriFone
Michael Hemsworth
December 22nd, 2013
A member of VeriFone for almost ten years, Erik Vlugt is Vice President of Product Marketing for the company’s North American operations -- a role that has allowed him to manage and oversee fundamental changes in the way the leading brand in electronic payments technology operates. Born and raised in Holland, Vlugt is excited for what’s to come from the innovation powerhouse that is VeriFone, which has been on the forefront of payment technology for several decades. Mobile payment technology is on the rise, and Vlugt explains how VeriFone is satiating the demand for quick, convenient payment and commerce methods the world over.

Seven Questions with Erik Vlugt:

1. How does your team generate new ideas?

We generate new ideas in a number of different ways: first, we spend lots of time on the market research side of things and looking at consumer behavior, and talking with merchants, retailers and channel partners to better understand how we can develop the next innovations to meet their demands and further improve the end-user experience. We use our findings to innovate at the solution level with certain features or specifications. We have different teams in place comprised by engineers and technology experts that focus on developing various components of our new innovations. All of the teams use their own processes when developing new technologies, and they are all extremely detail focused -- considering all of the different factors that can help improve the user experiences for merchants, retailers and consumers.

2. Do you have specific rituals for re-setting your team to be creative?

We try to facilitate the right channels and forums to instill and promote creativity. When brainstorming new ideas, we make it a point to get the teams together in environments that encourage participation and creative thinking—anything from a boardroom with a blank whiteboard at the center to events outside the office that enable people to interact and bounce ideas off of one another. We sometimes also bring in external speakers and experts that can discuss timely trends or the like from a unique perspective to get ideas flowing.

3. How do you identify trends? What resources does your team use to spot trends and consumer insights?

As previously mentioned, we spend considerable amounts of time listening to merchants, retailers and channel partners. Each of these groups offer different perspectives that are valuable in helping us to understand how current technologies are being received as well as opportunities for innovation that can help improve their experiences. Essentially, when it comes to identifying trends, we find that it’s most important to listen.

4. What is the biggest challenge you face when innovating?

We do a great job at bringing innovation to the table and bringing ideas to fruition; this is why VeriFone has been a global leader in secure electronic payment solutions for more than 30 years. However, no matter how great an idea may seem, if it compromises the security of information, it’s a problem. When developing new solutions, one of our protocols is to measure them against a rigid and expansive set of security and compliance standards. Our commitment to security has helped VeriFone become a leading payments technology brand that gives customers and partners peace of mind, knowing that their valuable data is protected.

5. Have you identified any gaps in your innovation process that you're looking to improve on?

Considering the constant evolution of technology, security standards, consumer preferences and the retail landscape, VeriFone and its teams are continuously looking within for gaps in the innovation process. Obviously, there’s a large, ongoing movement toward mobile technology, which means lots of new data and information is coming into our organization. Actively identifying gaps during the innovation process and taking measures to close them in a secure manner is critical to our industry leadership and being at the forefront of the payments space as it continuously evolves.

6. Has there ever been an instance where another industry has influenced an innovation at your company?

Being influenced by outside industries happens all the time, and is a contributing factor as to why we’re successful. One example involves the point-of-sale (POS) innovation we delivered several years ago. We were the first to offer a POS terminal featuring a color and completely touchscreen interface. Previously, many said that such features weren’t necessary outside of consumer electronics, but what we’ve seen is that this type of functionality has come to be standard in the payments space and oftentimes required by customers. We essentially brought the benefits of a consumer electronics approach to payment solutions which substantially improved the consumer experience.

7. Looking to the future, how is VeriFone going to be a leader in innovation?

As a renowned payments technology leader around the globe, our culture is hardwired to innovate. Moving forward, our innovative leadership will continue as a result of the perfect storm of holistic hardware, software, and services solutions we’ve intentionally created to continue setting the standard for innovation in the payments space.
References: trendreports, verifone