It was only a matter of time before the concept of e-payment expanded to include eftpos transactions, and at the Billing Solutions 2000 Conference held last week in Melbourne, software developer Ctel Technologies put an end to the wait.
With the unveiling of its new Customer Direct software, the company believes it is making e-commerce an inevitability.
"This sector is growing at a solid rate," Ctel's CEO Alan Scott, said. "We are experiencing growth not just in terms of an increase of customers purchasing e-payment solutions, but also the volume of transactions for existing customers is on the rise.
"People are developing more trust in the Internet. The convenience factor is a big selling point here because Internet transactions are so friendly in terms of time."
The Customer Direct solution is being targeted at corporate and SME businesses who are evolving to an e-commerce model. The product is also available for distribution through resellers and other Web developers.
Ctel will deal with big corporate customers directly and is seeking alliances with resellers to distribute it to the SME sectors. "SMEs are currently where the big opportunities lie in the marketplace," says Scott. "These are the guys that are just starting to take off in e-commerce."
Scott believes that there are a number of "ATM transactions" which fit perfectly into the e-payment model. "Anything that requires a massive amount of tailorability won't adapt to e-commerce," he said. "But there are many instances where people just want to take their money out of the machine. They don't want to speak to anyone, they don't want an assistant asking them how they are, and they don't want to know how the assistant is. In this respect we have only seen the tip of the iceberg."
As part of an aggressive channel strategy, Ctel is offering resellers the option to pick up Ctel technologies as their own brand and has already signed two of these deals with Arrowshop and Interpay. "From the customer perspective you're dealing with Arrowshop or Interpay exclusively," Scott said. "They are the face that you see and the person you look to for service and support. No one dealing with these guys would ever know that the products sitting on the backend were ours."
The launch of Customer Direct will see a massive influx in the number of vulnerable security details, including personal PIN numbers, floating around the Web. It is a fact that is not wasted on nervous consumers, but Scott is undaunted. "Security is more of a perceived problem than a real issue," he said confidently. "When the benefits are clearly there, people get over the security thing quite quickly."
Even though the solution uses St George to integrate into the banking system, Customer Direct, unlike other Internet payment systems such as Bpay, doesn't lock users into one financial institution.
"With our market research showing that three out of four consumers use more than one bank, this facility better reflects the reality of consumer banking habits," says Scott.
Ctel is currently exploring the possibilities of providing end-to-end solutions in call centres using the Customer Direct software. Scott added that Ctel has been in discussions with a telco and will be announcing partnerships in the next couple of weeks.