Exclusive Interview with Ken Paull, Chief Revenue Officer at Cayan

Ken Paull is the Chief Revenue Officer at Cayan, where he is responsible for overseeing the company’s sales, marketing and business development functions. He brings more than 25 years of payments and executive leadership experience to the organization. Prior to joining Cayan, Ken served as Chief Executive Officer of ROAM, a global leader in mobile commerce. His vast experience also includes serving as President of North America for PAX, Senior Vice President of RBS Lynk (now WorldPay), Vice President at Triton Systems and General Manager at VeriFone. While at RBS WorldPay, he was responsible for building and rapidly growing the national account payments division while also directing the turnaround of their ATM processing business. At VeriFone, Ken built the retail division which has become one of the largest segments of their business. Ken has also served on the Board of Directors at TRM (now part of Cardtronics). He has been a speaker and contributor in numerous payments industry conferences and business organizations.

LTP founders Aditya Khurjekar and Amit Goel caught up with Ken Paull recently to discuss what is happening in the industry, at Cayan and in his new role.

LTP) How was 2014 for the industry and Cayan. And what's the outlook for 2015 (key trends, strategy, etc.)?

Ken: The payments industry had a huge year in 2014 and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Tech giants like Amazon and Apple have entered the arena with long term payments ambitions. On the other hand, startups are trying their best to carve out market share by challenging older players like PayPal and Verifone. So many things are hitting the market all at once:

  • The shift to EMV chip-and-PIN cards from traditional mag-stripe cards
  • HCE (host card emulation) emerging as new alternative for payment enablement
  • Tokenization turning out to be one of most promising methods for securing payments
  • Contactless payments are on a roll, further driven by payment solutions like Apple Pay
  • Rising focus on proximity marketing initiatives by leveraging proximity technologies especially BLE (bluetooth low energy) beacons
  • Security concerns are being addressed more effectively with the next generation of fraud mitigation systems
  • Companies are running analytics engines on Big Data to gain more insights

Because of this technology revolution, vendors are coming up with more and more solutions. No merchant expected such a high level of market dynamics and change. So on one hand it is good for innovation but at the same time, some decisions have to be made to find out the right signal from the noise.

At Cayan, these are very exciting times. We are seeing tremendous growth and recently rebranded. We are a 17 year old firm; we were exclusively focused on providing quick and easy processing to small and mid-sized businesses.

2014 has been a good year for Cayan. We are actively working on new platforms and new products in 2015. Our core business has been payment processing and payment gateway services but we also provide solutions related to accepting mobile payments, gift cards, loyalty programs and EMV cards.

LTP) Can you talk about the value added services and what's new apart from plain old payment processing?

Ken: Speaking of new value added services, a noteworthy mention would be our Genius platform. The Genius Platform is a cloud-managed solution that is bringing in best practices like tokenization, secure hardware and point-to-point encryption. With the Genius Platform, merchants can not only accept new and emerging mobile payment systems, but also provide an effective omni-channel experience to their customers.

The Genius Platform also makes things easier for POS developers. In order to get merchants payments enabled via our platform, we are working actively with channel partners such as Retail Pro, Tomax and Teamwork Retail. The aim is to make our POS system software enable all levels of integration. Our software runs in the cloud and POS developers and independent software vendors can access it through APIs.

The Genius Platform is terminal agnostic, meaning it can work with POS terminals such as those from Ingenico and Verifone. Moreover, this system can work with different payment processors, gift cards, mobile payment systems and is EMV compliant as well.

LTP) Analysts are saying 35-40% penetration of EMV/NFC by the end of the year. People on the ground say it's very low right now and that it will take few years to reach that level?

Ken: The EMV implementation ought to be segment specific. We are looking forward to tokenization implementation from an omni-channel perspective. This is because of the fact that people are buying in the store as well as buying stuff online and then picking it up from the store.

Taking Apple Pay as an example, it will grow as people buy more iPhones. There's going to be a tipping point in the future when all the iPhones support Apple Pay on a basic level. But nobody is talking about this.

LTP) EMV and NFC adoption by SMB and micro merchants - biggest challenge or opportunity?

Ken: Considering EMV and NFC adoption, it is all about education for the merchants. If customers come up to merchants with chip based cards and payment options like Apple Pay and merchants don’t know what to make of it, then that becomes a major challenge. Moreover, with so much going on in the payments industry right now, it’s hard for the merchants to absorb all of it at once. Consumer demand will be a major factor and merchants will focus only on what customers demand most from them in the end. With the change in consumer behavior and the upcoming demand for new payment systems, this is where we see the opportunity.

At Cayan, we have a leadership that not only focuses on the technical solution but also how marketing and sales can get aligned with our partners. In our on-going efforts, we are guiding our partners and helping them out with the Genius platform. We are aiding our partners in providing their clients with both the technical as well as the sales culture. Our USP has been to leverage our technology and sales capabilities to help our partners educate merchants better.

LTP) How will the new branding help?

Ken: The name Cayan came up through a long branding initiative that included research, evaluation and testing, and it has been great to move to the new name from Merchant Warehouse. We are a company seeking opportunities in payments. We are not just an ISO (independent sales organization) but more than that. We are pivoting into a technology-centric company. The name Cayan is ideal to capture this spirit and truly show who we are becoming.

People management in our organization has been very strong. We have a kind of hierarchy that has led to a few advantages:

  • Promotion from within through the employees base
  • Attrition is low and retention is high
  • Inside sales partner based sales channels are cultivated

As far as the future roadmap, in 2015, besides the focus on US, we are looking at Canada and other countries as well and working with partners in other geographies. We are conducting co-marketing programs offering Omni-Channel first tokenization. The new Genius product was long overdue and now we are ready to take it forward to drive more systems. We have our own underwriting and call center and are already one of the major acquirers as of today. We are competing with the largest names in the space and are constantly witnessing growth in our volumes.