Cardtek Group: innovation on the cards - Ayse Nil Sarigollu

As mobile and contactless payment processes become more prevalent, Cardtek Group's CEO, Ayse Nil Sarigollu, speaks to Future Banking about keeping up with and taking advantage of new technology in the payments sphere.

What can you tell us about Cardtek Group? What is your core business and your key message?

Ayse Nil Sarigollu: Cardtek Group was founded by three enterpreneurs in 2001 to meet the growing demand in the chip-based technology solutions mandated by EMV standards. In ten years, the company became the largest solutions provider in the payment systems industry and now proudly serves the largest banks in the country.

Cardtek Group is composed of five fully owned subsidiary companies, and, together with its international affiliates Cardtek Middle East and Cardtek Azerbaijan, directly operates from six countries: Turkey, the US, Canada, Azerbaijan, Poland and the UAE. Brand awareness of the Cardtek Group extends to 50 countries.

As a globally favoured company in the payments systems industry, Cardtek Group provides complete solutions, services and products, from software and hardware to card management systems and NFC solutions, along with all their related essentials.

Can you tell us about the card innovations your company has devised over the last three years?

Due to the high competition and advanced infrastructure of the payment system industry, innovation, empowered by efficiency, is the key to leadership. With this in mind, Cardtek has helped to develop sustainable innovations such as the branch-based instant card-printing system; the first iPhone iCarte in Europe with Yapi Kredi Bank; the continent's first MasterCard-approved TSM operator with Turkcell; the credit card, replacing cash, with Visa; and the first micro-SD credit card in Europe - all of which are accepted locally or globally by the relevant authorities.

Amongst dozens of such firsts, the most recent are Tivibu Carsi and TTNET's Tivibu, a digital pay-TV operator, which enables users to do online shopping on television; and the electronic cash register (ECR), which can act as both a point-of-sale (POS) and cash register device. Since ECR is always connected to revenue administration, it prevents merchants from providing only a POS receipt and not a sales receipt. That's a huge step against tax evasion.

As Cardtek, we provide the software and the technology infrastructure for the project, ensuring that worldwide safety standards are maintained between the revenue administration, bank and merchant.

How and why do you think you have you seen the demand for your services from the financial services industry change over the last few years?

Up until the last decade, the payment systems industry was linear - managed and operated by banking and financial institutions. Today, it is a vertical market with many strong players. At the same time, consumers are demanding more secure, convenient and integrated services. They want simplicity and speed, and they want to be able to perform payment transactions on any device, in any location. With the increasing use of the internet, mobile and social media, they expect to be able to purchase products in any of those environments. All these factors challenge existing payment methodologies and represent a new era for the industry.

"Cardtek Group is well positioned in emerging and innovative payment methodologies."

Cardtek Group is well positioned in emerging and innovative payment methodologies. For example, we implemented the MasterPass digital wallet system on connected TVs, allowing consumers to buy products on the TV using a remote control. This product was a finalist at the SESAMES Awards 2013. We follow trends in the payments industry very closely in order to be able to offer our customers the best solutions at the right time.

What technology, in your opinion, has had the biggest impact on the mobile banking and payments industry in the last few years?

It is hard to pick one but the most widely used is mobile wallets. Cardtek Group provides a wallet framework called WALLETxpert to serve multiple wallet requirements and vertical services, depending on a flexible configuration of how the customer wants to have it.

How do you see the mobile payments industry evolving in the years to come?

Different players are entering the mobile payments industry and may bring new ideas, technologies and ways of working. But we still consider NFC (near field communication) to be the most mature front-end solution, and it can easily be used with end-to-end services using Cardtek's TSMxpert, NFCxpert and WALLETxpert products in a bundle. On the other hand, the redefinition of business models for taking mobile payments to the masses is still needed. Therefore, the industry shall focus on inventing new business models to be accepted by stakeholders, together with simple, user-friendly services for consumers.

Ayse Nil Sarigollu, CEO of Cardtek Group.