Gemalto aims to make branded credit cards more accessible to consumers

The new kiosks use Know Your Customer-compliant technologies like facial recognition or other biometric ID verification to authenticate customer identities and protect retailers from fraud. (Gemalto)

Retailers know store-branded credit cards keep consumers coming back, but asking them to enroll at checkout or by mail can be hit-or-miss and puts store employees in charge of anti-fraud checks. With a new self-serve kiosk from Gemalto, large retailers can lift that burden from employees and make enrollment more convenient for customers, giving them an instantly issued, branded credit card they can use that day.

The new kiosks use Know Your Customer-compliant technologies like facial recognition or other biometric ID verification to authenticate customer identities and protect retailers from fraud while simplifying the sign-up process. The idea is no disruptions at checkout, no waiting period for customers who want rewards and no hurdles for retailers that want to preserve their most loyal customer relationships.

FierceRetail spoke with Paul Kobos, SVP of banking and payments at Gemalto, to learn how this technology is simplifying credit card enrollment for customers and retailers. 

FierceRetail (FR): How did the idea for these kiosks come about, and what is the retail challenge that Gemalto hopes to solve?

Paul Kobos

Paul Kobos (PK): The idea came directly from our customers, who indicated there’s an appetite to increase consumer friendliness and service. To achieve that, retailers are focusing on mobile and fast, easy self-service options. With these new kiosks, we’re aiming to get rid of the complex, manual and fraud-prone processes that come along with issuing the store-branded credit cards that retailers know are a significant business draw for consumers. Those hurdles often deter customers from enrolling for cards, which isn’t a reality that retailers should have to live with. Consumers also shouldn’t have to wait to get their cards when they do enroll, and employees shouldn’t have to waste time walking customers through the currently arduous process. So much of it can be automated, streamlined and sped up.

FR: Who are you hoping to partner with on these kiosks? 

PK: We’re exploring several partner and client relationships at this time and, although we unfortunately can’t disclose them yet, we will ultimately work with both retailers to design customized cards and connect to their back-end systems as well as the financial institutions that issue their branded cards. Due to our extensive experience in the banking, payments and EMV card space, we have established relationships with a number of major retailers and the vast majority of large banks in the U.S. (and abroad, for that matter).

FR: How do you think consumers will react?

PK: Because digital and mobile tech has become a staple in almost every aspect of our daily lives, we anticipate that consumers will be significantly more likely to enroll in branded card programs if the paperwork disappears. Not only that, but being able to get the new card on the spot and start accruing rewards immediately, rather than waiting for it to arrive in the mail to use on the next visit, meets growing consumer expectations for immediate satisfaction. The incredible ease of use will be key for consumers.

FR: What might be some hesitations or misconceptions that customers and/or retailers would have about the product?

PK: There’s a chance that some customers would appreciate having a person to walk them through the enrollment process. In that case, a store employee could always come over and lend a hand, similar to the way that an airline employee is almost always available to assist at self-serve airport check-in kiosks. For versions of the kiosks that use facial recognition, customers might be concerned that their ID and biometric data will be stored somewhere, thus making retailers or some other third party responsible for securing it long-term. It will give those consumers peace of mind to know that no data is recorded or stored, only used locally and temporarily on the kiosk for the discrete ID verification check.

FR: With all the concerns over security and fraud, how do you think this product will help? 

PK: The current process of signing customers up for store-branded credit cards requires that the employee verify all personal information and manually check a form of photo ID, which may not be obviously fraudulent. Rather than unfairly relying on staff to be the only line of anti-fraud defense, these kiosks can use biometric ID verification (such as facial recognition) to be sure that both the ID document is legitimate and the person holding it is the individual on the ID. Additionally, if a customer forgets their existing card at home, they can instantly print a replacement, as opposed to employees relying on phone numbers for account lookup, which leaves credit accounts wide open to scamming and fraud.

FR: How will this product save retail staff time and money?

PK: You’ve probably had the experience—one too many times, dare I say—of going up to the point of sale to check out at your preferred department store, furniture merchant or electronics retailer and having someone ask you, “Can I offer you a chance to sign up for our credit card rewards program?” It’s not often that you’re tempted to say yes, but if you do, that employee has to spend 10 minutes guiding you through the paperwork while they could be helping other customers. All of those human-facilitated steps are obsolete with these kiosks, so staff can focus on helping shoppers, selling the products on the store floor and getting more transactions through the checkout line.

FR: What else can you tell us about the product and the future of retail?

PK: In order for brick-and-mortar retailers to survive and combat e-commerce, they’re going to need to offer more convenient and tailored services that ensure consumers continue to find value in coming into stores. Often, the more customized and dynamic those next-gen services get, the harder they are for companies to implement and for consumers to use. Providing store-branded credits cards via these self-serve kiosks checks all those boxes: added value in the loyalty program, simple installment, incomparable usability and even a small dose of novelty or ingenuity for a retail brand.