Payment Terminal Systems (PTS) started building kiosks in Europe in 2003 when the market there was ready for it. The market developed at a fast pace. Since March 2011, PTS has been building kiosks in the US.
AH: Kiosks seem to be more advanced these days and more user-friendly. How did you get into the kiosk business and what are PTS Terminals designed to sell?
AM: We build self-service touchscreen wireless kiosks designed to take payments for a wide variety of products. The majority of kiosk payments now are for prepaid cellular services like real time top-ups, PINs, international Long Distance, and International Mobile top-ups, but we are happy to see a growing demand for bill payments, gift cards, reloadable debit cards and other services that a kiosk system can process. Virtually, kiosks can accept payments for any services or goods. We were always looking to get into the US market and in 2011, it opened up. Since March 2011, my partner Michael Vorobyev and I have been building kiosks in the US. We use the same model as in Europe because it has been proven in the field for more than eight years.
AH: How has this kiosk model proved its reliability?
AM: Our network of European kiosks reliably completes approximately 60 million transactions a year using the most robust components available in the industry. They require almost no hands on maintenance and exhibit excellent uptime.
AH: Who is your customer? What type of company?
AM: Our customers and partners are anybody who wants to engage in or expand their prepaid business. Retailers can use our kiosks to conveniently offer a variety of added services and generate income around the clock, with no need for clerk interaction. Providers and payment processors who sell prepaid services and products can use our system to access cash-preferred consumers as a secure addition to their dealer network and online sales.
AH: I think you told me that you build the kiosks and also the payment processing software. And that you tailor the payment platform to specifications.
AM: Yes, we sell a turnkey solution. The kiosk hardware and software and our server software are designed to work together and tailored so customers can keep their current payment processor for kiosk transactions.
AH: Can you give me an example?
AM: From simple changes such as custom colors or branding the menu interface, to making a kiosk/vending hybrid which in addition to accepting top-up payments will dispense a variety of products such as gift cards, SIM cards and prepaid phones. These capabilities must be integrated through our software. Even after deployment we can remotely tailor which products can be offered at each kiosk installation upon our customer’s request or add new products.
AH: Is the US as forward thinking in their kiosk development as Europe? I understand that Europe is ahead of us.
AM: It’s just that no contract wireless came out first in Europe and so demand for the convenience of top-up via kiosks was natural.
AH: Is this an opportune time for kiosks? Would you say this is the age of self-service?
AM: Yes, it is definitely the age of self-service. The focus is on convenience. Our kiosks offer fast, simple and secure transactions. Soon enough kiosks will be an essential payment option for cash-oriented, underbanked or simply very busy people who do not want to expose their credit card for every small transaction.
AH: How can retailers profit from unattended kiosks offering prepaid financial services?
AM: Every retailer profits from increased foot traffic and the ability to offer a greater range of services and products. For example, when someone shops for groceries, they could also make payments for their prepaid phone, utilities and more. The kiosk reduces the need for staffing. The majority of transactions at a wireless provider store are top ups. Kiosks are a proven tool to handle these routine transactions and reduce lines. Traditional retailers can sell services and products without engaging their sales staff. There is no human error and our system provides the retailer with real-time transaction reporting. All of these services only require four square feet of floor space and an electrical outlet.
AH: What do consumers like about kiosks? Do the unbanked like kiosks and what do they use them for?
AM: Consumers love the convenience of no lines and no waiting. The unbanked particularly benefit because they can use cash to purchase essential services for their families without the need for internet access, credit cards, or an interpreter. Our kiosks offer a multi-lingual menu with a clear and intuitive interface. It is easy for people to make payments. They have confidence inserting the cash. They pay in one minute and they can see the funds applied right away. Conveniently located kiosks are a big advantage. Our kiosks are wireless so they can be placed almost anywhere.
AH: Can the kiosk reload debit cards? What about bill pay?
AM: Yes, they can reload debit cards and do bill pay. There is no problem integrating bill pay. It is part of what we are doing in this fast developing part of the market. We are ready for it.
AH: What about compliance?
AM: We take compliance issues very seriously. All kiosk components such as card and bill acceptors are approved and secure. The transaction data is encrypted and processed on a secure server.
AH: What can we expect to see in the next generation of kiosk platforms? How will the new platform be configured? Will it be able to perform a variety of services?
AM: PTS Terminals are the next generation of kiosk platform. We can sell multiple services from multiple providers. We can sell prepaid services, prepaid phones, insurance, coupons, and any financial service that a provider wants to sell. There are lots of products to be sold. The question is really about market demand.
AH: Are these products on your drawing board?
AM: We’ve been through every scenario of what could be sold. We are waiting for market demand and compliance approvals. We can supply a button to dispense virtually anything.
AH: What is probably the main attraction about a kiosk?
AM: The kiosk and vending machine has been around for many decades. It connects services to customers without a computer or going online. There are no credit card or ID theft threats involved. You get an instant receipt and instant application of minutes to the phone. And you can do this 24/7.
AH: For a small retailer, what’s the best way to get started with a kiosk?
AM: Our philosophy is to build the most reliable but affordable kiosk. A retailer has to look at the numbers in considering an outright purchase or a leasing option. Leasing will allow smaller retailers to begin generating revenue with less initial investment, enabling them to deploy kiosks in multiple locations. If the retailer already has a payment processor, we can integrate that processor. Kiosks are designed to be worry-free cash generators for retailers and we believe that the PTS kiosk solution is a great product to prove it.
Andrei Mishin is President & CEO, Payment Terminal Systems.
The interview is taken from http://www.prepaid-press.com/wordpress/?page_id=5146
On January 16, 2013