The Tale of a Merchant: The Payment Challenge



Providing a complete picture of the payment landscape is not easy. Therefore, we decided to include and showcase merchants in our brand new rubric Payment Collective. 


PCM: As a merchant, how do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments to counter fraud, reduce risk and improve your offerings?

Kai: My colleagues and I try to attend relevant conferences and trainings to keep ourselves on the cutting edge in payments.  In addition to this, we follow the business area news, publications and market insights. We also meet local authorities, payment experts and our partners & service providers to exchange information regarding new requirements, threats & possibilities. Neste is a member of a consortium of Finnish oil retailers and we meet several times a year to discuss openly about fraud, risk and other topics like EU regulation changes.


PCM: What are the most important factors from a merchant PoV in regards to payment experience?

Kai: The payment experience should be convenient and intuitive for any customer to use. This is especially important in unattended environments. In addition, a payment transaction should be something that the customer can trust into. Since cost is always a factor, the payment experience should be also cost effective for the merchant.


PCM: What are the challenges faced by merchants when implementing a new payment system?

Kai: Additional cost of buying new equipment (if needed) and software development for POS & cash registers is of course one big factor. With both HW & SW, nobody usually wants to be the minesweeper with an unproved product. If you have brand new payment system, there is a big risk that there are glitches in the system. Failing payments are not the thing what the customers want to experience at our stations. There should be a relevant business case for the merchants as well. This means enough users or at least foreseeable increasing user base to justify the effort to bring a new payment system into the market. I would also say that any new payment system should be faster, easier to use and hopefully also less expensive than traditional debit/credit card transactions.


PCM: How do you make sure you stay compliant in an ever changing payments landscape?

Kai: Neste works closely with our acquirer, PSPs and payment terminal providers to make sure that all parties are on the same level in compliance requirements. Neste has also a service contract with a company, which provides Neste security services, including sys-tem audits and consultancy in PCI-DSS and other requirements.


PCM: How important is payments to Neste, besides it being your source of income?

Kai: Since most of our stations are unmanned, our POS terminals are the most important things for us at the station, in addition to the fuel tanks and pumps of course. Without the payment terminals Neste couldn’t sell our products to our customers. So therefore we do our utmost to provide reliable services which function 24/7/365. Our aim is to provide our customers easy-to-use user interfaces to make their experience at our sta-tions as pleasant as possible. Neste has its own fuel card issuing business and the transactions made with those cards actually make up well over 50% of all fuel purchased from our stations. The fuel cards are extremely important for us as a method of providing better service especially to our B2B customers. Neste wants to be the most innovative oil retail company in the Baltic Sea region and this applies also to payments. We want to offer our customers a possibility to pay with payment methods they prefer to use - be it cash, cards, NFC payments, remote pay-ments or something totally new & different.


PCM: For all merchants out there, can you please give us a piece of advice as to how you can stay ahead of the game in merchant payments?

Kai: Follow the publications and news regarding the payments business area. By doing that you will understand better what is happening out there and what kind of new payment methods are being introduced. Not all of them will fly though, so don’t waste your mon-ey on the marginal ones. Common sense and patience should prevail here. 

Make sure that you choose such payment terminal and/or e-commerce platform service providers who have resources to continuously develop their products and services. They should be 

  • always compliant with the compliance requirements of the schemes and authorities and
  • able to provide you new features and functionalities like support for mobile payments, new schemes, dynamic currency conversion, etc. which will enable you to serve your cus-tomers better.

Always try to consolidate all your volumes under one acquirer. Since acquiring is purely a volume business, the more transactions you bring in, the better price per transaction you should get. Ask for ICF++ pricing to see transparently what you are being charged.


About Kai Lindström

Head of Payments & Payments Systems @ Neste

Kai is working for Neste, a global oil refining and oil retail company that is headquartered in Finland. As a Head of Payments and Payment Systems, Kai is responsible for all things related to payments in Neste’s oil retail business in Finland, Baltic countries and Russia. His team takes care of development and management of Neste’s outdoor payment terminals, cash register systems and other acceptance methods and participates in development of Neste’s own closed loop payment instruments. Kai has worked in payments business since 2004.


About Neste

Neste is a global oil refinery and oil retail company. It is the world’s largest producer of 100% renewable diesel and innovation leader in the use of renewable materials for fuels. The company issues its own closed-loop fuel card for both consumer & corporate customers.