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Payments / FinTech Innovation / Mobile Payments

Paying in the World of A.I.

Jade Shames
Staff Writer
Executive Summary
POS pioneer and creator of the PayFinders app, Brian Roemmele, describes his payments journey and vision for the future.

In the late ‘70s  and early ‘80s, Brian Roemmele started “black boxing” Verifone ZON devices. “They were like little computers,” he says. He rigged the devices to do different things for merchants. For an auto parts store, he used his modified devices to take inventory. For another store, he was able to make a simple alarm system. He compounded these features and, within a relatively short amount of time, amassed thousands of clients. And this was an age where credit card processing wasn’t seen as a necessity.

“I couldn’t convince a restaurant at the airport that they needed to have a way to process credit cards,” he explains. Back then, it seemed more necessary to have “check guarantee,” a feature he added to the device that would allow a customer to enter their ID and check information, and if their check bounced, a company would cover the payment to the merchant and then track down the customer for payment plus interest.

In the future, you won’t have a card…you may not even have a device!
Brian Roemmele

Eventually, once people started really noticing the value Brian was bringing to their business, a company known as Booksamillion contacted him with a simple request: build an online payment system so that they could sell books over the “Internets.”

“It wasn’t even called the Web back then, it was Internets with an S,” says Brian.

This particular feat of engineering drew the attention of Jeff Bezos…but that’s another story.

Given Roemmele’s considerable contributions to the payments industry, we asked him his thoughts on where the industry is heading. He says there are three things to consider:     

  • The easiest way to do something is to say it.
  • A.I. is going to get better.
  • A.I. will know more about us than anyone else.


"In the future, you won’t have a card…you may not even have a device! And that’s why, as an industry leader, you need to be extendible. That’s why I used Verifone terminals back in the 80’s. They were built to be extendible…”

Brian mentioned the new Verifone Carbon and Commerce Platform initiative as examples of ways we’re continuing this legacy of extendibility. It’s important for a company to look to the future, but it’s even more important for a company to plan for it.­

How This Impacts

"Voice will be our interface.”

“We’re getting better at intent extraction,” which differs from voice recognition in the sense that it identifies meaning and not just what was said. Brian cites Alexa and Viv as prime examples of we’re heading. Instead of plugging in your credit card number over a keyboard, you can simply say, “Buy me a roll of paper towels,” and boom! You’ve just bought paper towels.

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