TECS acquisition brings Bluefin a full payment stack

Many merchant acquirers are evaluating their POS technology strategy. Do they build the increasingly complex stack of payment software, security and customer management tools in-house? Or do they use the out of the box products provided by the terminal vendors? 

Atlanta based Bluefin believes there is another way. It is positioning itself as a trusted third-party supplier to any business – acquirer, PSP or ISV – managing large estates of payment devices. Bluefin is backing its strategy through the acquisition of TECS, an Austrian managed POS terminal and gateway provider. TECS has built its own modern, high-quality, vendor-agnostic stack. 

TECS was founded in 2000 by Fazlollah Rostamian. He still runs the business and will remain in post after the acquisition closes. Like Bluefin, TECS normally does not sell direct to merchants. Instead, its fifty staff support 14,000 merchants in 17 countries through a partner network of acquirers, PSPs and ISVs including Raiffeisen Bank, Hobex and PayPoint Romania.

TECS deploys and remotely manages payment terminals. It then routes transactions to the merchant’s chosen acquirer or processor. There are few competitors with similar pan-European deployment capability but alternatives to TECS would include AEVI, CCV, Intercard and 3C. Although, mainly focused on POS, TECS does offer an eCommerce payment gateway integrated into a single back office with unified tokenisation. This omni-channel service is helpful for customers trading both online and in stores.

Bluefin, which claims 34,000 customers, offers encrypted and tokenised payments for POS transactions. Most interestingly, it has market leadership in PCI validated Point to point encryption (P2PE) solutions.

P2PE helps merchants ensure payment card data does not enter their store operational systems. This keeps ECR and other software out of scope of PCI reporting, reduces the risk of data breaches and cuts administrative overheads. Software on the payment device is not enough. P2PE solutions need to be key injected in secure facilities and reach the merchant via a documented chain of custody that demonstrates nobody could have tampered with the terminals.

The purchase of TECS gives Bluefin a full stack of payment application, TMS and a merchant plug-in (MPI) to add to its existing point security products. TECS also brings an App Store, merchant portal and transaction viewer as well as providing Bluefin an operational base in Europe. This includes key injection facilities in Vienna and Bratislava which can be used to deploy P2PE devices.

The strong dollar and weak euro make it a good time for American companies to go shopping in Europe. The terms of the acquisition are not disclosed. Neither company publishes its financial results but Bluefin was estimated by one analyst to have a $50m turnover in 2019. Business of Payments estimate TECS turnover to be in the order of $10-15m.