Striving to provide their customers with innovative products, exceptional service and superior technical expertise
By: Sunjay Mathuria
The way VendTek Systems Inc. (VendTek) deals with money on a daily basis is different from what most companies are used to. As a leading transaction processing software company, VendTek oversees prepaid and financial services for its clients. With an ever-growing global presence, VendTek develops software that enables the distribution of various products, from prepaid phone cards to transit passes.
VendTek has a fairly extensive history in Canada. Starting out in 1988, the premise of VendTek remains unchanged: it is still a prepaid distribution company. However, adapting to ongoing trends, VendTek has altered how it delivers its services. Technology has evolved since 1988, and so has VendTek.
“It was once done through kiosks. Those kiosks were sent to various retail locations and would be used to dispense prepaid cards, whether they were phone cards or even lottery tickets,” explains VendTek Chief Operating Officer (COO), Francois Chevallier. “The mechanical component has been replaced by a digital distribution system, which is now our software.”
Chevallier has been with the company for just over two years and has extensive experience managing distribution systems. As COO of VendTek, he takes care of the operations, sales growth, cost maintenance, and marketing and sales programs, worldwide.
Chevallier explains how VendTek’s software is utilized in their two business models: “We can either license the software to an operator who then distributes it to merchants or we can operate our own software.” The former business model is mostly used in the Middle East and Africa, while the latter is used in Canada, the US and Brazil.
The software itself is developed by Vendtek employees located in China, where they program VendTek’s core platform. It is then localized for the local markets where is used: North America, Europe, Brazil, the Middle East and even Africa. While the core platform remains the same each market has its specificities in terms of language, but also in the way they track and distribute the products, security and fraud prevention or even financial tracking.
There are also differences in the telecommunication industries, “for example, you could say in Canada it is basically 85 percent postpaid and 15 prepaid. It’s the exact reverse in Brazil,” says Chevallier. In a general sense, postpaid is when you use a service first and then receive a bill afterward. Most people in Canada have a postpaid contract. Prepaid, on the other hand, is when you buy upfront and then use up to the value that you purchase.
Striving to provide their customers with innovative products, exceptional service and superior technical expertise, VendTek is all about flexibility and reliability. As their website states, working with VendTek has its obvious advantages: “[their] turnkey solutions provide our customers with the capability to capitalize on and operate their network, secure retailing locations and provide the necessary support and marketing to grow their business.”
From a merchant/retailer perspective, VendTek products, which offer popular prepaid services, will be immediate value-added components to their respective stores. The advantages are endless — from increased revenues by attracting new customers to lower costs (reduced physical distribution costs and no inventory control) to the mere convenience of the services.
From a distribution/licensing perspective, VendTek’s turn-key distribution programs “support the evolving needs of retailers while providing all of the necessary tools to support customer sales teams and prepaid programs”. Some advantages include: expanded offerings (more access to popular and specialized prepaid services), ongoing technical training and support, and correspondingly, access to the product innovations and software VendTek has to offer.
At the core of the company is its proprietary product, eFresh, which is currently in use on every continent. First introduced in 1999, eFresh has continuously been developed for new customers, new markets and new applications.
eFresh is a software of its time: it allows products and services to be distributed electronically instead of physically. Operating on a central server and on electronic terminals in retail locations, eFresh offers a secure distribution network. The electronic aspect allows work to be done more efficiently and also creates a more manageable inventory system.
“eFresh is definitely a competitive element based on the stability of the product, the reliability, and the usability,” says Chevallier.
Chevallier explains that VendTek operates like a typical IT company. “One of our core value positions is flexibility of solutions, which is actually an industry trend. We’re seeing more and more specialized solutions for specific products and we have the ability to develop those very specific solutions for specific market needs.”
For example, Chevallier says in Brazil and Nigeria, VendTek has customers that wanted to reduce cash and implement something more flexible and mobile for parking. VendTek was able to tailor to their needs and create a solution that was fully electronic, which works with mobile phones or terminals. By being able to adapt to customers’ various devices or demands — from sophisticated Smartphone types in Canada to more basic cell phones in countries such as Nigeria — VendTek can solve just about any issue or concern in its field.
Doing business in many different countries spanning various continents does not come without its challenges. However, Chevallier notes that, comparatively, there are few industry challenges and that VendTek has become quite skilled at managing its portfolios.
“The most talked about risk is fraud,” says Chevallier. He notes that there have been a few high profile cases of international fraud where people get a hold of prepaid card numbers. However, VendTek is able to mitigate such challenges by continuously updating their systems, which identifies suspect transactions and catches fraudulent ones.
Chevallier also points out that the legal landscape is constantly changing in different countries. “New elements are always coming up regarding fees, security and tracking of transactions. For example, the US and Canada have a very stringent KYC
— know your customers legislation, to avoid money laundering and fraud.”
Whether you are in Canada, Brazil, or the United Arab Emirates, VendTek has your prepaid and postpaid needs covered. By consistently meeting the needs of customers in diverse markets, VendTek’s presence continues to evolve, integrating technology and delivering innovative solutions. As the world evolves, so does VendTek.