Alto Global Processing: Staples Velocity Lab – Ideation to Innovation at Warp Speed By D.J. Murphy, Editor-in-Chief,

Source Article by: D.J. Murphy, Editor-in-Chief,

You may not know it, but Staples, the big-box office-supplies chain that introduced us to the “easy button,” is an e-commerce juggernaut. In fact, the company ranked second on the most recent Internet Retailer list of the top 500 U.S. e-commerce retailers, trailing only in online sales. But, as focused as Staples is on reaching customers through the online channel, e-commerce sales still only account for 40 percent of its total sales revenue. That relative balance means the company believes it is uniquely positioned to understand and leverage all of its assets—technological and traditional—in omnichannel efforts that are beginning to define retailing.

To that end, Staples, in December of 2012, officially announced the opening of a facility in Cambridge, Mass. in which it could gather the heads of all the various departments responsible for its e-commerce and mobile initiatives. They all would reside at a hub, located within several thousand yards of much of the finest young IT talent outside of Silicon Valley, where close collaboration would accelerate the pace of innovation the company could bring to the most advanced shopping experience.

Staples scouted various locations for what it dubbed its Velocity Lab including San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto and Amsterdam. But, the tech talent pouring out of MIT and Harvard, the proximity to many of their tech partners—like Akamai and Endeca—and the proximity to the company’s suburban Boston headquarters made Cambridge the best spot for the Lab to set up shop.

Staples recognized the pace the industry is changing and the pace we need to keep up with it. Mobile is changing fundamentally how we live our lives,” says Prat Vemana, director of the Velocity Lab and general mobile strategy at Staples. “That gave us the recognition that we need that kind of skill set more. We need people who can think rapidly and move fast.”

Vemana says Staples envisions the facility as an incubator where the company can leverage its incredible strength in e-commerce and traditional retailing and marry it with the tremendous potential mobile has to change the shopping experience for its customers—and to do it quickly.

He notes that Staples already has implemented a mobile infrastructure that includes Websites optimized for smartphones and tablets (the company was among the first retailers to launch a tablet-only app) as well as a mobile-optimized site for Staples had launched all these online properties before the Velocity Lab opened. What the existence of the Lab has done, however, is enable the office-supply giant to brainstorm new ways to leverage its mobile assets to serve its customers. The company also is putting mobile devices in the hands of its in-store associates to increase their productivity and enhance their ability to contribute to a truly omnichannel environment.

“When you look at all our mobile assets, the #1 thing we think about here is how they can help the customer in the shopping journey, no matter where they are and in what channel they’re shopping,” he says. “What are the mobile moments? What are the right moments I need to bring the technology to you so you can actually apply it.”

So, while the technology they’re leveraging is not new, the speed with which they have to move to deliver innovation in the forms that make their customers’ lives easier is. And that’s where the lab comes in, Vemana says.

“The amount of test and learn we need to do in order to innovate is exploding,” he explains. “That requires a true collaboration. If you look at the office here, all the cross-function leads are in the same place. Visual designers, information architects, product managers, project managers, QA, all the leads are in one place. When you’re thinking about an idea or problem and how to make it actually happen, that conversation is happening right here. That is incredible for us. This facility exists to fuse the collaborative element and see if we can push out innovations faster.”

Even the physical design elements of the facility contribute to the speed of innovation. Offices and half-wall cubicles ring a few central bays with comfortable furniture and round tables where informal meetings can take place easily. Also, every wall is literally a blank canvas, on which spur-of-the-moment inspiration can be recorded in dry-erase marker.

The Velocity Lab had been up and running for months before the official launch in December 2012, and an example of how the team worked to bring innovations encompassing all its sales channels to Staples customers could be found in the weeks leading up to Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving that has become one of the most important shopping days of the year for consumers and retailers.

The team wanted to take advantage of the fact that retailers had seen a more than 15 percent increase in mobile traffic on the previous Black Friday with projections for 2012 even higher. Vemana, seeking out his “mobile moments,” wanted to leverage that to make the holiday shopping experience, as a whole, more convenient and valuable to their customers. The conversation that ensued ranged from flash sales to store-only vs. online coupons to geofencing.

“This was a lively conversation, just sitting kicking around ideas and we said, ‘why don’t we do it?’, he remembers. “From ideation to realization it was three weeks. We thought through it, went live and it was an incredible success for us. It was possible because they were all in one place. They just went for it. That’s the kind of culture we’re trying to cultivate.”

The launch of the lab has coincided with a reinvention of Staples’ strategy that more closely aligns the e-commerce and in store businesses, with an emphasis online and mobile, Vemana says. Staples will continue to leverage the Velocity Lab not only to pump out digital innovation, but to use that innovation to bolster an in-store experience in ways that pure e-commerce plays like Amazon and Google can’t.

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Alto Global Processing: Visa and Ethoca Collaborate to Help eCommerce Merchants Reduce Fraud


Alto Global Processing is proud to announce the Collaboration of Visa with Ethoca developed Fraud Reduction Tools.


Visa Fraud Intelligence Enhances Issuer-to-Merchant Alerts Service, Available Through Ethoca and CyberSource

FOSTER CITY, Calif. and TORONTO, June 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Visa and Ethoca are working together on a service that will notify eCommerce merchants of fraudulent transactions, allowing them to quickly stop the fulfillment process. The service is intended to help merchants reduce fraud losses and associated chargeback costs. The Visa-enhanced service is currently available to U.S. and Brazil merchants through Ethoca and also through CyberSource, a leading global payment management company and wholly-owned subsidiary of Visa Inc.

Using near real-time information from Visa on confirmed fraud transactions, Ethoca is able to send secure alerts to the affected merchants in the critical 24-72 hour window between when eCommerce orders are placed and when they are fulfilled or shipped, a significant reduction in time from the current average of three to six weeks it takes for merchants to be notified.

The offering compares transactions from Ethoca’s merchant customer base against fraud data sent by Visa and participating issuers. In the event a purchase is confirmed as fraudulent, Ethoca’s platform immediately notifies the merchant through its alerts dashboard. This early warning gives merchants more time to stop the fulfillment process, limiting fraud losses. An analysis of past transactions suggests Ethoca Alerts enhanced by Visa data could help prevent $300 million in fraud annually.

“We are excited about this new layer of security that we hope will make a real difference in an online merchant’s fraud losses,” said Silvio Tavares, global head of information products, Visa Inc. “Our relationship with Ethoca is another way that we are responsibly using our network intelligence and fraud information to deliver valuable services to merchants.”

U.S. online retail sales are predicted to reach $370 billion by 2017, up from $231 billion in 2012, according to Forrester Research[1]. Maintaining strong fraud prevention defenses will be important if merchants are going to make the most out of the opportunity ahead.

“The biggest differentiator in our service is that we provide merchants with timely access to information not previously available,” said Andre Edelbrock, Ethoca CEO. “Our collaborative approach to fraud management enables Visa, issuers and merchants to connect and work together toward a common purpose of reducing fraud.”

Ethoca’s proven platform catches up to 73 percent of transactions authorized by issuers that are subsequently confirmed by consumers as fraud, and the performance is expected to be further enhanced by the inclusion of Visa data. Ethoca’s growing list of customers includes more than 200 well-known eCommerce brands including 9 of the top 10 internet retailers[2].

About Ethoca – Ethoca is a secure network for card issuers and merchants to connect and work collaboratively outside the payment network in a unique and powerful way. Ethoca helps card issuers and online merchants recapture lost revenues and fraud that slips through the cracks of their defences. To find out more, please visit

About Visa Inc. – Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments. We operate one of the world’s most advanced processing networks–VisaNet–that is capable of handling more than 30,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit

[1] “U.S. Online Retail Sales to Reach $370 Billion by 2017,” Forrester Research, Inc., March 13, 2013.

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[2] As ranked by Internet Retailer in its annual Top 500 Guide (2013 Edition).

SOURCE Visa Inc.

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Company Profile: No Stopping Alto Global by John Stuart

Attention online payment processors: there’s a new kid on the adult block. Alto Global Processing recently launched what promises to be a unique and specialized approach to private merchant accounts through its revolutionary “Payment Gateway.”

“Alto Global Processing is made up of three entities aligned under our investing company,” explains Albert Lazarito, the firm’s chief operating officer.

“Like many of the billing companies in today’s market, there are two different avenues for affiliate programs and merchant processing services. One is the IPSP model and the other is the issuing of private merchant accounts. We are on the private account side. We work with numerous banks around the world and we provide affiliate programs or any merchant that works in the high-risk area.

“We evaluate their processing needs and fit them with the right banks. This allows the customers to get their own merchant account with Visa, MasterCard and other major cards rather than working through the IPSP model. This is what our group specializes in.”

The second business entity under the Alto Global umbrella is a large mainstream non-adult company which works through the proprietary “Payment Gateway” owned by the firm, using the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology. This system passes credit card data, authorization requests and authorization responses over the Internet using encryption. This transaction information goes to a bank of choice via the Payment Gateway and the status of the card is reviewed for available credit and funds. After numerous fraud checks, the transaction is verified and an authorization code goes back to the Payment Gateway. At the same time, the encrypted information goes to the merchant’s origin of payment, where the transaction is either authorized or declined.

‘With the investment money,” Lazarito says, “we looked at how we could take this great piece of code in that gateway and use it in the adult arena.”

The success in doing this has made Alto Global Processing the third successful partner in the team. The company also boasts of its own affiliate program.

“By having three groups it allows us to specialize on the merchant side,” Lazarito says. “We’ve been doing this for years, so we have a good understanding of what banking needs merchants have and we can build a strong network of merchants that we’ve worked with for years. The relationships that already existed now translate to potential customers for Alto Global Processing. The three entities really give us an opportunity to understand the market with very specialized managers. This was no accident. It was done in a very strategic manner, recruiting the right partners and managers to run the operation.”

Lazarito definitely is a major part of the strategy, having spent 12 years working in the adult space and running four of the largest online affiliate programs there. Lazarito also managed membership pay sites, so he brought a solid background in webmaster needs to Alto Global.

Perhaps the chief advantage Lazarito and his new company offer lies in the understanding of banks and the quality and quantity of banking partners. Lazarito claims that Alto Global spent two years securing the right kind of banking partners while developing the technology for the gateway.

“It only takes a couple of bad apples to put a bank heavily saturated with high-risk clients out of business,” Lazarito cautions. “In the last year, the trend has been for really strong foreign banks to shut down due to high-risk adult clients who commit fraud. So the private merchant today has become much more selective, and we as registered agents have to be much more diligent. If not, the banks will come down hard on us.

‘We’ve made sure that we’ve been cooperative with the bureaucracy of the Visa-type companies. We’ve developed close ties with their risk managers, which is something many processors can’t do because they don’t have existing relationships.

“Another advantage we have is our relationship with a wide variety of banking options outside of the EU. The EU banks have taken on a lot of high-risk adult clients and some of them have defaulted due to their faulty business models. By getting away from the EU banks, we discovered there’s a lot less volatility in finding banks that don’t have a large number of high-risk merchants. It’s unique that we have a very good cross section of banks from places like Latin America, Tunisia, South America and Russia. Most processors can’t offer these banks to their clients.

“This is what our competitive market demands that we do now. It takes a lot of time to establish relationships with banks around the world. It certainly won’t happen overnight, because the toughest decisions banks have to make involves processing. And that goes for the merchants, too. If a merchant has a good relationship with a certain bank, we’d have to do something very significantly valuable for the merchant to make him agree to change to one of our banks. This requires a lot of strong relationships with banks as well as providing great customer service.”

Lazarito stresses that the wide number of banks partnering with Alto Global is the single greatest advantage the firm offers webmasters and the most important aspect that sets the company apart from the fierce competition in online payment processing.

“Having been on the merchant side for years, we understand the needs of merchants completely,” says Lazarito. “We’ve customized the experience of managing your own private merchant account for the adult webmaster. It’s become impossible, with all the changes in the economy, to run a status quo situation where everyone has the same type of business. As a banking partner, you need to adapt to the changing needs of the merchants, and we do that very well. The new site owners may have VOD, or a dating site, or live cams, and those are massive undertakings that require a different banking strategy for each. You have to be well versed to understand the needs of each company because they have so many different divisions under one roof. You have to be flexible, because every set of needs is different.”

Based on the time and trouble that Alto Global took to insure meeting the varied needs of webmasters and banks, the firm’s business model looks like a winner.

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Albert Lazarito Joins Alto Global Processing as COO

MIAMI — Recently launched Alto Global Processing has tapped industry veteran Albert Lazarito as its new chief operating officer.

“Our team has invested a significant amount of time, resources and funding to ensure our product and services were planned and executed in the manner necessary for us to compete,” CEO Luca Bizzotto said. “With this in mind, we recruited Albert and immediately he has proven to be the perfect fit.

“I have had the pleasure to work with him for a number of years as program operators, and I am confident his longevity in the industry speaks volumes for future ongoing success in the high-risk billing environment.”

Lazarito was the first employee with PlatinumBucks, and later moved on to as its vice president.

“I have been very blessed with my entire career,” Lazarito said. “I have been the right hand person to four strong affiliate programs, and now I have the ability to shift gears and lend my merchant experience to serve the billing sector of thehigh-risk adult space.”

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Alto Global Processing Launches

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Alto Global Processing has announced the official launch of the company.

The company said the team was formed by combining the strengths of three entities including technology, banking and operational partners.

Alto Global Processing specializes in the issuing of private merchant services and gateway services in the high-risk merchant sector of the online payment processing space.

The management team of Alto Global Processing said it had monitored and reviewed the state of the online billing industry and is confident that its business model will enable the company to be competitive due to the team’s experience, banking relationships and access to sophisticated technology.

“The entire online adult industry has rapidly evolved over the past two years in a manner that makes the business environment more challenging than ever,” CEO Luca Bizzotto said.

“Along with an increase in affiliate programs competing, decrease in quality webmasters and access to free content, the credit card association has become more savvy with policing merchants who continue to be overly aggressive and ultimately forcing bank closures due to fraudulent practices. So, to combat these trends, Alto Global Processing has taken a unique approach to solidifying their position as a banking partner to merchants.

The company said that in order to service merchants by offering them private merchant accounts, Alto Global Processing is dedicated to seeking banking relationships where there is true investment into the bank.

“More specifically, Alto Global Processing’s banking portfolio consists of banks that are not saturated with typical adult clients,” the company said.

“This minimizes the risk in associating Alto Global Processing merchants with those merchants who continue to be overly aggressive. Furthermore, Alto Global Processing seeks their preferred banking relationships to be premised on an ownership into the banking BIN and/or has an exclusive relationship with the bank and/or can directly underwrite merchants.”

The company said Alto Global Processing’s bank investment becomes more beneficial for clients and merchants in the ability to offer competitive rates, turn applications around in a quicker manner, to see the ‘big picture’ of a merchant, and to have more control in ensuring the merchant processes at its highest potential.

The company said this philosophy extends to Alto Global Processing gateway services. The team owns the code behind the platform giving clients access to custom services, discounted fees and customer service.

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