A technology that would eventually place them in the front line of the fight against credit card fraud. Storm’s toughened keypads, keyboards and display screens may seem familiar but the company’s name is not well known. Some of us use their products on a daily basis; at railway ticketing machines, at petrol pumps, at information kiosks in airports and at credit card payment terminals.
However their products are often highly visible but anonymous components of equipment manufactured by other companies. Peter Ward (Storm’s CEO) comments,
Back in 1996 our marketing team predicted that PIN numbers would be used to secure credit card transactions. They also predicted that credit card terminals would not be confined to air-conditioned stores and brightly lit supermarkets. Card payment terminals would be located in exposed, outdoor locations such as petrol stations, car parks, drive-through restaurants, and railway stations.
Storm understood that these Unattended Payment Terminals (referred to as UPTs by the credit card industry) would become a target for organised criminals and terrorist organizations. Credit cards which held data in a magnetic stripe were too easy to copy (or clone), leading to increasing levels of fraud. In Europe a fraudulent transaction using cloned cards occurred every eight seconds. As predicted, this wave of fraud caused the payment card industry to adopt the emerging and more secure ‘Chip and PIN’ card technology.
Storm were ahead of the wave. They had recognised an emerging opportunity
and begun the development of highly secure PIN entry keypads. As PIN became the world’s preferred method of card validation the demand for
Storm’s products grew rapidly. Storm’s secure PINpads and toughened
numeric displays are now used by many of the worlds leading manufacturers of card payment terminals. Continued innovation and development has lead to a second generation of products designed to provide even greater levels of protection for credit and debit card users. As new security standards are mandated by the payment card industry, these new products are predicted to sustain the company’s revenue growth.
The recession that killed so many fledgling companies taught us that we had to continually astonish our customers (and competitors) by innovation and by the speed at which these innovations were brought to the market”,
says Ward. Even now, as UK manufacturing industry faces so many challenges, Storm’s sales, profitability and reputation continue to grow.
Over the years, we’ve also learned the value of running a lean organization,
Ward continued. Now, with 46 permanent employees, the company retains its inventive spirit.
Being small does not prevent a company achieving world class performance. It can make it easier; but you must have the right people!
It is clear Ward firmly believes that Storm
have the ‘right people’. It is somewhat ironic that the company’s products are more widely recognised abroad than in the UK. Most Americans are familiar with Storm’s hardware because they use it to pay for food at ‘America’s favourite drive-in’ restaurant chain. Storm’s PIN entry keypads feature prominently in the restaurant’s television advertising campaign, seen every day by
millions of American consumers. Americans use Storm keyboards at the nation’s largest superstores to
fill-in applications and search inventory. Storm keypads are used to select wash programs and enter coupon codes at the local car wash. War memorials across the USA contain electronic directories navigated by use of Storm keypads and keyboards. Even phone card vending machines feature Storm keypads. In the past two years over 100,000 Storm products have been installed in the USA alone. For more than ten years Swedish drivers have encountered Storm keypads at service stations as they fill their cars and in Iran Storm keypads and displays are being installed to control the allocation of state subsidised fuel.
In overseas markets, our products are widely recognised and even regarded as familiar icons of the urban landscape”,
admits Peter Jarvis (Storm’s Senior Executive VP).
The announcement of their Queen’s Award for Enterprise (International
Trade) is evidence that Storm’s impressive performance has been noticed. As credit and debit card terminals are installed in more unattended or exposed locations, Storm’s name and products are set to become increasingly familiar to the public both in the UK and in further overseas territories.