Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Atlanta, Bluefin is a global leader in payment and data security with offices in Chicago and Waterford.

Bluefin specialises in PCI-validated point-to-point encryption (P2PE) solutions, which immediately encrypt cardholder data upon entry in the payment terminal. This prevents clear-text data from reaching an organisation’s system where it could be exposed in the event of a breach.

The company provides PCI P2PE through its proprietary gateway, PayConex, and also through its Decryptx decryption-as-a-service (DaaS) solution. Decryptx enables any payment processor, gateway or integrated software vendor (ISV) globally to offer Bluefin’s validated P2PE solution on their platform through an API connection with Decryptx.

Stopping cybercriminals
“Bluefin is a fintech company that offers payment and cybersecurity solutions to businesses globally,” explained Ruston Miles, Bluefin founder and chief strategy officer.

“The name is a mashup of these two concepts: ‘blue’ which emotes the trust and security that Bluefin’s cybersecurity technologies provide and ‘fin’ which denotes the financial technology that underpins our payment platforms and solutions."

“Bluefin’s industry leading payment device encryption empowers over 125 connected partners worldwide, who in turn power thousands of merchants and secure hundreds of thousands of payment devices with encryption.”

Gerard Kelleher, VP and chief of staff at Bluefin, Waterford added: “Cardholder data – including the cardholder’s name, credit card number, expiry date, CCV and so on – is enormously valuable."

“Cybercriminals get a hold of this data and use it online for low value one or two cent transactions. If that works, they buy a TV or even a car using the data. They test what they’ve got first and then make a high value purchase.”

“We offer encryption and decryption as a service”, he continued. “We protect the payment data and reduce its value to the criminals. All data is encrypted immediately and sent to our processing centre where it is decrypted before being securely relayed to the partner or payment processor.”

Power of Decryptx
Where the Bluefin service really comes into its own is the way in which it facilitates merchants to securely accept payments. Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards grow ever more stringent with each passing year, and failure to comply can mean heavy penalties.

“When merchants apply to accept credit cards, they have to pass an audit and are then audited annually by PCI,” Kelleher pointed out.

“They have to complete a self-assessment questionnaire with, in some cases for very large merchants, 329 questions on it each year. The form covers the devices used, how they handle the cards, the software, the hardware, firewalls, and so on. The audit process can involve vast expenditure and if they do not pass, the merchant can be subject to additional charges and fees.”

Bluefin’s PCI P2PE solutions reduce the number of questions to 33, making the audit a far more straightforward and much less costly process.

“Once they use Bluefin’s P2PE solution, they qualify for the reduced PCI questionnaire”, said Kelleher. “We are selling peace of mind and helping to build resilience in payments.”

Role of IDA Ireland
Bluefin’s PayConex platform includes P2PE plus processing, whereas Decryptx “decouples” the P2PE portion from payment processing and can be used by Bluefin partners.

Kelleher continued: “PayConex is Bluefin’s full payment processing platform, backed by security technologies including P2PE, tokenization and EMV. We offer PayConex in North America where we are very strong in a number of key sectors such as education and healthcare."

“Overall, growth for the company is very good and we now have 110 connected partners in 30 countries providing our P2PE solutions, as well as 17 issued patents in Japan, the US and the EU, with another 18 patents pending. We are very bullish for the next two years.”

The company’s Waterford operation opened in 2015 to provide a 24/7 network operating centre (NOC) to monitor Bluefin’s security and payment processing platforms in North America and elsewhere.
“Our journey to Waterford began in 2014 when the company started to look at international expansion. We worked closely with IDA Ireland and a number of locations, including Dublin, were considered. Waterford was put forward as well, and the US management met with companies in Waterford, the higher education institutes and so on and were impressed.”

The availability of a suitable premises and other factors were also important.
Kelleher said: “The IDA provided support for onboarding of staff. They put us in touch with recruitment agencies and helped us hire staff and fill leadership roles. We opened in September 2015 with five people."

“In 2016, we expanded the NOC team by adding a dedicated weekend team. We also onboarded a development team along with quality assurance and some product integration work. We continued to add services through 2017 and 2018. We added cloud service expertise and hired a certification analyst this year and now have 22 people and are still growing.”

International flavour
The Waterford team has been very proactive in its approach to expanding its role within the organisation. “Our software developers are co-creating elements of the product offerings with the team in America”, said Kelleher.

“We have also taken on project management work. The fact that we took on two more people on the technology side is a very strong vote of confidence in us from America. We are now partnering with a consultant on go to market strategies for Bluefin in the EMEA region.”

Recruiting the highly qualified and specialised staff required for the business hasn’t proven difficult.
“We worked closely with local recruitment agencies as well as WIT. We have attracted people back from outside Waterford. I was living in Cork, another staff member came back from Dublin, and we have an employee who commutes from Kildare instead of from there to Dublin”, Kelleher added.
“He is going against the traffic each way. We now have people from five or six countries including France, Italy, China, Estonia, Slovakia, Portugal as well as Ireland. There is a real international flavour to our team here.”

Waterford is a very attractive option from both a career and a lifestyle point of view. “Waterford is certainly not a disadvantage as a location”, Kelleher added. “We built the team here from the bottom up and we are collaborating with North America on career opportunities for our employees to realize their career goals within Bluefin. We are also in the process of collaborating with WIT on talking students on placement in 2020”.

Barry McCall