2014 may have been the year that moved mobile point-of-sale from planning to action for businesses of all sizes across the globe. Deployments of mPOS began to take off and existing mobile point of sale players began to expand their product offerings and incorporate additional functionality into existing point-of-sale platforms. From Apple Pay acceptance to mPOS as ATMs to inventory management to incremental sales opportunities via loyalty programs to data analytics and developing country ignition, 2014 was the year that truly proved that mPOS were more than just a dongle and a phone.
The PYMNTS.com Mobile Point of Sale Tracker powered by ROAM has followed the developments of this space each month for the last 24. Here’s some of what we think made 2014 so interesting, mPOS style.
Developing countries get their mPOS groove on.
Increasing card acceptance at new locations in countries that were already accepting of credit and debit card payments was the main goal of the developing country mPOS pioneers. Of note in 2014, was the emergence of mobile point-of-sale opportunities in countries in Asia that lacked westernized point-of-sale infrastructure and card acceptance, including:
- Ezetap in India now serves more than 6 million villages and is converting mPOS terminals into micro-ATMs for cash out, in addition to offering traditional payment acceptance.
- In China, the mPOS startup Qiandaibao raised a hefty investment round in December 2014 to further its focus on lower-tier cities with poor payment structures. Evidence of just how critical services like this are include Qiandaibao’s daily transaction volume of over $81.4 million.
- The Swedish mobile payment company iZettle announced it had reached 50,000 users in the Mexican market.
- The European player SumUp focused on developing its 2013 expansion in Brazil and the Latin American market.
The mPOS Omnichannel duet develops
Omnichannel was as much a development in mPOS as any other aspect of retail. Many merchants saw the value in leveraging mPOS to enable a seamless and end-to-end offering between both brick-and-mortar and online stores, including:
- Amazon Local Register serves the local retailer with a solution that mashes up local services providers with existing Amazon accounts. Although we won’t know for sure for a while, logically, this mPOS solution seems appropriately targeted to those independent online sellers that use Amazon as an online marketplace to deliver an offline service using the Amazon platform.
- Square’s move to ditch its Wallet and replace it with Order seems part of its strategy to create a seamless merchant/consumer experience using its mPOS platform and online ordering application.
- Groupon’s Gnome launched as an iPad tablet integrated with its daily deals platform which is capable of instantly recognizing the Groupon customer.
- Etsy, the world’s largest craft marketplace, entered the payments and mPOS arena with the launch of an Etsy reader, Sell. Sell is intended to cater to the roughly 35 percent of its one million registered merchants who are also selling goods at craft fairs and other physical locations.
mPOS gets bigger as tablets take off
Tablets have always been part of the mPOS portfolio, but 2014 was the year that tablets really took off. Tablets gave many merchants the opportunity to run their businesses and not just accept payment via integrated (and in many cases open) hardware/software platforms. Tablets not only became more functional, some platforms helped merchants future-proof their businesses by incorporating payment acceptance options for NFC, cryptocurrencies, and Apple Pay as well as QR code, EMV, and beacons, including:
- First Data launched its Clover tablet solution, which provides a hardware and open software platform including loyalty solutions, CRM, data analytics and acceptance of Apple Pay.
- SumUp announced the acceptance of Bitcoin in its mPOS solution through BitPay.
- Square struck a deal with Whole Foods to accept payments at checkout at in-store venues, like sandwich, juice, coffee, wine and beer bars.
- ShopKeep had a deal for new customers. Any new customers that signed up for an iPad-based in-store point-of-sale system would get free equipment to handle Apple Pay, contactless, traditional magstripe and (eventually) EMV chip payment cards.
- PayAnywhere 3.0 launched as a way to offer new features and a redesigned user interface focused on speed and simplicity for PayAnywhere Storefront. The new version also integrates with PayPal through Discover’s processing network. This feature makes NAB the first payments company to provide its distribution partners with a margin neutral solution for PayPal transactions aligning with the other four major credit cards.
- For the holidays, mPOS was seen as the way to prevent shopping cart abandonment. mPOS-enabled sales associates were on hand to make the experience inside the store efficient for the consumers who entered. By enabling checkout in store, anywhere, shopping cart abandonment could be reduced.
- ROAM, an Ingenico company, launched ROAMmcm5 to be the first enterprise-ready mobile point of sale (mPOS) solution and the first EMV-ready solution to enable businesses to quickly deploy and centrally manage global mPOS environments. ROAM also launched an EMV compliant mPOS platform for the U.S.
2015 promises to be all this and more as hardware gets slicker and the software platforms that power them become even more robust. EMV-ready solutions will clearly accelerate in the U.S. as the march to the liability shift continues. And everyone, everywhere, will pay attention to enabling new forms of payments and use cases that help make the line between mPOS and POS less clear and the ability to transact anytime, anywhere with anyone more real.