Welcome to the monthly mPOS Tracker, a PYMNTS Special Report sponsored by ROAM. In this report, we rank the players that we track, and score these players based on numbers and types of devices used, geographies where solutions are implemented, the number of payment types accepted, and more.

This month’s report highlights the fact that mPOS – as ATMs, inventory management tools, loyalty programs and more – took off in 2014, which quickly became the year mPOS went mainstream. Apple Pay’s launch stirred things up, and existing POS platforms reached a whole new level of functionality. Existing players expanded upon their product offerings while new players continued to crowd the space and up the competition. 2015’s first ROAM mPOS Tracker examines and tracks these changes in the last 12 months — the year that truly proved mPOS was more than just a dongle and a phone.

Over the course of 2014, 16 players saw a score change as a result of additional functionality built into their platforms. Several key themes that emerged surrounded power ecosystems, emerging country use cases, omnichannel, enhanced functionality, security, vertical focus, ROI, tablets, and partnerships lost and found.

As the market for mPOS has matured, there has been an increasing emphasis on creating platforms that power ecosystems and incent developers to create new applications that serve the customers of that platform. In addition, the rise of mPOS opportunities and platforms in countries in the Middle East and Asia that previously lacked westernized POS infrastructure led to higher card acceptance in these areas.

Merchants also saw an increasing need in leveraging mPOS to enable a seamless and end-to-end offering between online and physical stores; mPOS tablets became more functional – and all the while, in the era of data breaches, mPOS security became more of a concern. All layers of security, including the enablement of EMV for mPOS devices, are thus being revisited.

The move from dongles and phones to tablets also took hold as part of mPOS’ coming of age and market. A number of new players entered the market with tablet solutions that replaced POS terminals, helping merchants better run their business with easy access to apps.

To close out the year, in December, we added four new players to the mPOS Tracker: Bitstraat, Porta POS, Swiftch, and Swiftch. We also updated the scores of ten players: Bindo, CreditCall, Cardflight, iZettle, NCR Silver, PayPal Here, Revel Systems, ShopKeep, Square and Verifone. Details on these entrants and updates can be found in the report below.

Three key takeaways from December include:

1) Line Busting Goes Universal. Just as merchants feared losing customers in the holiday shopping madness due to long checkout lines, restaurants and QSRs have an increasing focus on using mPOS for line busting as well.

2) Integration Is Essential: Using a third-party app is often appealing because it doesn’t require a merchant to develop, build and implement it. Yet, if it isn’t integrated with company’s existing POS system, it may not be PCI compliant or have a mismatched loyalty program or branding. mPOS systems that offer a seamless loyalty experience and program have the opportunity to take the lead.

3) Is P2P The mPOS On Ramp? Many speculate that Venmo, with its growing customer base and Bluetooth LE functionality, could make for an interesting addition to an existing mPOS platform. Not only could people pay merchants with Venmo, but merchants could also target and communicate with potential customers via the app.

Alissa McCue

Alissa McCue

Alissa McCue has over 10 years of marketing and public relations experience working for top brands in retail and technology. As Senior Manager of Public Relations at ShopKeep, a leading iPad Point of Sale System, Alissa is focused on highlighting ShopKeep's major achievements and thought leadership in the POS and technology space for independent businesses.