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14 December 2012

The Cloud And Mobile POS: A Match Made In Heaven

At the intersection of mobile POS and the cloud, you’ll find payments Nirvana.

That’s how Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster characterized the intertwining of two of payments’ most dynamic industries, at a time when mobile purchases, merchant interest in data and payments flexibility are of ever-increasing importance.

Webster spoke with Jason Richelson, CEO of ShopKeep, and Ken Paull, CEO of ROAM, to discuss that intersection, as well as the evolving mobile point of sale industry, the importance of tablets and more.

“There are probably 200 apps in the App Store that allow you to take a credit card swipe, and if you consider that mobile point of sale, then yes, there’s a lot of players out here,” Richelson said. “But I can count on a few fingers how many players out there are servicing the merchant 360 degrees, and that was the problem I saw as a retailer. It wasn’t about mobile point of sale, per say, as much as it was around all the problems with point of sale systems. “

According to Richelson, true mobile point of sale players need to be able to address sales strategies, support issues, technical problems, data storage and any other retailing needs that may arise.

“We’ve now realized that by having a cloud-based point of sale system with the front end running on tablets, we can deliver a whole bunch of other interesting stuff to consumers, which is what a whole lot of other people out there are not doing,” Richelson said.

“A lot of these guys are just helping people swipe credit cards.”

Paull pointed out an interesting juxtaposition between ROAM and ShopKeep, noting that the two companies are both taking technologies that exist at one end of the merchant size spectrum and attempting to make them applicable for those on the other side as well.

“It’s interesting, what Jason had to say, because in essence what I see his company doing … is taking a lot of functionality that’s being used by enterprise accounts down market into smaller firms that can leverage the crowd in a very focused way for their point of sale system,” Paull noted.

“At the same time, ROAM is very active in helping taking technology that has been down at the bottom with smaller merchants and moving it up market. We’re both coming at it at different angels, and there is some intersection.”

Paull also noted an “intersection” between ROAM and ShopKeep in that his company is attempting to broaden its support features, such as its basic inventory functions, while ShopKeep is expanding its payments capabilities.

“There’s a lot of activity with both this technology coming down and up market, and colliding in some respects,” Paull said.

How do the two companies view the mPOS industry growing and changing in the future?

Richelson cited tablets as a key player, and made the bold prediction that within the next three years, 50 percent of POS terminals will incorporate tablet use for cashiering.

“We’re already seeing it, we’re seeing a huge increase in adoption and as upgrade cycles change, as people are more or less forced to take different payments options … you’re going to start to see it really snowball over the next few years,” Richelson said.

Paull declined to confirm Richelson’s aggressive timeframe prediction, but agreed that tablets are having a major impact on the POS industry, and noted that EMV will force the industry to change as well.

“There’s no doubt that people are underestimating the coming of tablets, and I think it’s a huge trend, and I think that what a lot of people haven’t thought about is the combination of tablets and EMV,” he said.

“I think there’s going to be quite a fallout of folks … in terms of small players continuing to participate in providing an end-to-end solution, because I think this is going to require a much more sophisticated solution with EMV.”

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