Mobile payments is a HOT topic today. Even with the first of several EMV deadlines on the horizon (October 2012), cloud wallets are stealing headlines left and right, and making a lot of noise everywhere from conferences and tradeshows, to the editorial pages of industry vertical web sites. On the retail front, smart phones and tablets are now doubling as POS devices that do everything but bag your purchases for you. Players from all stripes are entering the market almost daily. It truly is an amazing time.
But while this new era of mobile payments and mobile retailing is understandably getting the lion’s share of the attention, there’s another story going on that is arguably just as deserving and one that has been completely overlooked: The rise of the wireless POS terminal.
To clarify, we’re not talking about products like our PAYware Mobile Enterprise and SAIL devices that merge with your mobile; what we mean here by wireless POS are the larger handheld devices that provide most of the features of their fixed countertop cousins, but in a form factor that you can carry around with you whether inside or outside your business. And while, much of the populace probably doesn’t innately think “Hey, that’s a wireless POS terminal” as they are using it, these solutions are all around us and in fact, market analysts, Technavio, put the Global Wireless POS Terminal market at around $4.5 billion by 2014.
Part of the reason this POS segment has received less attention is really just about the maturation cycle. Today’s point of sale devices, compared to when they launched just a few years ago, are significantly less expensive, and are faster and more flexible than ever before. And where today’s HOT mobile payment devices lack some features like NFC and EMV, largely because of their form factor, wireless POS include those features and more, such as multimedia, faster processors, huge memory, smaller data packets, and can even be updated over the air, which equates to less down time for your POS, or fewer “spares” as backups for when you need to take your primaries offline for updates.
Where mobile “add on” devices are geared more toward micro-merchants, wireless POS terminals can really be used by any sized business and provide the best solution for both traditional storefronts as well as non-traditional segments (e.g., professional services, in-home repair, retail w/tip service and seasonal businesses) that want a powerful, mobile, PCI-compliant solution that someone’s not just going to pick up and walk away with like they might a smaller, less substantial product.
And even micro-merchants today using personal smart phones to accept payments need to think what happens when they (hopefully!) start processing multiple transactions in rapid-fire order. Will that personal mobile phone-based payment solution remain the optimum choice?