A recent flurry of mobile payment rollouts signals a potential sea change in how payments are processed, with both traditional merchants and business sectors not previously embraced by the payments industry clearly within the mobile scope.
"One of the brighter opportunities to take this upstream into larger and midsize businesses is that there's a tremendous demand to move payments away from the counter," said Marc Gardner, Founder and President of North American Bancard. "And there's a tremendous demand to enable the software that's resident on the smart phone to communicate back to the retail POS solution."
NAB recently removed price as a barrier to mobile payment adoption by introducing its new Pay Anywhere mobile application software and card reader accessory free to approved merchants and individuals.
Upon activation, users pay a flat transaction fee and set percentages for swiped and keyed entries. According to NAB, no monthly fees or any other fees will be charged for the use of its mobile payment system.
"We're enabling our sales partners the ability to roll this pricing scheme out not only on a B2B perspective, but on a P2P perspective, which is really growing the amount of prospective leads," Gardner said.
"We're facilitating the merchant or individual with the ability to swipe the card, which is materially less expensive than key-entering a card on the association's interchange rate structure. Think of PayPal, but with the card being present," he added.
Another major player betting on mobile is VeriFone Inc., which previewed its PAYware Mobile Enterprise during the National Retail Federation Show in January 2011. PAYware is a secure mobile card acceptance solution that targets large retailers. In an earlier development, VeriFone inked a deal that will expand PayPal mobile payment acceptance using VeriFone's PAYware Mobile card encryption sleeve for the Apple Inc. iPhone to support card-based payments.
"With PAYware Mobile Enterprise, retailers can revolutionize customer service and store operations by utilizing mobile applications and secure payment acceptance integrated with existing POS infrastructures," Erik Vlugt, VeriFone Vice President of Product Marketing explained in a statement about the solution.
"VeriFone's card encryption and tokenization solution for smart devices isolates payment actions to ensure retailers can maintain a secure payment environment."
According to Pete Bartolik of VeriFone Media Relations, there is no published fee structure for the PAYware enterprise solution; pricing will be unique to each situation.
In late 2010, Transaction Wireless launched wCharge, an on-demand mobile POS terminal application targeting small mobile merchants and enterprise-class businesses.
"Recently, we've gone through our reseller partners, and we've been opening up enterprise customers," said Steve King, Marketing Director for Transaction Wireless. "Hence, we've had to evolve our mobile environment." The company charges a monthly fee for its service.
In addition, Charge Anywhere LLC, a multiplatform smart-phone payment solution provider, has launched a mobile payment app and gateway that will support multiple tender types, including credit card, cash, check and ACH payments.
Also, as of this writing, Sage Payment Solutions is on the verge of releasing Sage Mobile Payments for small and midsize businesses (SMBs).
"We believe that when it comes to mobile payments, a reasonable monthly fee and no additional markup on processing fees is much more cost-effective for the SMB customer," said Greg Hammermaster, President of SPS. The company's mobile solution will connect other POS terminals with the Sage Exchange integrated payment platform.
And these are just a sampling of the companies hungry for a slice of the mobile pie. Hammermaster suggested that payment professionals who are weighing mobile payment options view mobile payments as an additional component of the merchant transaction environment, not a stand-alone product or profit center. This applies especially to larger retail enterprises, he said.
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