mobile movement: mpos

Efficiency and Ease for the New Era

It's not an understatement to say that the smartphone revolution has significantly affected the payments industry as much as any other aspect of our daily lives. Payment service providers have realized the benefits mobile phones can offer both to them and to their customers and are working on involving mobile in both retail payments and acceptance/point of sale. 

There is both an increased efficiency and ease of use when a customer can eschew the plastic card and rely on their mobile phone and a downloadable mobile app. For merchants there are benefits of card readers small enough to be plugged into mobile phones or tablets, transforming them into a 'mobile point of sale' or mPOS. Some mPOS software vendors also provide optional, handheld docking stations (sleds) that allow the mobile device to read barcodes and print receipts. Customer data is, of course, encrypted and stored in the cloud.

The Benefits of mPOS 

mPOS's origins hail back to 2008, when mobile 'field services' allowed tradespeople to both deliver a service and generate invoices and payment on site. 

Then came Square, allowing the same to small merchants who could previously accept only cash or check. This significantly improved both the small businesses and upped their customer satisfaction. 

When it comes to retail, mPOS saves retailers space while providing a more aesthetically pleasing experience than the traditional, bulky POS technology, which also affects the store's appearance: there is more room for counters and displays.

It also provides secure payments for merchants at craft shows, festivals or farmer's markets. 

mPOS increases customer convenience by removing the need for standing in long lines before completing a sales transaction. With mPOS, customers can pay quickly and from any location, even if that location is outside the store.

There is also the 'endless aisle' feature, allowing customers to order online an item that is currently out of stock at a brick-and-mortar location and have that item then delivered or pick it up themselves at the store. 

Even though mPOS is primarily associated with retail, it has a significant presence in the hospitality industry (from at-table or poolside payment to managing check-in & check-out) and healthcare (both payment and data gathering), as well as in various service industries, ranging from electricians to plumbers to IT.

mPOS Evolution

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The mPOS evolution has now taken another stride in retail: if their mobile phone is a POS, the customers don't have to go looking for one when they decide on buying an item. 

Contactless payment is being encouraged across the board, with mPOS providers launching new solutions all over the world and gaining very positive reception. Even the U.S., traditionally resistant to digital wallets, has been showing interest in in-store mobile commerce. Over two thirds of retailers state that in-store payment acceptance is their top priority. 

But attitudes towards cashless payments can still vary wildly from country to country. In the UK52% of customers reported a dislike of checkout-free stores due to privacy concerns while in India 26% of customers prefer mobile apps over interacting with human employees. Cash is still predominant in places like Eastern Europe or even the US, when it comes to paying for services such as taxi rides, as opposed to France or the Netherlands. Incentives from giants such as Visa or Mastercard are slowly changing the landscape there as well. 

Cloud has come to mPOS in a big way and projections are it will power a significant growth in the mPOS device market by 2025. The market, currently valued at approximately $4.2 billion, is projected to reach $47.7 billion over the next 7 years, with Europe experiencing a particular growth. It is expected that by 2023 25% of all POS transactions will involve mPOS.

Recent Developments

Mastercard, Visa, and NXP Semiconductors are developing mWallet 2Go, mobile payment for IoT-enabled devices. Montblanc will be the first to make use of their offering, incorporating it in their TWIN smartwatch. 

Cloud-based property management systems provider Hotelogix is partnering up with payment gateway solutions provider Airpay Payment Services. Hotelogix will implement Airpay’s end-to-end hotel payment offering to centralize its payment process, using the same acceptance tools that are used with online travel agents, websites and mobile terminals. 

Europe is an increasingly interesting market to PSPs. Alipay has recently raised $14 billion to expand its services into more than 20 European countries by the end of 2018 and Apple Pay is coming to Poland, Norway and Ukraine. Apple Pay has also recently launched Express Transit in Beijing and Shanghai, offering Apple Pay transit-specific services. 

Mobeeweave is preparing to debut an in-person contactless payment acceptance platform in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), using near-field communication (NFC) connectivity and security solutions. 

PayPal has purchased international payments platform Hyperwallet. The purchase is expected to positively affect the currently complex payment needs of gig and freelance workers.