When Leaf launched its custom built LeafPresenter POS tablet and LeafBusiness platform, the initial goal was to transform the point-of-sale into the "point-of-smart." This evolution was based on an underutilized aspect of payments – the aggregation of data collected from transaction receipts – to deliver actionable business intelligence to owners of small and midsize businesses (SMBs).
Leaf claimed to have developed the first mobile payment platform to take an agnostic approach to payment acceptance, thus enabling SMBs to choose the payment providers that best fit their needs.
The company also reported it was first to open its technology platform to third-party developers. In time, an apps marketplace emerged as did the Leaf Membership Network, making it possible for merchant acquirers to bundle Leaf's platform with their own payment products and services.
During the past year, Leaf added key personnel and moved to a larger 15,000-square-foot facility in the heart of technology-centric Cambridge, Mass. In October 2013, Heartland Payment Systems Inc., a Leaf distribution partner, committed $20 million in institutional funding to help fuel Leaf's continued expansion.
In May 2014, Leaf promoted Sarah McCrary from Chief Operating Officer to Chief Executive Officer, replacing outgoing co-founder and CEO Aron Schwarzkopf. Previously, she served as Strategic Planning Director at Heartland, where she collaborated to co-invent Heartland's E3 end-to-end encryption technology. Amid its expansion, the company’s overall product vision has remained intact. "The platform behind all of our solutions is designed from the ground up to interconnect with third-party apps and services," McCrary said. "To successfully run a business requires each fragment to track services, and Leaf organizes them to automate those tasks."
Data security is also a top priority for Leaf. "Our proprietary tablet device was really built to distinguish from a consumer tablet, so the hardware architecture is distinct from a consumer tablet with regard to the fact that you're creating a separate physical environment for that cardholder data and for all of that sensitive data," McCrary said. "It's built with that data security concept in mind."
McCrary believes we're only beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of how mobile operating systems, hardware, cloud and web-based services will interface to permanently change how business services and business data are supported. McCrary expects Leaf will play a vital role in this developing ecosystem.
The company places a high value on branding for its ISO and merchant level salesperson channel partners in today's integrated business model. "Leaf's idea was to help our partners elevate branding to make them more prominent, so that for those who participate the benefit is every time a card is swiped you're getting that brand flashing up where you see the name and logo," McCrary noted.
McCrary further described how branding extends online, stating, "As a business operator when you go into your online portal to manage and get your analytics, a piece of the dashboard says, 'Here are your apps' and under your credit card or gift card you have that branding called out. If you hover over that, then you're getting feedback that says, 'We're your service provider. This is how you contact us if you have any questions.'"
In restaurants where tablet usage is expected to surge, Leaf is working to differentiate itself. "We are focusing very heavily on how our distinct form factor and device factor really plays well into the fast casual and light table service market, which is unlike a lot of our competitors," McCrary said. "We are completely optimized from picking up the unit; it's in a portrait landscape, it's a mobile interface and the UI is completely optimized for conversational ordering."
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