By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC
The POS universe is an expanding constellation of products and services. This horoscope, based on the Zodiac, comprises 11 "signs" that represent the top processing systems and compatible communications methods for 2010. This chart will enhance, but not necessarily replace, traditional manufacturing forecasts for those of us in the hardware trade.
2010 will be a good year for the dial terminal, which made its debut more than 20 years ago. Dial modems, once considered antiquated when compared to faster Ethernet, Wi-Fi and cellular communications, are making a comeback.
Smaller merchants with low transaction volumes can save the expense of Ethernet and airtime fees, and the cost of semi-annual scans now required by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) for merchants who process card data over broadband cables or Wi-Fi.
We'll see continued growth in customer-facing devices in 2010, as ISOs make integrated POS and cash register systems more affordable for smaller merchants. These PIN pads will come in a variety of styles, from signature pads on metal stands to smaller hand-held devices on flexible cables. New generation PIN pads will feature faster response times, instant coupons, and additional payment options like combinations of points and cash.
The explosive growth of wireless solutions will continue to rock the payments world in 2010. As mobile terminals become more affordable, and virtual terminals on laptops and smart phones gain popularity, traditional merchants will increasingly adopt mobile payment platforms for seasonal and occasional use in their tradeshow, point-of-delivery and special event activities.
There will be fewer barriers to entry for cash-only mobile merchants who can choose from an array of secure and affordable systems to process card payments.
2010 will usher in a new age of thin POS solutions. Merchants can choose mobile, virtual or host-based systems designed to securely and remotely manage cardholder data. These solutions offer cost-effective alternatives for merchants concerned with PCI security. By outsourcing to a trusted network, merchants will no longer have to invest in larger memory terminals or compliant storage systems.
Cloud-based computing and hosted services are smart alternatives to client-server legacy systems; they provide lightening fast response times and instant updates from the processing host, where transaction data is safely managed.
Redundant, "twin" processing systems, designed to intercept and take over when other systems fail, will be a logical choice in 2010 for high-volume merchants. Why rely on one system when many of today's POS offerings come with two communication methods? Dial and Ethernet Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), and countertop wireless with general packet radio service and dial are two examples of this excellent trend.
The ability to do more with less is a prevailing requirement in today's competitive business world. The seamless integration of the POS into larger, enterprise-scale systems streamlines efficiencies and places credit card processing at the core of business intelligence, elevating its importance and increasing its accessibility.
In 2010 more merchants will choose to access credit card processing through proprietary accounting systems, customer relationship management programs and corporate intranets. Find out which of these programs are certified and supported by your ISO and processor.
Virtual terminals will be more plentiful and affordable in 2010, driven by increased demand and price reductions in Internet technology. Many virtual terminal solutions are both customizable and brandable and work equally well as primary systems or as back-ups to other more traditional processing technology.
2010 will see a continuance of large Wi-Fi installations in sports stadiums, shopping malls and other venues that promote Wi-Fi hotspots to encourage the foot traffic of laptop computer users. Merchant level salespeople (MLSs) can encourage smaller merchants to leverage existing TCP/IP infrastructure at their stores through secure Wi-Fi Protected Access-enabled routers that communicate via Wi-Fi with credit card terminals.
This will speed up transaction times, eliminate the need for a secondary phone line and be easily installed without popping any tiles.
Internet access is the driving force behind today's technology convergence. Connecting and sharing messages, images and ideas through social media, e-mail, instant messaging and conferencing technology has made our world smaller and flatter. It's only natural that merchants who have become accustomed to online banking will also want to view their credit card transactions in real time.
Downloadable, exportable online reporting will give merchants the ability to manage their credit card processing and react quickly to fraudulent transactions or suspicious activity. Additionally, we'll see continued acceptance of Ethernet TCP/IP as a primary communications method for card processing across a wide array of platforms: integrated POS, dual-communication countertop terminals and virtual terminals will rely on the ease and speed of broadband.
Consultative selling will continue to separate professional MLSs from rate jockeys in 2010. The best approach to building relationships with merchants is to analyze their business requirements and offer solutions that can be customized and adapted to their particular needs. Many ISOs, processors and technology companies offer vertical solutions designed for specific industries.
Targeting an industry with a customized solution can be a rewarding approach for MLSs and will separate you from the many generalists in our mature and competitive market.
The underappreciated, utilitarian refurbished terminal will be a force to contend with in 2010 and beyond. Many merchants are reluctant to part with these relics of a bygone era, despite end-of-life declarations from manufacturers and dire warnings about PCI PIN Entry Device compliance by processors. It will be our responsibility as MLSs to educate our merchants on the benefits of upgrading and the hazards of using older, noncompliant systems.
The payments industry is marked by an abundance of POS technologies. By setting merchants up with POS systems, MLSs provide a valuable service to business owners everywhere. Even in today's challenging economic conditions, our industry remains strong. Let's make the most of it, and have a great and fulfilling New Year.
Dale S. Laszig is a writer and payments industry executive with a diversified background in sales and marketing. Her company, DSL Direct LLC, helps industry professionals and business owners leverage electronic transaction technology. She can be reached at 973-930-0331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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