Ken Paull, new Chief Executive Officer at mobile application and gateway services provider ROAM Data Inc., said in an interview after his September 2012 appointment that his mission is to focus the company on its flagship product, ROAMpay, a mobile POS system that competes with a solution developed by Square Inc.
"Our message to the market has been cloudier than it needs to be," he said. "We've been opportunistic as a company and positioned ourselves in the middle of the m-commerce market. Most everything we do is branded for our clients. We're behind the majority of solutions that in some form or fashion are competing with Square. I think we got a little fragmented with all the opportunities. We need to pull the reins in and focus on the ROAMpay POS acceptance program."
Paull said ISOs remain ROAM's primary distribution channel, and this will not change. "We should be looked upon as the primary solution set when the customer needs a Square-type option," he said. "A lot of ISOs use us to compete in the lower end of the mobile consumer market. Another place we are focused now is taking our product up market. We want to help ISOs move upmarket."
The CEO acknowledged Square has done a good job of marketing to the low-end payment market - typically small vendors who use their cell phones to conduct small transactions at events like farmers markets and craft shows, or nonprofit organizations selling inexpensive items to raise money for their activities. "They are billing at the micro level," Paull said. "There is more money in the mid-tier where there are more true merchants and volume to be had."
Paull doesn't foresee a generic turnkey application winning the day with middle market merchants. He sees merchants looking for custom solutions and turning to value-added resellers and independent software vendors for solutions.
He said ROAM offers a broad mobile solution that can not only take transaction data and apply it to back-end office functions, but can also help retailers manage customer data and create customized loyalty, coupon, rewards and other marketing programs.
"What's unique about us is we are out there with our own brand," he said. "We go to the retail merchant primarily with our ISO partners. We think at the higher end of the market, businesses won't want to promote the Square brand on their POS. The ISO can give the retailer a customized solution branded for a specific retailer. That should give them a leg up competing; Square doesn't have a branded strategy."
The ROAM solution also offers ISOs the opportunity to sell value-added services to customers who want a customized rather than a generic software payment solution. "This is about attracting and serving more customers," Paull said.
Another advantage ROAM enjoys is that it is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard- (DSS) and Payment Application DSS-compliant, Paull pointed out. "We believe we have the highest level of security in the mobile market," he said. "The upper tiers care about security and compliance. Our partners help us with that."
ROAM and its parent company, terminal manufacturer Ingenico S.A., are working on new Europay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV) and near field communication technologies, Paull noted, adding that he expects ROAM will release EMV-compliant mobile software products in 2013.
Paull was unfazed by news of the Starbucks Corp. agreement to put Square POS systems into its stores. "We already have a major retailer larger than Starbucks and we have mid-tier deals as well," he said.
According to Paull, ROAM is not only delivering solutions for new customers, but it is also seeing the return of retailers who tried to develop their own mobile solutions. These merchants often discover the mobile software market moving too fast for them to keep their software up to date, he said. "People need to be careful branding a solution on their own," he said. "It is getting to be expensive and complicated."
In summing up, Paull said, "Ingenico's tagline for some time has been 'Beyond Payment.' Now it's really coming true."
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