Leaders from Square Inc., VeriFone Inc., Clover Network Inc., E la Carte Inc., and Wells Fargo Merchant Services recently gathered in San Francisco to discuss the future of the POS in an event hosted by The BayPay Forum. Future events in the series will focus on acquirer and retail perspectives on this topic.
"The POS market is going through a revolution," said Daniel Chatelain, Managing Director at The BayPay Forum. "There was consensus among the panelists that it's not hardware anymore; it's not software. It's more about what retailers and consumers are expecting. The consumer experience is key." And there are challenges to overcome due to differences in user experience, so education will be imperative, he added.
During the panel discussion, VeriFone Vice President Hitesh Anand said everything should be focused on the consumer, whether merchant or end customer, because for any new technology to be successful there must be buy-in from both audiences.
Rajat Suri, Chief Executive Officer at E la Carte pointed out the ongoing time challenges restaurants face. "We developed our product around making that pain point go away," he said, noting that it takes about 55 seconds to process payments on the pay-at-table Presto tablet-based system his company offers versus the 15 minutes that is typical. He expects to see more consumer-facing, software-driven, simple-to-use POS systems in the future.
Clover co-founder Mark Schulze said that many apps failed in the past because the core infrastructures weren't there, but that is no longer the case. With network organization, he predicts mobile wallets will move from single app to platform. "I think with Apple Pay you're going to start seeing more purpose- or function-focused wallets," he noted. "It's not going to be a wallet I want to pay with. It's going to be, 'I want my pizza,' so payments will be built in as sort of an in-app purchase."
Eric Sager, Head of Seller Growth and Retention at Square, said Square has evolved organically as a seller-driven provider to allow merchants to manage a business on one platform. "The advantage to our sellers is pretty clear," he said. "You can essentially run your entire business end-to-end."
But the challenge with integrating with third-party systems is how to maintain the same end-user experience. "If I can sign up for a Square account in five minutes, my expectation as a seller is that I can sign up for my Intuit account in five minutes, and go down the list," Sager said. "That is not always the case when you first start those conversations."
Wells Fargo Executive Vice President Mark Baumli described the opportunity today as the "perfect convergence between excellent new hardware products on the scene, excellent new software platforms, the cost of technology declining rapidly, and merchants waking up and realizing, 'You know what? Why is my iPhone cloud-based and my POS isn't?'"
Anand believes that in the future, it's not going to be point of sale, but points of sale, where the success of each will be dependent on the user experience for both seller and buyer.
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