Mobile payments may have solidified themselves as an industry buzzword, but they won’t catch on with consumers until more retailers bring them into their brick-and-mortar stores, according to payment solutions provider Ingenico Corp.
To give retailers more ways to help customers pay in-store or on-site, Ingenico is launching three new point-of-sale (POS) terminals using iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Bluetooth technology. Headquartered in France, the 33-year-old company has offices worldwide, and it holds about 65 per cent of the market share of payment solutions in Canada, said Thierry Denis, president of Ingenico North America.
For Ingenico, mobile payments are nothing new, Denis said. Ingenico’s POS terminals are already equipped with near field communications (NFC) technology, as well as the ability to take mobile payments. Right now, there are about 800,000 Ingenico POS devices in Canada, with about 30 per cent of them already able to handle mobile payments, according to company estimates. But although the machines may be ready to leverage mobile payments, retailers and consumers are not – at least, not just yet, Denis said.
“In Canada, they have limited use. People like debit and Interac,” Denis says. “But mobile is just another evolution. What we’re saying to retailers is that we’re future proofing their devices. We’ve anticipated [mobile payments] for consumers, so retailers have them there when consumers want to use them.”
Among Ingenico’s new devices in Canada are the ISMP, the ISMP Companion, and the ICMP, with software that has been customized for the Canadian market. All of the devices are PCI and EMV compliant, two retail industry standards that need to be met in Canada. They also encrypt transactions, keeping customers’ data secure.
The ISMP is a device allowing retailers to transform the iPod Touch, the iPad, or the iPhone 4 into a mobile POS terminal. That can be helpful for retailers who deal with the problem of showrooming, when a customer walks into a store to check out a product but then ends up buying it online, resulting in a lost sale for the brick-and-mortar retailer. It allows salespeople to close a sale right as they serve customers, instead of sending them to wait in line at the cash register.
The ISMP Companion is very similar, but it can convert any iOS, Android, or Windows-based Bluetooth tablet or smartphone into a wireless, mobile POS device.
Then there’s the ICMP device, which is touted as a handy payment device for contractors, delivery workers, home care providers, artists at craft fairs, and market vendors. By inserting a smartphone or tablet into the device and using Ingenico’s ROAM mobile commerce platform, retailers on the go can instantly get payment from a customer, as well as transaction approval from the customer’s bank.
On the retailer’s part, that saves the time and effort required to copy down a debit or credit card number, and to enter the transaction back at the officer. It’s compatible with any smartphone or tablet, accepting debit, credit, stored-value cards, contactless payment, chip and PIN, and mobile and NFC payments.
Ingenico wouldn’t provide pricing for the devices, saying it depends on scaling and on prices set by resellers.
One reason for the three new products is because Ingenico wants to “build the rails” for consumers to be able to adopt mobile payments, said David Chaudhari, managing director for Ingenico Canada. It’s not that Canadians aren’t interested in mobile payments – it’s just that solutions providers haven’t given them enough opportunity to make use of them, he said.
“We think [Canadian consumers] are very quick to adopt, and if they like something, they’re very loyal,” Chaudhari said. “They’re waiting for solutions to catch up … but when mobile payments increase, in their ramp-up phase, I think you’ll see a lot more retailers providing it as the months roll past.”
In a report released earlier this summer, market analysis company Technology Strategies International (TSI) Inc. said more than half of Canadian smartphone owners had used their phones to pay for a purchase at least once in 2012. Yet only 100,000 Canadians regularly use their phones as a payment method.
Still, TSI predicted by 2017, about three million Canadians will regularly use mobile payments at coffee shops and grocery stores, especially as more smartphone users begin making their phones NFC-compatible.
Among consumers, their biggest concerns surrounding payment options will always be convenience and security, said Chaudhari.
He added he believes mobile payments are in a “growth period” right now, similar to what e-commerce went through when it first appeared in the retail industry. At first, there were a lot of nay-sayers, he said.
“We predict the curve for mobile to be over even quicker [than e-commerce]. We’re already used to presenting a card and PIN, so mobile is just a different form factor,” Chaudhari said.
“Ultimately, customers want to transact on their terms. They want to pay with the scheme or form factor of their choice. Retailers who want their loyalty must accommodate that … We want to help them reengage customers and level the playing field.”