Developed and emerging markets are heading down two different paths when it comes to consumer use of mPOS devices, according to ROAM’s CEO Ken Paull. In a recent podcast interview with Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster, Paull elaborated on these findings and what’s next in mPOS trends.
The mobile point-of-sale market is sort of a fork in the road. To the left, merchants in developed markets are increasingly taking advantage of tablets as mPOS devices move up the retail food chain. To the right, emerging markets are just getting introduced to the notion of mobile phones as card accepting devices and opening up whole new avenues of commerce. In a recent podcast interview with Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster, ROAM CEO Ken Paull elaborated on these findings, putting mPOS into a more global perspective.
“mPOS Phase Two” is probably the best way to characterize the US mPOS market, according to Ken Paull, CEO of ROAM. Mobile, he says, is revolutionizing the traditional retail market as consumers and merchants increasingly interact in-store using tablets and/or integrated tablet systems. Yet, as promising as this is, the very large retailers, face a whole set of challenges delivering on the omnichannel promise which has set a very high bar for consumers who expect merchants to use these devices to create a seamless experience for shoppers across all channels.
“The challenge is delivering consistency for the consumer,” said Paull. “There is a higher sophistication that consumers have in terms of their own technology, so when they interact with retailers, they expect that same level of quality and consistency.” This could be achieved, Paull said, when retailers make mPOS and in-store traditional POS more consistent with what shoppers are seeing at home on their PCs and tablets.
The conversation turned to one that discussed another capability that these merchants have with respect to mPOS – the ability for merchants to use those devices to enable the real time delivery of promotions and rewards to consumers. This has created, for some consumers, the fear that retail’s “big brother” is tracking them, making them uneasy.
“What’s interesting is that retailers have been using technology for a while to track consumers in store, but consumers just haven’t known it as well as they do know,” said Paul. “WiFi in retail stores was done to gain intelligence on who is shopping in the store and what websites they are looking at.” Paull added that while this could make consumers nervous, the key for merchants is to have a “strong value proposition for the consumer” for using these new technology tools. “If consumers find these promotions valuable (and not too disruptive), the concern about tracking will smooth over,” he remarked.
In general, Paul said that ROAM continues to see a growing demand on the part of merchants to create a robust layer of capabilities around payments, including applications that allow them to use their data assets better. For example, ROAM has recently added fraud-related card number checking capabilities to its platform so that merchants can not only use this data to track their most frequent shoppers, but can assist in authentication.
“Payment is the core piece to finalize the transaction,” said Paul. “But it’s all about the interaction that happens before and at times after the payment button is hit.”
Outside of the US, in emerging markets, merchants are primarily using phones with dongles or chip and pin devices to enable those with cards in major cities – tourists, business travelers and the emerging middle class with cards. However, the movement toward mPOS Phase Two overseas is happening quickly, Paul said, because of what is occurring here in the US, as well as capabilities that enable merchants with mobile devices to accept local payment methods, including bank accounts.
To learn more about the most recent mPOS Tracker findings, download the full report here.