Despite the explosive growth the mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) sector has seen in the past few years, there was one overarching message from the industry heading into 2014: mPOS has only just begun to show its potential. In other words, a collective ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.’
This untapped power can be seen in the moves of companies like Square, which is betting big on an upcoming IPO, and ROAM, which recently illustrated how the mPOS market will expand beyond smartphones in the coming year. But, with new opportunities come new challenges.
Looking ahead to 2014, ROAM CEO Ken Paull expects developments to shape his company, the mPOS industry, and more broadly, the global retail and commerce sectors that are beginning to tap into its capabilities.
“The past has been more niche markets, and smaller tiers of the market,” Paull told PYMNTS.com. “Now that we are moving upmarket it will be more apparent to the general consumer base that these systems are going into the mainstream, mid-tiers and larger tiers of the retail market.”
Speaking with PYMNTS.com, Paull offered up his industry expertise by answering new questions about where the mPOS industry will head in the coming months. And Paull didn’t shy away from some bold predictions about how chip and PIN standards will affect which companies compete globally and what it will take for stakeholders to survive.
For Paull’s big predictions for 2014 and reflections on 2013, read selections from our full interview with the CEO below.
PYMNTS.com: What do you think we will see more of in 2014? Less of?
Ken Paull: For consumers, mPOS systems will be a lot more visible than they have ever been. We will be seeing a lot more tablets too, most of the mPOS activity to date has been more focused on mobile phones and I believe we will see more and more tablets which be a big part of the solution set.
On the less-of part of the spectrum, there has been so much on the consumer side of mCommerce, more specifically on the wallet side that has brought in so many vendors. We will have to see a fallout and consolidation of some of these vendors. The market was banking on the consumer side, the wallet side, taking off a lot faster than it did in 2013, and this will continue to take time to gain adoption. There will be some survivors like our local Boston company Paydiant that seem to have some good momentum, but the fact remains that there are so many entrances that a big fallout is unavoidable.
Finally, chip and PIN is becoming a much bigger factor in global companies. The technology requires a much greater investment, not only for the hardware itself, but the integration of it. It is going to raise the bar in 2014 for how many players can compete in the mPOS space. It becomes a much more complex and sophisticated solution that requires a much greater investment. So, I think there will be fewer and fewer competitors that can really compete worldwide.
What was your biggest accomplishment in 2013 and how will it position you for 2014?
The biggest accomplishment is the redesign of our system in order to internationalize both from a technical and marketing perspective. This allowed us to move into seven new countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America, and it shows that the demand is there for 2014.
The offering what we have developed is definitely transportable to the global community to meet its needs. Some of these deployments are pretty significant. The two mantras I have is that the technology is moving upmarket and it is moving globally, and I believe this will continue to be the theme we will hear in 2014.
If you were writing one, what would you want the New Year’s Resolution for the payments industry to be?
I would hope that those operating in the mPOS part of the payments industry, that all the vendors and integrators and all the players in the ecosystem that we operate in, will really be very disciplined about security standards, self imposing internal security standards as well as internal and external testing for potential risk. PCI still does not really govern what we do and that leaves the opportunity for some of the solutions being developed and being purchased to be susceptible to breach. This could put a black eye on all of us if it were to happen. We are investing in all sorts of invasive and third-party testing, hacking to try to make sure we do not have any holes in all levels of the solution, including hardware, the software and the platform side. We would hope that the rest of the industry is all very disciplined about security standards and policing ourselves so that we do not suffer any setbacks as an industry.
Ken Paull, CEO, ROAM
Ken has over 20 years in senior management roles in the electronic payments industry including senior vice president at RBS Lynk (now WorldPay), vice president at Triton Systems and general manager at VeriFone. He was responsible for building and rapidly growing what is now WorldPay’s national account payments division while also directing the turnaround of what had been a declining ATM processing business. While at Triton, the company surpassed NCR as the second largest domestic ATM supplier and also became the global leader in retail ATM deployments.
At VeriFone, Ken built their major account, retail division which has become one of the largest segments of their business. Most recently, Ken has held positions of board director at Access to Money, director at Market Platform Dynamics and president of Pax. A native of the Boston area, Ken holds a B.S. in Marketing and Communications from Babson College, as well as an MBA in Telecommunications Management from Golden Gate University.