Mobile POS is growing by leaps and bounds – Frost and Sullivan has estimated that the industry is expanding at a nearly 7 percent clip annually to roughly $3.5 billion two years from now – and PYMNTS had a chance to catch up with Alex Choi, President of Hong Kong-based BBPOS, the company that has been credited with the creation of mPOS.
We spoke at length about the trends affecting the mPOS industry, and the challenges that lie ahead – especially with the imminent shift to EMV in the wings.
mPOS has been on a steady evolution from its beginnings as a system for micro merchants to transform mobile phones into point of sale terminals. Now, the mobile platforms have evolved to embrace a range of devices, including smartphones, and beyond the smallest merchants to become a feature at retailers, restaurant chains and even airlines.
And though we’re a bit away from the day if and when mPOS can completely overtake the traditional terminal POS, an inflection point does seem at hand. ABI Research has estimated that the installed base of global mPOS systems will grow fivefold by 2019, to reach more than 51 million units, a tally that would represent nearly half of the overall POS market.
Yet concerns linger for mPOS adoption, especially among the merchants who are under the gun to move toward EMV. A recent whitepaper by Bluefin Payment Systems surveyed 2,000 merchants and found that security remains a key concern in mPOS adoption, and that of course comes as businesses will be held accountable for the security of cardholder transactions and data.
Broadly speaking, tailwinds are in place for mPOS, BBPOS’s Choi notes: Emerging markets are embracing mPOS, especially in countries such as China, India and Brazil, as mobile technology stands to complement (and perhaps, eventually, even displace) traditional POS devices. And the looming deadline for EMV will of course spur adoption on mobile payments.
Choi sees a few overarching trends driving growth beyond geographic borders. “The cost of mPOS is a fraction of the cost of traditional POS,” he told PYMNTS. And with those lower costs, “cashless transactions, or electronic fund transfers, are desired in developing countries.” And, notes the executive, mPOS can help spur the adoption of EFT. Other key drivers for mPOS, he continued, include the rise of Apple Pay, among other mobile payment systems.
It’s no secret that the shift to EMV should also push merchants to adopt mPOS. “mPOS is a very good solution for small merchants in the U.S.,” says Choi. But mPOS players themselves are going to have to embrace some new strategies to help accelerate adoption.
"Currently, most mPOS players only have a software development kit for iOS, Android and Windows,” and according to Choi, that situation might have to change. mPOS players, he told PYMNTS, “should develop software kits for PC or Mac environments – or even Linux in order to help small merchants migrate to an EMV solution."
Alex Choi, President of BBPOS
Alex Choi is responsible for the business strategies and operations. Alex is a U.K. qualified Chartered Accountant and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Engineering from University of London.