Many startups in the mobile sector choose Boston as their launchpad. But when it comes to integratable payment solutions, the city has a lot of growing up to do.
Started in 2005, ROAM has its sights set on leading the mobile payment industry not only in the U.S., but around the globe. From its offices in the Fort Point district, the company is paving the way for Boston’s transformation into the East Coast center for payment products.
“Boston hasn’t traditionally been known in the past as a payments hub, Atlanta and San Francisco have been classically viewed as the top spots,” ROAM CEO Ken Paull explained to BostInno in an interview. “But it’s starting to become one because of all the mobile startups and the smart college kids coming out of the local universities. It’s sort of becoming a center for expertise, and we’re starting to see that grow.”
ROAM offers a three-part payment system to clients. Along with the mag strip hardware for reading credit and debit cards, the company also gives customers the opportunity to control payments via the ROAM app, downloadable from iTunes or Google Market, and allows developers access to the backend and an API to build into another application.
ROAM is in a good position to lead the dawning of the payment sector’s development in Boston. Within the past two years, ROAM has distributed $2 million systems; though its a private company, Paull noted that the company is “doubling revenues year after year.” This scaling is largely due to ROAM’s $35 million in Series B funding in 2012 from Ingenico, the France-based international leader in payment solutions (Ingenico also provided $6.5 million in Series A). As a result, Ingenico scored the majority stake of 75 percent in the company, in what the CEO called an “extremely positive and helpful relationship.” ROAM in return has been able to boost its Research and Development efforts, bulk up its team of engineers and access their French parent company’s sales and support teams present in over 100 countries.
The latter gain will be particularly important as ROAM begins to expand and reach beyond U.S. borders in the next year. Paull said that the company has plans to offer its new chip-and-pin payment services in a dozen countries, leveraging Ingenico’s preexisting networks.
ROAM kicks off this expansion with its announcement of today’s partnership withBlackbaud, a global software and services provider for nonprofits operating in over 60 countries, for a new mobile points of sale (mPOS) offering named Blackbaud MobilePay. The deal will enable Blackbaud’s nonprofit clients to accept credit and debit card payments through smartphones and tablets while out in the field or at events, thereby simplifying the donation process for prospective givers.
“In bringing a mobile payment solution to the nonprofit market, we looked for a mobile device partner that could provide a solution with stability, security and innovation,” said Steve Klein, Blackbaud’s head of payment services, in a release. “ROAM came out on top on each point and also offered a broader mobile device footprint than any other vendors.”
Differing from other mobile payment products, ROAM offers complete customization of its mobile payment products to a specific brand of an organization. Companies and nonprofits alike can align the hardware with their advertising by choosing from different shapes of devices and putting their logo on the card readers. So when a customer goes to swipe his card for a donation, rather than seeing Square’s white mag strip attachment sticking out from an iPad, he will see a reader streamlined with the organization’s insignia.
“We’re making a direct effort into major charities and political and charitable fundraising groups,” Paull said. “Being able to take payment spontaneously at a rally, or at the door, can make a big difference for [the organizations].”
The nonprofits served by Blackbaud will join a number of organizations, including the Girl Scouts of America, that utilize and have access to ROAM’s mobile payment solutions.
Nonprofits and charity organizations are just one of the categories of clientele ROAM has to its name. The company also works with some of the world’s largest acquiring channels, retailers and PSPs to provide mobile point of sale solutions. Moving forward, ROAM’s Blackbaud partnership and upcoming global expansion are good signs for the future of both the company itself and the payment sector of Boston.
“For a little company based in Boston with about 100 employees, the ability to go out and take our solution globally would be very challenging and time consuming without the [partnership with Ingenico]. Now we not only have the people and the support, but also the relationships with the major merchants and credit card companies for the solution,” said Paull.