ROAM Adapts as Mobile-Pay Merchants Get Pickier

Posted: Oct 28, 2013

by John Adams

One-size-fits-all mobile card readers and apps won’t cut it for many merchants, says Scott Holt, a vice president at mobile point of sale company ROAM.

While the technology that enables the actual payment remains the same, the requirements of businesses differ, Holt says. Not all merchants desire a loyalty program, or a mobile wallet, but most want a customized program that accompanies mobile payments, he says.

“It could be anything from a staff scheduling service, or time management, inventory services, etc.,” Holt says. “We’ve seen a number of new use cases come up as different merchants have started to embrace mobile point of sale technology.”

For example, the Subway restaurant chain—a new client for ROAM—is deploying ROAM’s services in several different ways, Holt says.

The sandwich chain will initially use ROAM real-time interaction with consumers,” Holt says. Subway did not return a request for comment by deadline.

Overall, there is a shift taking place where businesses are seeking application programming interfaces and other tools to allow them to embed mobile card acceptance “inside a broader application that allows them to perform industry-specific functionality,” he says.

ROAM, a Boston-based Ingenico subsidiary that sells mobile point of sale technology, is working with merchants to determine a precise mix of additional services that to include in its mobile payments service.

“The more options, the better for the client as it either allows ROAM to pre-prepare readymade bundles, or the customer to have their own created,” says Gareth Lodge, a senior analyst at Celent.

ROAM is, in effect, offering professional services, Lodge says. “[ROAM] can create tailored solutions for clients. That would be a very real differentiator,” likely the result of Ingenico’s influence, he says.

ROAM has clients in direct selling, home services, financial services, hospitality, retail and telecommunications. ROAM’s fees for white-labeling payments applications, and the customized added services, depend on the scope of the deployment, Holt says.

The tailoring of mobile point of sale for specific industries is fairly new, but it’s going to get a lot of attention in the next two years or so, says Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst at Aite Group.
“Mobile point of sale systems to date have been focused on two categories of merchant—very small and very large,” Oglesby says. “The solutions for very large merchants are obviously highly customized and generally augment but do not replace existing point of sale solutions.”

But for very small merchants, the options have been largely out of the box generic payment acceptance products, Oglesby says, adding the market is now seeing more focus in the middle market area. First Data, via its acquisition of Clover, and Heartland, via its investment in and work with Leaf, are setting up platforms that are highly customizable to merchant categories or to individual merchants, Oglesby says.

“Because of the multipurpose utility of the mobile device, there are lots of opportunities for innovation in software that can combine multiple products together into bundles that are targeted towards specific merchant segments,” Oglesby says. “That is why, in my view, the acquiring industry is at the brink of an emerging software arms race.”

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