Roam Goes ‘Native’ to Prep for Mobile Acceptance’s Tablet Future

Posted: Nov 06, 2014

As the mobile point of sale market matures, more merchants will migrate from smartphones to tablets, which Roam’s Scott Holt said requires device-specific changes in design and technology.

“The hardware designed for smartphones does not always work well for a tablet,” said Holt, a vice president at Ingenico, the terminal manufacturer which develops and markets Roam’s mobile point of sale products.

Roam has redesigned its mobile point of sale technology and user interface to more closely match the mobile point of sale app to the merchant’s computing device.

“These are all native products that are designed for iOS and Android in all form factors. Whether it’s a tablet, a smartphone, a ‘phablet,’ etc. it’s all native architecture,” Holt said.

Roam’s new version, called ROAMpay X5, supports iOS and Android operating systems and accepts mag stripe, EMV chip and PIN, and EMV chip and signature. The company is offering the system on a white label basis, and is targeting ISOs, acquirers, banks and telecoms that sell mobile point of sale (mPOS) to merchants. It also connects to ROAMmerchant, the company’s business management portal.

The mPOS market began largely as a way for cash heavy small businesses and micro merchants to use their smartphones to accept card payments, either through a hardware attachment or using the phone’s camera to capture an image of a card or invoice.

As the mPOS market grew, providers started to add merchant services. Rival Square, for example has added an appointment-scheduling service, small-business lending and interactive receipts. It also plans to release a chip-and-signature version of its card reader in 2015 to accommodate the EMV migration in the U.S. Roam also faces competition from tablet-based mPOS providers, such as Heartland Payment System’s Leaf.

Roam has also diversified, adding PIN payments, tailoring services and entering new markets.

One of the latest trends Holt has noticed is the move to tablets as merchants seek a larger interface for the added features. “We are seeing more and more merchants using tablets for mPOS, and ROAMpay X5 is optimized to take advantage of that real estate,” Holt said.

Mobile point of sale providers will be pressured to bolster technology as the range of payment types expands, analysts said.

“There are a number of complexities that the newer payment types bring to the mPOS market,” said Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst and consultant at Double Diamond Payments Research. Those include the ability to support PIN entry, the need for a separate battery in the peripheral, the larger resulting size of the peripheral, and most importantly the cost that comes from the incremental complexity, he added.

The timing is good for new mobile point of sale terminals, said Phil Philliou, the CEO of TruBeacon.

“Considering that most merchants need to upgrade their point of sale to accept EMV and NFC transactions, the new point of sale terminals are being introduced at the right time,” said Philliou, noting First Data has introduced a new version of its Clover point of sale product to enable staff to move about a store. “It’s great that merchants have choices.”