2014.21 | poynt

With so much re-invention focus on payment with the likes of Square, Google Wallet and Apple Pay, it’s no surprise that someone in silicon valley decided to take a run at updating the old school point of sale payment terminal. Poynt is the iPhone to the traditional point of sale pinpad’s Blackberry.  It will be interesting to see if it takes off in the same way that the iPhone did. Poynt’s device is certainly different than it’s more traditional competitors in looks and basic utility.  The unit has a sleek contemporary look that utilizes an android tablet and has no physical buttons for pin entry.  Like other newer units, it has all the standard payment interfaces – MSR, EMV, and NFC – but also adds a PoyntQR/barcode imager and a bluetooth antenna.   Poynt also has a basic built in point of sale software solution, and a Software Developers Kit to allow others to build applications that can run on the platform. On the plus side, Poynt certainly has a look that retailers can embrace.  It takes point of sale pinpad terminals away from the spongy buttoned senior citizen’s calculator look to a software based, touch driven, futuristic device.  Every base is covered with payment options with all of the capabilities included on the device.  All of this is positive for the right application. For high volume retailers, this may not be the right device.

  • With two screens, the device appears to be designed for an interaction sitting on top of a counter that starts with the store associate entering data on the device and then passing it to the customer for payment entry.  This is sub-optimal for a high volume retail environment where every motion counts.
  • The device does not appear to have any security mounting options beyond a kensington type lock interface.  Given the need/desire for tier one retailers to mount devices on checkstands, selfcheckouts and more, the device cannot be mounted in stores with certainty that it won’t be stolen for attempted security incursions.
  • Touch screens are still an experiment for payment terminals in North America.  Shoppers are accustomed to buttons for pinpads.  Shoppers at tier one retailers are more than just twenty something hipsters in New York ordering cronuts who want to try the latest thing.  Most shoppers at high volume retailers want to get through the line.  Our moms need to know how to use this thing and get through the line in seconds.  This is certainly less and less of a problem as time passes, but the issue is still worth noting depending on the target market of particular retailers..
  • Pinpads take a lot of abuse in retail.  Mobile phones and tablets are replaced by consumers every 3-4 years.  Tier 1 retailers often target keeping devices for 7-12 years.  Can these devices last this long?  Certainly the software aspects mean that the devices can be updated over time, and looks can even be changed over time.
  • Most of the traditional calculator looking pinpads have some sort of privacy shield.  This device has a screen that is quite large that may be difficult to use without sharing your pin with the entire staff and entire shopper population.

This is not to say that Poynt was even built to deal with these challenges.  Poynt is solely a better looking device that enables every type of payment interface possible.  Selling payment terminals is a messy business.  As articles on this device point out, payment device vendors need to convince payments processors and banks, and to a lesser extent retailers, and not consumers, that their devices are worthy of certification and usage at point of sale. Poynt raises the bar and provides a fresh perspective, and for that alone, it is worthy of consideration.  While other articles seem to focus on the old school nature of pinpads on the market, in Canada, there have certainly been changes in recent times with the move to EMV to newer sorts of pinpads like those provided by organizations like NBSPS that have features like sleek good looks and audio prompts. EMV requirements in the US means that timing is good for new devices, and Poynt should take advantage of that change.  No matter whether Poynt takes off or not, it certainly provides other vendors the opportunity to change the paradigm that embodies the conservative payments industry.  I can’t wait to use a touch screen pinpad.  Expect it to become common sometime soon.

2011.37 | Using BMO Mobile Paypass

I obtained my own BMO Mastercard Mobile Paypass a week or so ago.  While it’s not the mobile wallet we have been looking for, it’s definitely a stepping stone down the right path, so I’m pleased to be an early adopter of this solution.  That and the $50 credit on my Mastercard offered by BMO for the first 1000 users made it a great option for me.

Working in retail technology as I do, and traveling as I do, I’ve had opportunity to use it a number of times.    Here is my experience so far:

1.  Activation – Getting the card activated was simple.  Card arrived in the mail, called 1-800 and I was ready to use it.  Friendly customer service rep from BMO enabled an email receipt to be sent to me on each usage.  That seemed a good practice if I happened to lose it.  If I lose it or someone takes it, I’ll be sure to know quickly as I’m rarely far from my email – though if I lose the phone, that might not be the case.

2. Physical Card – The card is just like any other small plastic loyalty card you have is attached to a keyring.  It is the same thickness as well.  Quite small.  It has an adhesive strip on the back, and attached easily to my phone, and would probably attach easily to anything.  On first placing it on my iPhone, my case wouldn’t go over it, but after re-aligning it from  landscape to a portrait on the back of the device, my iPhone case fits as before – albeit a bit snugly.  I prefer to have the card behind my opaque iPhone case so my credit card is less obvious to anyone nearby.

3. Usage – Using the Paypass is identical to using a standard Mastercard Paypass Card. Once a cashier has asked for payment and Mastercard has been requested, one waits for the NFC terminal to ask for input, and the mobile paypass is touched to the NCR reader (pinpad).  I’ve noticed that some NFC terminals work with no problem while others may require a touch in a particular location on the device.  The card being smaller may influence that – though I think the antenna in the card is the same, it may be tougher to place with the right proximity on the terminal.  I was able to easily successfully scan the card inside the case of my iPhone when I was successful, just as I can often get the normal card to work while still in my wallet.  Needless to say, the card works on its own and requires nothing from the phone.  The mobile device doesn’t have to be on or anything like that. 

4. Acceptance -There are quite a number of retailers in Canada that have contactless card readers.  I used my card in a number of places this week.  Here is my personal experience at different retailers:

Sobeys – Mississauga, ON – Mobile Paypass scanned, but NFC terminal at POS did not accept.   Terminal asked for Swipe or Dip.  I used my regular Mastercard with the Chip to finish transaction.  NFC terminal was an Ingenico i3070 unit.

Tim Horton’s – Mississauga, ON – Mobile Paypass scanned and NFC terminal at POS accepted.  Received email receipt. Note that email receipt does not have list if individual items purchased, but a grand total only.  NFC terminal was a Vivotech standalone unit.

Cineplex – Mississauga, ON – Mobile Paypass scanned by NFC terminal but payment did not process.  Terminal asked for Swipe or Dip.  I used my regular Mastercard with the Chip to finish transaction.  NFC terminal was a standalone Vivotech unit.

Second Cup – St Bruno, QC – Mobile Paypass scanned by NFC terminal, but payment did not process. I used my regular Mastercard with the Chip to finish transaction.

Tim Horton’s – North Montreal, QC – Mobile Paypass scanned and NFC terminal at POS accepted. Received email receipt.  NFC terminal was standalone Vivotech unit.

Jean Coutu – North Montreal, QC – Mobile Paypass scanned by NFC terminal, but payment did not process.  I used my regular Mastercard with Chip to finish transaction.  NFC terminal was Verifone VX810

McDonalds – Mississauga, ON – Mobile Paypass scanned and NFC terminal at POS accepted.  Received email receipt.   NFC terminal was a Verfione VX810

Loblaw – Mississauga, ON – Mobile Paypass scanned and NFC terminal at Self-checkout accepted.  Received email receipt.   NFC terminal was a Standalone Vivotech Unit.

Harvey’s – Toronto, ON – Mobile Paypass scanned and NFC terminal at POS accepted.  Received email receipt.   NFC terminal was a Verifone VX810.

Urban Fare – Vancouver, BC – Mobile Paypass scanned and NFC terminal at POS accepted.  Received email receipt.   NFC terminal was a Verifone VX810.

When I have attempted to scan at terminals for purchases for over $50, the unit does not process payment, which seems correct, as the Mobile Paypass is for purchases over $50.

5. Reaction – Apparently one way to pull a cashier out of that hypnotic trance one gets into in the middle of shift is to whip our your phone and tap it on the NFC reader.  I had a bit of a startled response from every cashier that wasn’t overwhelmed with a long line.  A few of them asked me how I did it, and we had a quick exchange.

In total, I have a mixed opinion of the Mobile Paypass.

When it works, it’s a tremendously handy addition for small payments.  When I’m buying coffee for a few people I don’t have to fumble for my wallet, as I almost always have my iPhone at the ready.  It is a bit disappointing that the system response is mixed, but that is not surprising given it is the first attempt at something like this.  There are always kinks to be worked out.

Being in the industry I appreciate that there are quite a number of system issues at play here.  There are impacts around the NFC readers, the card types accepted by retailers and processors, and more.

Ideally BMO will work with the retailers to ensure that these Mobile Paypasses can be widely and easily accepted.  I for one appreciate the fact that BMO and all of these retailers are making the effort to provide a stepping stone to the mobile wallet, and I look forward to enhancements to the system.

Have any of you used a Mobile Paypass at retailers?  Let us know your experience in the comments.  I plan on using it in continued travels through Canada in the coming weeks, and will update this post.

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