The inception of the mPOS, a dongle that plugs on a mobile handset and turns it into a POS terminal has brought a revolution in payment. The first company to have made the mPOS popular is Square, even if, lately, it is seeing its IP contested by Anywhere Commerce.
Now, if we step back, which functions do we actually need in a POS terminal? At a time when most issuers are either already issuing dual interface cards or are in the process of switching to dual interface cards, it is a safe bet to consider that most cards on the field are equipped with contactless communication functions. In this situation, is probably the least costly solution as a base for a payment terminal is probably a mobile phone with an NFC chip allowing developers to access it in terminal emulation mode, or in other words not Apple as of now.
A POS terminal also needs a few more functions: the ability to communicate, not a problem for a smartphone; and a keyboard and a display, which can now be used by the cardholder for PIN entry, as allowed by the PCI PIN-on-glass specifications.
Visa and Fiserv, which now owns First Data, are announcing a partnership with Samsung, to introduce a SoftPOS (Software Point of Sale), a means for a merchant to complete payment transactions just by using a smartphone as point of sale terminal. This announcement is not the first of its type, but it is the first one to get support from such heavyweights in the payment and telecom industries. First pilots will take place by end 2019 in Poland, a country with a record penetration of cards with contactless interface. The solution will then be marketed in the EMEA and ASPAC regions, say Fiserv, Samsung and Visa.
The POS Terminal market has already been under pressure over the last few years due to traditional market saturation, arrival of new players and emergence of mPOS. The arrival of the SoftPOS is probably not good news for the traditional POS terminal vendors.