Tablet-based POS solutions

POStabletblogimageIf you are a business owner, you have probably realized the days of needing a cash register shackled to one spot as a POS system are over. Thanks to recent technological advances, there are a number of new POS solutions available to your business.

Smaller devices such as phones and tablets have taken over at the point-of-sale. Some mobile devices include credit card scanners in which a customer can physically swipe their means of payment, while newer technology consists of devices using Near-Field-Communication (NFC), which allows a customer to simply tap the device being used in order to make a purchase.  If you want to learn more about NFC technology check out our blog post on the mobile wallet here.

Tablet-based solutions have become a strong trend in the world of POS.  Why do more businesses prefer these new tablet point-of-sale solutions?  Well—they are improving the way businesses function, while increasing sales; and they cost much less.

The biggest appeal to the tablet POS is the mobility it presents. Using a tablet POS allows retail sales associates to roam the store, look up prices, handle returns, and even check out customers wherever they are standing.  This minimizes long lines, wait times, speeds up the transaction process, and ultimately the customer is happier.  Tablet-based POS solutions are even able to recognize and store your businesses reward or loyalty cards, which can greatly enhance your business as well!

Retailers aren’t the only business types utilizing mobile POS systems. The restaurant business is clearly following this trend as well.  Dining establishments are getting on board with tablet-based POS solutions for the same reasons as retailers. The use of tablet POS systems is enhancing guest’s dining experiences and how the back-end of business operates. These tablet POS systems can be placed tableside at each individual table, allowing customers to order, pay their bill, and even play games or trivia directly from the device.

Another advantage of tablet POS solutions is that they allow flexibility in today’s demanding business world.  Thanks to cloud-based technology, business owners can manage their operations on-the-go because they’ll have access to critical analytics and sales data at their fingertips. Cloud-based technology also improves the speed in which businesses can access help desks with troubleshooting issues from remote locations.

At Alpha Card Services, we can offer your business a number of intuitive and comprehensive POS solutions.  We have developed POS solutions for restaurant, retail, and salon applications. Our POS systems are easy-to-use, and most importantly reliable. We understand that owning and operating a successful business is a 24/7 process, and you need to depend on a system that can help you efficiently manage it all.

Keep a lookout for more information regarding our next generation tablet POS solution that will be launching soon. In the meantime, please keep yourself connected by visiting the Alpha Card website and following us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Tech For The Taking

Last time we introduced the topic of NFC Technology and mobile payment in our, ‘The Revolution of The Mobile Wallet’ post.  If you missed it, you can check it out here. As mobile wallets become more and more popular and major tech companies begin to battle for their place within the mobile wallet spectrum we’ll introduce you to the key players in this mobile wallet war.

There’s a silent war happening on the home front of the technology world. With 19 billion devices connected to the internet around the world, and an expected 50 billion devices by 2020, the smartphone has revolutionized the retail industry. Now large tech companies all over the world are gearing up for battle over how people are paying for their goods.

These tech companies have one shared goal; to dispose of the ever so inconvenient leather wallet, with paper and plastic payments, and replace them with technology. They want smartphones to act like electronic payment methods using NFC, near-field communication technology.

There’s just one problem. With so many companies wanting a piece of this new digital payment market, there might be a few knock out rounds before a single contender can come out with a title.

In one corner, we have Softcard (formally known as Isis). They’re made up of the wireless carriers; Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile. Softcard allows users to make a payment by tapping their mobile devices at a terminal. They’ve also snagged partnership with major credit cards such as Discover Network, Visa, MasterCard, Barclaycard, and American Express.

Notice that Sprint t has opted out of this partnership and instead teamed up with mogul giant Google on their competing service called Google Wallet. Google Wallet is another mobile system allowing users to store debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, and loyalty cards all in one place. Google Wallet also uses NFC technology allowing users to make payments via a kiosk on their phone. Their service is currently working with over 300,000 merchant locations and is available on Apple, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung devices, as well as a few select tablets. Impressive, right?

While Google Wallet has been in the works for quite some time (2011), its next heavy weight contender arrived true to its nature and fashionably late to NFC technology. Apple, with their service Apple Pay, and its loyal band of followers and technology enthusiasts has caused quite a stir in the mobile wallet wars. They’re not rolling out with something entirely new, but instead doing what Apple does best—innovating on existing technology and striking while the competition is boiling.

When Apple launched its mobile payments system in 2014, it boasted more than 1 million activations just in just its first week. Apple Pay is becoming popular for two major reasons: convenience and security.

Unlike competitor mobile wallets, Apple Pay has made the payment process even easier, by not requiring users to even open an app for use. The user just holds the iPhone 6 near the kiosk while holding their finger on the Touch ID to make a purchase. No pins—no hassle and an entirely different level of protection. However, here in lies the limitation of Apple Pay. It can only be used by iPhone 6 and can also be made compatible for iPhone 5. If that doesn’t thrill you, maybe the security will.

The tokenization system built into Apple Pay is a main reason consumers seem less hesitant about Apple Pay than any other mobile payment system. Apple wasted no time explaining exactly how customers would be safe from breaches. They use tokenization, which removes the consumer’s credit card number at purchase and replaces it with a generated number. That number then expires after one purchase.

It also never shares with merchants a buyer’s actual credit or debit card information, and given consumers’ growing privacy concerns, this also gives Apple an advantage. Google Wallet offers a similar system, which both can insure the consumer’s total privacy. With Apple Pay, the payment details are stored on the iPhone itself. Google Wallet stores them on Google’s servers.

Both Google Wallet and Apple Pay generally strive to do the same thing. It just depends on the user’s preference and cell phone provider. Both providers use NFC hardware. Both of these systems are completely relied on credit card issuers such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover to function. Unfortunately, both Apple Pay and Google Wallet are available only in the US at the time. However, Apple has announced plans to expand internationally.

Despite Apple’s innovation and Google Wallet’s experience, there are other contenders which seem to be emerging; and it’s the retailers themselves! Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which consists of Rite Aid, CVS and Wal-Mart have declared that they will no longer accept Apple Pay or Google Wallet. Instead, they are working on their own alternative, CurrentC. CurrentC differs from Apple Pay and Google Wallet in that the system will charge users directly to their bank accounts instead of paying transaction fees to MasterCard and Visa.

So, who will win these mobile wallet wars? With shifting alliances and growing companies trying to outdo the other constantly, there’s no telling. Alpha Card Services we are excited about the innovation of NFC technology and we’re compatible with whichever option our customers choose—whether it is Google Wallet or Apple Pay we’ve got you covered. To learn more about our Mobile Payment Processing solutions, please click here.

Stay tuned for our next in-depth article about EMV Technology on or about February 19th!

The Revolution of The Mobile Wallet

More than half of all Americans own Smartphones. And this holiday season as busy shoppers got out their lists; whether they were headed to crowded malls or navigating the web for the perfect deal—one thing was certain. Their gadgets were with them. It is increasingly clear that mobile devices are beginning to impact retail in a huge way. With more consumers browsing, comparing, and purchasing by mobile phone this year than any other means, retail companies are beginning to react to their customer’s demands by reaching out to them where they spend the most time—their mobile devices.

While customers are enticed and swarmed by retailers via text promotions and email blasts daily—this new technology is one for the taking and it will revolutionize the way you look at your wallet.

Literally.

You might think of your wallet as a traditional accessory used to house and safe keep all your precious goods. Cash, credit cards, driver’s license, gift cards, reward cards, and the occasional embarrassing family photo. It’s bulky, it’s unorganized, and it keeps growing every year making it harder for you to find what you really need when you’re next in line at the register. And let’s face it nothing is more precious than your time.

Lastly, let’s not forget that your lovely leather wallet is also completely insecure. Just about anyone can get a hold of it and easily burn through your cash, drain your bank account, credit, and worse your identity. Despite all this insecurity, transactions are still predominately based off cash or check.

This is where the cutting edge technology of the mobile wallet comes in.

To break it down, mobile or digital wallets are apps that enable users to make 1 click payments via mobile phone, because the user’s information is already stored in a secure cloud. This can include purchasing items online or using a smartphone to purchase something at a store without ever needing your physical card or making direct contact. Instantly the hassles of locating your credit card or reentering digit after digit for online purchases are diminished. It’s convenient. It’s simple. But it can seem a bit intangible.

Here’s a more in depth look at how they work.

Digital wallets will run differently from app to app depending on the provider and developer. Some wallet services will require a simple click for payment while others will require a pin number. Bottom line, digital wallets will pay for your stuff, much faster than traditional methods. Not only can they be used to purchase items but also to store things such as bus passes, concert tickets, coupons, and gift cards. Consumers benefit from the protection and convenience they offer and merchants are protected against fraud while also allowing them to sell goods faster.

There are two different types of digital wallets. Client-sided and server-sided. Client-sided wallets are maintained by the user. Information is downloaded and a program is installed in which the user can input their personal information, which is all stored on the user’s personal computer. When the consumer purchases something on the web, on a compatible web site, the wallet is able to input the personal information so the user won’t have to. Using this type of digital wallet has its benefits. However, client-sided wallets differ depending on the software and developer. It is also monitored by the user which leaves room for some minor aggravation.

Server-side wallets differ in the fact that the user’s data is not stored by their own personal computers but is stored and maintained by large companies. Visa’s V.me digital wallet is a great example. In this case all user data is store by Visa on the company’s secure computers.

If you’re wondering if digital wallets will only support certain types of cards, you’re in for a surprise. Visa’s V.me for example, can store data for you from many other credit card companies, such as Discover and Master Card. They also maintain your e-wallet account, dismissing the need of a physical card which can be stolen. This is beneficial for both the consumer and the retailer, who deal with a significant less amount of credit fraud.

While it is evident that this ground breaking technology can definitely spare you minutes of fumbling with your credit cards at your online cart, digital wallets take it a step further and turn completely mobile at store fronts too.

With more Smartphones being equipped with NFC (near-field communication) chips, which are an important component to the digital wallet movement, it is estimated that more than half of Smartphones will have NFC technology by 2015.

So what is NFC? It’s wireless communication with short range. And that means mobility to pay for almost anything at a store with just a tap of your phone to a compatible POS terminal. A great example of this is Google Wallet. Google is one of the leading technology apps using the power of NFC. All user’s credit card data (reward cards and gift cards too) are stored on Google’s servers (not your phone).

The dilemma that arises when using digital wallets is the merchant acceptance to this new technology. So while, you are able to join for example, MasterCard’s digital wallet MasterPass, in order to take full advantage of the technology, retailers and online merchants need to add the Master Pass API to their site or make POS systems compatible to the technology; giving the shopper the option to pay with MasterPass. The problem is not the interest in the technology but that many merchants are not equipped with the technology.

However, as this technology evolves, more and more companies want in on the action and are competing for a monopoly. Apple Pay for instance, is one of the most buzzed about digital wallet payment systems out today and its making waves—which is good news for users because other companies will feel compelled to compete and perfect the infrastructure. Apple Pay lets people pay merchants using their iPhones. All major credit cards are accepted and over 220,000 merchants are on board.

Alpha Card Services is excited to venture out into this new technology. We are NFC ready and compatible with Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Our Mobile Payment Processing and Point of Sale Systems are designed with merchants and customers in mind providing the best technology, mobile solutions, reliable performance, and affordability. To learn more visit us at http://www.alphacardservices.com/

So despite all this innovative and exciting technology what’s still causing people digital wallet woes?

The fact is that regardless, the payment method the technology still has a ways to go and has not convinced many consumers to trade in their good old fashioned leather friends for such new technology.

Privacy and Security will always cause concern for the general population. People are uneasy to accept a technology that seems more concept than reality at the moment. It’s easy to imagine how many things could go wrong when personal accounts, life savings, and credit cards are thrown into the mix. The complexity of the digital age is also keeping a few hesitant of this wireless transition.

Despite these problems, experts say that it’s estimated that digital wallets could become a $90 billion industry by 2017. However, before reaching that assessment, merchants must overcome some hurdles as with any new technology. Until then, our traditional wallets will continue to weigh down our pockets and purses. However, the growth of the mobile wallet cannot be ignored as it could determine the form of currency, which will be used in the future.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/11/opinion/the-digital-wallet-revolution.html

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/15/10-things-u-need-to-know-digital-payments

http://www.cnet.com/news/how-e-wallets-could-be-a-gold-mine-for-credit-card-companies/