At this point, it is a given that startups are revolutionizing the world of money. The question now is: how? There is an entire market (which in Italy is still in its initial phase but boasts enormous potential), that of mobile POS whose total transactions are predicted to reach 2-3 billion euros in transactions by 2016.
The term Point of Sale (POS) indicates the place where a transaction occurs, or rather, the point where the client pays the vendor. Intuitively, by adding the term mobile it can be deduced that the moment of checkout has no specific physical point, thus permitting payments while mobile. Technically, m-POS are actually just card readers that, when connected to a smartphone or tablet, permit payment with a card. Experts of the sector believe their role is fundamental for the diffusion of electronic payment even in areas where cash is still prevalently used.
In particular, the main producers of m-POS in Italy
(Jusp – – , Payleven, Wallet-E) can benefit from the Decreto Sviluppo Bis (Development Decree II), published January 27 in theGazzetta Ufficiale (Official Journal) that will make it mandatory for “subjects who effect sales activities of products and services, professionals included, to accept card payments”. The conditions make it mandatory for any sale superior to 30 euros and for subjects whose earnings are superior to 200,000 euros. This, therefore, includes professionals and merchants like taxi drivers, pony express, artisans, those who make house calls – plumbers, electricians, painters, etc. – , as well as doctors, lawyers and notaries. Not just this, though. Mobile POS is also an opportunity for those who already have traditional POS payment systems to update their traditional concept of sales points, thus allowing their clients to avoid long lines at checkout counters, as researcher at the Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Mila, Valeria Portale, pointed out. And if, on the one hand a client can improve his buying experience, the retailer can accept payments without necessarily having to bind himself to pressing contracts with banks. This is where startups come in, offering more convenient options. With respect to traditional POS, m-POS have no fixed costs for merchants and do not require monthly fees. Only a commission of about 2.5% is paid on transactions. At a pricing level, for those who still don’t have a POS system, this solution is clearly an incentive. Startups must be given the merit, once again, for dynamizing the market. Because, in order to react to this threat, banks and international circuits have been working much more actively now. And offers like m-POS by Intesa Sanpaolo, BNL, and Ingenico have been created.
And, abroad, interesting things are occurring: alliances between banks and startups have begun in order to develop joint services (in the U.S., Square with JPMorgan; in Germany, DZ Bank with iZettle). Unable to beat them, they decided to join them. It is true, in general, that this phenomenon is more consolidated in the rest of the world than in Italy. The Observatory at the Politecnico di Milano has counted over 70 operators of mobile POS worldwide and their use has extended to sectors like large-scale distribution, which, in initial study results were not foreseen as the main targets. In the cities of Austin, New York, and San Francisco, Square just signed an agreement with Whole Foods Market that will allow clients to make acquisitions from single stands rather than the usual long single checkout lines. It is not by chance that the area in which mobile-POS has grown the most (25% per year) is that of North America where about 3 million are already active. There are two reasons for this: one is linked to demand, the other is cultural. In the U.S., in fact, not only are solutions like PayPal, Here, Square, Intuti GoPayment present and consolidated (but which still have not taken off on the Italian market), it is also generally more diffused the use of card payments in respect to cash.
The main obstacle, in fact, for the success of these solutions in Italy is the scarce propensity towards the use of card payments, notwithstanding the implementation of accelerating norms. Innovation and technology could offer a solution to overcome the impasse. In other nations, there are experiments with other forms of mobile payments that do not necessarily use cards. In Spain, for example, the Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel has activated PayTouch, which uses the noted technique of biometric fingerprint readers that allows for the authentication of the buyer. The transaction is completed in 5 seconds and all it takes is a registration with its producer (even online), and more than one debit/credit card can be linked with a fingerprint. In France, as well, 900 consumers experimented for 6 months with this technology in Villeneuve-d’Ascq and Angoulême, two towns near Lille. 90% of these users said they were satisfied with the payment method, which they found surprisingly easy, fast, and safe to use. Hopes are that this will soon arrive in Italy as well.