Will the future of payments belong to upstart innovators like Square? As mobile payments become a larger and larger part of the global payments industry, they just might.
But payment giants like VeriFone aren't sitting idly by either. At this week's National Retail Federation’s Convention and Expo in New York, the company, whose point-of-sale systems are used by countless businesses, will be demonstrating how it plans to keep up with rapidly evolving payment technologies.
As reported by GigaOm, "VeriFone is showing off its new MX 900 series of point of sale hardware that is built to be more multi-media friendly, with one unit, the MX 925 sporting a 7-inch WVGA touch-screen."
It's also showing off PayWare Mobile Enterprise for Tablets, a software solution that, in conjunction with a dongle, enables an iPad 2 to accept NFC payments, sign customers up for loyalty products, and check prices. Everything can be administered across all of a merchant's devices using the Verifone HQ management software.
While you might think that VeriFone's existing sales channel would give it the opportunity to defend its turf pretty well, it appears to be quite open to playing nicely with companies trying to bring their own innovation to the payments space. VeriFone's new point-of-sale solutions can also work with mobile wallets, such as Google Wallet, and the company is negotiating with PayPal about its in-store payment solution.
Indeed, according to VeriFone Marketing's Erik Vlugt, VeriFone is embracing the innovation (and competition) that marks the latest generation of payment solutions. "We can be Switzerland and the merchants can decide what they want to accept."
It could be a win-win for everyone. Point-of-sale may not be sexy, but upstarts with big dreams will realistically need to work with point-of-sale systems. Being able to leverage VeriFone as a sales channel could be the difference between success and failure for new payment technologies. For VeriFone, of course, using its sales channel to get a piece of the action isn't such a bad idea. After all, VeriFone certainly wouldn't have been able to develop everything itself.
The big question, of course, is just how much consumers will benefit. There is no doubt there's plenty of room for new kinds of payment solutions, but at the same time it doesn't seem likely that dozens of new mobile wallets, for instance, will thrive long-term.
In the next few years, expect to see a few clear winners emerge, and if VeriFone has its way, it will have been a big part of their success.