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With upstarts like Square trying to disrupt the payments space, often using technologies that interoperate with consumer devices like the iPad, it's no surprise that larger entrenched players are fighting back with similar offerings.
Point-of-sale giant VeriFone, for instance, is positioning itself to be the Switzerland of payment solutions, and PayPal is making a big offline push with physical retailers and card readers for smaller businesses.
Now NCR, best known for manufacturing cash registers and ATM machines, is getting into the act by launching a new offering, NCR Silver, which provides a Square-like mobile card reader as well as a cloud-based POS software solution similar to Square's Register iPad app.
NCR Silver, which is being targeted at small businesses, isn't a Square copycat in all respects. For one, it's more expensive, with setup costing more than $600 and monthly fees starting at just under $80. That alone may turn off some small business owners who can obtain a Square card reader for free with no minimum monthly fees.
But support are important in the payments space, something Square has learned the hard way, and NCR is clearly hoping that small business owners remember the old adage "You get what you pay for" when they look at its offering. To that end, NCR is offering NCR Silver customers 24/7 support and next-day hardware replacements. Trust is also a big issue with payments, and having processed more than $2 trillion in transactions last year, NCR can arguably claim it's a far more proven and trustworthy partner for small business owners.
Even so, NCR, like all players in this space, faces significant challenges. The market is increasingly competitive, and selling to small businesses, many of which may have six-figures or less of annual payments, requires lots of boots on the ground. With this in mind, the winners in the rush to capitalize on the small business payments opportunity will probably be the companies that have the best sales channels, not necessarily the best products.