The recent wave of digital payment options available to consumers has helped foster a spate of innovative technologies for receiving payments. To stay in the game, longtime point-of-sale purveyor First Data is launching its latest tablet-based system: the Clover Mini.
The Clover Mini is a small point-of-sale system that’s aimed at competing with Poynt, former Google Wallet lead Osama Bedier’s recently launched point-of-sale. The Mini will accept NFC-based payments from mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and even the soon-to-launch Samsung Pay. It also has a card slot for chip and PIN credit cards. The tablet-sized terminal has a PIN pad, multiple USB ports, and full Wi-Fi capabilities, as well as an input for an Ethernet cable.
The Mini rounds out Clover’s suite of products geared at small, medium, and large businesses, which include a mobile unit for in-the-field sales and a counter-style point-of-sale. Aimed at small businesses with a smaller budget, the Mini means to vie against the slew of innovative competitors that have emerged in recent years.
The advent of the Square dongle in 2010 led into numerous other products like payment terminal Poynt and PayPal’s Here. The flood of simple card-reading devices has created a number of innovative point-of-sale units that effectively turn the traditional card-reading terminal into a brick.
When president Guy Chiarello joined First Data in 2013, he knew things needed to change.
“The company lost its way around product innovation, and as a result these other players got into the marketplace,” said Chiarello. First Data had recently acquired Clover, a mobile payments app that allowed users to quickly check out. After the acquisition it pivoted it into a sleek white terminal complete with an app store, so merchants could tailor their own experience.
Point-of-sale terminals are no longer just about a simple transaction, they’re about being the entire backend of a business. For example, since Square launched its initial dongle, it’s built out a system for booking appointments, managing inventory, invoicing, and analytics; it even offers cash advances to certain customers. Poynt is also staying competitive by offering an app marketplace populated by third-party developers. At a roughly $300 price tag, it’s also far cheaper than most terminals on the market.
That’s why Chiarello is keen on making the Mini price-competitive with other options. The company won’t reveal exactly how much the unit will sell for, because First Data has a network of banks that sell units on its behalf and the price can fluctuate, but it’s fair to assume the price will be in the $300 range.
Even at that price, which is far below what First Data terminals ordinarily sell for, it’s not as affordable as the recently launched Square EMV and NFC reader, which retails for $50.
While it may be hard times for payment terminal providers, this burst of innovation around mobile payments means that more and more merchants are likely to accept mobile payments. After all, even as competitors continue to encroach on its space, First Data still boasts six million customers worldwide. If the company is able to upgrade those customers from the old payment terminals to a new Apple Pay-enabled POS, it would be a major boost to the overall mobile payments space.
As Apple Pay and Android Pay-accepting terminals become more ubiquitous, the more likely people are to use them. Maybe 2015 is the year for mobile payments after all.