Mobile Payment Technology: NCR Silver and Pay With Square Face Off
NCR Corporation has entered the mobile payment technology field with NCR Silver, a sales and back-office service targeting small and midsize businesses. To accept payments, retailers use iPads and iPhones along with a card reader that scans bar codes and reads credit and debit cards, as well. The growing competitor field includes Square, PayPal, and Intuit, to name a few, all with similar point-of-sale technologies.
NCR is better known for making cash registers for big business; its move with NCR Silver may be largely defensive. A USA Today article quotes analyst Rakesh Agrawal as saying "Square is getting tightly boxed in. NCR has better channels." The company exploits its experience with back-office solutions, providing an integrated analytics package that includes social marketing solutions. This type of analytics and CRM capabilities could be very appealing to the IT analyst at midsize companies, because large business back-office solutions are often too big to scale down to suit the needs of a smaller business. Similarly, smaller solutions often don't scale up as the midsize business grows.
How Square Competes
Whether NCR can beat the competition, though, is anyone's guess, particularly with Square's latest move to disrupt the playing field with its new pay-by-voice service called Pay With Square. As described in a Forbes interview with Square's CEO Jack Dorsey, pay-by-voice is as much about communication between the merchant and customer as it is about the payment technology.
The idea behind pay-by-voice is that a customer has an app on his or her smartphone that shows the nearby locations where Pay With Square is offered. When he or she walks into a shop, the merchant's register--an iPad--is alerted to the customer's presence using location-based services. The register displays a picture of the customer along with what was last purchased. David Pogue with The New York Times used Pay With Square to order coffee at a local coffee shop simply by walking in, ordering, and saying his name--no credit card, cash, or near-field device bumps necessary. The technology gives the customer a simple, hassle-free sales experience.
An Adaptable Plan
For the midsize business, point-of-service solutions may offer a way to better engage the customer by increasing convenience and offering a conduit for customer incentives to promote loyalty. For the IT analyst, it signals the need to aid in the creation of an adaptable plan for a business to adopt the new technology, one that allows IT and the back office to use and get used to the new technology quickly, and yet be ready to adapt in the near future as necessary as the technology changes. Most critically, IT needs to consider data management--particularly in the event that vendors change--as well as security and customer privacy.
There is a certain power in the willingness to adapt to new technologies, and certainly the new mobile payment systems may offer a number of business benefits. With more customers using smartphones in their day-to-day lives, now might be a good time to look closely at what mobile payment technology has to offer.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.