A new NFC stack from Merchant360 will allow POS terminals to be turned from simple card payments devices into multi-functional NFC access points that retailers can use to process a wide range of emerging mobile payments services, marketing and advertising solutions and even social networking services.
Merchant360 has released an NFC stack for payments terminals and announced that Verifone, the world’s largest POS terminal manufacturer, is its first licensee.
Current-generation POS terminals, even those that accept MasterCard and Visa branded contactless card payments, do not allow for easy and inexpensive integration of emerging mobile payments solutions and non-payments services, the company explains.
New POS terminals that incorporate Merchant360’s NFC software stack, however, will be able to easily share the built-in contactless reader between multiple applications so that a far wider range of services can be offered by a retailer — and new entrants to the mobile payments, couponing and other markets can more easily gain access to merchants’ points of sale.
“Non-scheme payment, loyalty, coupon, and ticketing or value-add solution providers have long been kept from residing on multi-application contactless terminals by lockdowns and high costs,” says Merchant360. For instance, “MoneyCell [a French mobile wallet provider] had to pay very high fees to get its mobile tags encoded with a proprietary financial format, keeping them from distributing NFC tags as freely as they would have liked.”
“Other programs chose to use their own formats but this makes it difficult for the application to cohabitate with scheme payment solution terminals and requires the program manager or retailer to bear additional and unnecessary costs. Merchant360 believes that retailers who own their equipment should have open choice of applications that reside on their devices.”
“With standard NFC message formats still undefined for things like check-in service, coupon distribution and redemption, and customized receipt delivery the current implementations must maintain flexibility while still adhering to strong brand and security requirements,” the company adds. “The solution from Merchant360 allows for remote updating of the device when new NFC applications and formats are released, allowing for retailer and ultimately more consumer choice.”
“We’ve released several NFC solution integrations at the point of sale now and clients like Bling Nation and MoneyCell were continually met with high costs and incompatibility issues so we designed and delivered a solution for our clients that Verifone sees merit in,” says Steve McRae, CEO at Merchant360.
Verifone took delivery of the Payment Terminal NFC Stack this week and Merchant360 is now “in talks with other hardware manufacturers about integrating its NFC stack and is working with programs who want to integrate to POS solutions.”
Verifone’s vision for NFC revolves around enabling all its POS terminals to support the widest possible range of contactless services, the company’s senior vice president of global marketing told NFC World in March.
Future Verifone POS terminals will be able to support a huge array of NFC services, from traditional card payments to new payments services, couponing applications and more, Paul Rasori explained.
And the key to making that vision a reality will be that new entrants to the market will meet many of the costs of upgrading and replacing terminals to support the new services they plan to offer. They “will be making upfront investments to seed the market,” Rasori told NFC World.
UPDATE: Verifone has asked us to point out that it is using Merchant360’s software only for demo and proof-of-concept purposes. “Verifone started working on NFC five years ago, and today, all of Verifone’s NFC-capable POS devices are powered 100% by Verifone technology,” the company says.