6 big reveals from NRF's 2020 expo

The National Retail Federation's annual conference, taking place this week in New York, is home to many innovations that could change the way merchants accept payments.

Many of these address the expanding role of the point of sale, and the industry's push to go beyond traditional hardware or add-on dongles. Other examples focus on specific verticals, or environmental impact.

And alongside all of these announcements, some major M&A activity is taking place.

This story was compiled from reporting by PaymentsSource writers including John Adams, Kate Fitzgerald, David Heun, Michael Moeser and Daniel Wolfe.

Samsung's mPOS phone

It may be too early to write the obituary for the plug-in mobile card reader, but new technology is putting a few nails in the dongle's coffin.

Samsung's upcoming XCover Pro phone, which can accept contactless payments without add-on hardware, is the first of what could someday be many devices capable of natively handling NFC payments.

Visa is working with Samsung and other manufacturers in 16 markets globally to pilot use cases and implementations of "tap to phone," hoping to lower barriers to payment acceptance. The same technology could be built into wearables or other tools that small businesses and sole proprietors carry.

"This is not [only] for Samsung. The Tap to Phone standard is a standard that is available to hardware manufacturers who have handsets and control the secure element and have all those capabilities, but also to software providers," said Mary Kay Bowman, head of global seller solutions at Visa, at a press event in New York.

Merger madness

Two major tech M&A deals were announced during the week of NRF: Visa's $5.3 billion deal to buy Plaid and Google's deal to buy Pointy for an undisclosed amount.

Visa’s Plaid deal is part of a series of rapid moves to manage challenges as diverse as gig economy payouts, real-time processing and building product stacks for technology clients. It also follows years of moves from Mastercard to serve the same goal.

Separately, Google has agreed to acquire Pointy, a Dublin startup that helps physical retailers build e-commerce search and analysis, giving Google an added path to build its merchant base for Google Pay by pushing extra merchant services.

Financial terms were not disclosed, though TechCrunch reports Google will pay about $163 million. Pointy was founded in 2014 and had drawn about $20 million in investment from Frontline Ventures, Polaris and others, TechCrunch explains.

Hasta la vista, Visa Checkout

Visa's deal to buy Plaid isn't the only major commitment it made to digital payments this week.

Visa announced it is ready to go all-in on Secure Remote Commerce, the technology behind the card brands' universal "click to pay" button, by sunsetting the Visa Checkout brand for U.S. merchants on Jan. 21.

The transition comes as Visa has reached a milestone for tokenized digital payments. The card brand has accepted $1 trillion in tokenized payments since introducing the option in 2014 alongside the launch of Apple Pay.

The goal of the SRC implementation is not only to improve security for checkout but also to streamline guest checkout payment process. Rather than create an account for each new merchant or type a 16-digit account number into a browser, shoppers can rely on SRC to permit their card account's issuer to provide secure payment data to merchants.

Dongle-free dining

Mobeewave and Incentivio teamed up to build a digital ordering platform that works across devices, with contactless payment acceptance built-in.

The pair are targeting North American restaurants, citing the high level of contactless payment adoption in Canada and the expectation that U.S. adoption will grow over the course of 2020.

Mobeewave is also involved in Samsung's work to add contactless card acceptance to its handsets. Samsung announced a $4 million investment in Mobeewave in January 2019.

Ingenico ties NFC to loyalty

The French payment technology provider Ingenico now supports Apple Pay for loyalty programs on its devices.

Through this integration, consumers can present loyalty information automatically when they tap an iPhone or Apple Watch to make a mobile payment at the point of sale.

Because this method is automatic, Ingenico says it can increase use of loyalty accounts and improve customer engagement. The system can also present a prompt to enroll with a merchant's loyalty program upon making an Apple Pay payment.

Greener payments

Diebold Nixdorf has launched a checkout system that uses more than 90% recyclable materials.

Called Beetle A1150, the device uses an Intel Core processor, solid state disk storage and user interfaces that use less power.

While the terminal manufacturer has positioned the Beetle A1150 as a "sustainable" point of sale system, it's also designed to support contactless mobile and card payments to accommodate third-party mobile wallets. The terminal includes an NFC reader, LAN, and Bluetooth.