VeriFone Systems Inc.’s $9 million deal this week to buy mobile point-of-sale terminal maker Way Systems Inc. is not surprising to analysts who follow the POS device industry (see story). 

“What is true is that it’s very hard to be a small-scale producer of payment terminals,” Gil Luria, a vice president of equity research at Los Angeles-based Wedbush Securities. “It takes a very big scale to make money in it.”

VeriFone jumped into the mobile POS-device business earlier this year when it launched PayWare Mobile, a payment-acceptance service for Apple Inc.’s iPhone (see story). 

Will Graylin, a Way founder and now CEO of Roam Data Inc., a Boston-based mobile-payment technology company he cofounded in 2007, says Way was “quite an innovative company a few years ago.” Founded in 2002, Way was among the first companies to offer a pocket-size payment device, Graylin says.

Way’s investors in 2007 brought in a different CEO “and pushed out the founding team,” Graylin says. “Their revenue has since declined significantly and they are still marketing the same products I helped design half a decade ago.”

VeriFone will benefit from Way’s distribution channel of more than 100 independent sales organizations that resell Way’s devices and payments services, Luria says. More than 25,000 merchants use Way’s mobile POS devices, VeriFone says. Way had no direct-to-merchant sales, a VeriFone spokesperson says.

 “VeriFone is buying [merchants] that use mobile payment terminals,” Luria says. “They get these incremental customers and the distribution channel that [VeriFone] can put on the nice infrastructure they built for their iPhone product.”

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