The term "integrated payments" became common in the past five years for acquirers and terminal manufacturers seeking to deliver more services focused on business operations and customer interaction. The concept itself hasn't changed much, even as competition in this segment intensifies.
But the market has advanced to the point where some merchants may consider a semi-integrated option to speed up their conversions to EMV, meaning software comes already EMV-certified from the card brands.
Verifone's integrated payments strategy is focused around its mobile Carbon POS, and the San Jose-based terminal manufacturer has now added cloud-based POS software from talech to the Carbon platform. This update has transformed the terminal originally designed for quick-service restaurants into a tool in which most any small business can benefit, according to Verifone.
The integration of talech's cloud-based POS software makes the Carbon platform "much more than a payment terminal," said Jeff Wakefield, vice president of sales enablement at Verifone. "It is now a powerful business management tool."
Carbon still clearly operates in the same market that others such as First Data's Clover, Square Register or Revel target. Verifone is banking on talech software to give Carbon an upper hand in the small-business market by using the Palo Alto-based company's software to include order management, inventory management, employee management, business reporting, mobile order-ahead, gift cards, loyalty and e-mail marketing programs.
Verifone plans to roll out Carbon country by country, as it currently is available only in the U.S. and Israel.
"Integrated payments is increasingly a part of what I broadly define as a 'point of interaction' with the end customer," said Irv Henderson, co-founder of talech. "And that interaction, for us, means we are talking about the business owner as well as the customer who walks into a retailer or restaurant."
Regardless of how integrated payments have evolved in the past few years, the category remains disruptive, Henderson said.
A restaurant owner can now use a terminal like the Carbon to accept all payment forms, but also to introduce e-commerce capabilities, add mobile order-and-pay for customers, or link back-office and accounting operations into the payments infrastructure.
"It is not brand new that software is increasingly occupying how a business owner runs his business, but what is happening is a more efficient rationalizing of services — with some new things added," Henderson said.
Talech built a platform for a tablet POS system for restaurants and retail, and has established partnerships with Elavon/U.S. Bank, Chase, Vantiv and Global Payments to distribute and present to their clients.
Merchants using Carbon can expand their list of apps that support their business or engage with customers. And that's good news for Developer Central, Verifone's cloud-based portal that enables app developers to tap into the point of sale without having to work through other areas of the complex payments ecosystem.
Verifone has been working for several months to get Developer Central in place as a global model, providing everything needed for app creators to develop and test Android apps for Carbon, or other solutions for Verifone.
"We are emphasizing third-party software solutions like talech to integrate on our platform, such as Carbon and Engage," Verifone's Wakefield said. "This way, our channel partners and merchants such as the restaurant vertical already acquire the Verifone solution with the foundational POS software needed to run their business."
Verifone set up a similar partnership with Sage earlier this year to integrate with the Carbon platform as a way to offer business accounting tools to merchants in Europe.
Semi-integrated payment solutions represent a different scenario, but they are also becoming increasingly popular because it takes the merchant and independent software vendor out of scope for Payment Card Industry compliance, Wakefield added. But it provides updates to software as new features and wallets become available, thus reducing time to market for some of these features.