Mobility's incursion into merchant services is normally treated as a threat to independent sales organizations and legacy acquirers, who will find themselves on the outside as technology-based services take over the store.
But a collaboration between Paris-based Fime and Paderborn, Germany-based Aevi is melding elements of a tablet, point of sale application and app store in an attempt to put ISOs back on the inside as payments become more of an afterthought and ancillary services take center stage.
Aevi's 'Albert' is an Android-based payment terminal that allows merchants to accept a variety of payments, such as Near Field Communication-based contactless payments and EMV chip payments, in concert with specific applications tied to the business that can be accessed through an app store. Aevi has drawn some quick bank and processor support, and as such has become part of the legacy processing industry's handshake with tablets as IT relief for less technologically savvy ISOs.
"One of the main objectives is to be [early] to market, and to provide a way to accept payments that's not only a terminal but a loyalty management tool that allows merchants to manage much more than the payment," said Mikael Berrebi, vice president of the EMEA region at Fime.
Fime is providing consulting on radio frequency antenna design and other contactless payment technology, as well as some compliance services. Aevi, a subsidiary of bank IT company Wincor Nixdorf, has also lured processors Wirecard and Evo Payments which will add the Albert tablet as a merchant services option. Albert has an early deployment at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and the vendor said the new partnerships will provide scale for an international expansion.
Aevi did not make an executive available for an interview, but in a written response to questions supplied by PaymentsSource, the company said Albert would address ISOs’ and acquirers’ need for fast and constant updates to merchant systems. "Merchants can download apps from an acquirer-specific app store in order to customize their devices," Aevi's statement said, adding "Standard 'pinch & swipe' gestures make the apps easy for merchants to use and improve the quality of interactions with consumers."
Aevi did not comment directly on Apple's iOS operating system having a reputation for being more difficult for independent third-party developers to work with, but did say Albert is an Android-based device due to the fact "that we have developed an open ecosystem as its center of the solution."
By supporting Aevi's tablet, Evo and Wirecard are using a strategy similar to other processors that are looking to offer a tablet point of sale device with mobile's utility to add functions such as marketing, human resources or inventory management. For example, First Data is using an acquisition of Spree Commerce to bolster its Clover hardware unit's ability to diversify beyond payments, and Heartland's Leaf tablet-based point of sale device supports tools for third party developers.
"It's a compelling business opportunity," said Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst at consultant for Double Diamond Group, adding ISOs and acquirers are good at selling payment terminals, but not as good at selling point of sale systems. "So the idea is to disguise a tablet as a payment terminal."
Aevi's model is different than point of sale software applications such as Square Register and Shopkeep in that it's a payment terminal that can act as a point of sale system, making Albert more similar to Poynt and Verifone Carbon, Oglesby said.
The tablet is normally less expensive than terminals, but its application store can generate added revenue, Oglesby said. "So the acquirers can distribute the product through existing capabilities, while at the same time benefit from the potential upside of selling full point of sale systems and all of the software and fees that would come from that."