Heartland Payment Systems has invested $20 million in its first round of funding for Leaf, a company that offers a tablet designed for accepting payments.

The investment will help improve Leaf's platform, which includes the LeafPresenter tablet  and services such as its LeafBusiness portal and the Leaf Appstore. Heartland has also joined Leaf's network of distribution partners, and will build Leaf apps for payroll, mobile and online purchasing.

"Heartland is spearheading a new wave of innovation across the industry that aligns with our mission of creating an open platform that empowers business owners to aggregate valuable services under one digital fingerprint," said Aron Schwarzkopf, cofounder and CEO of Leaf, in an Oct. 1 press release.

LeafBusiness is a cloud-based analytics and management portal for small-business owners. LeafBusiness is part of Leaf's strategy to offer a range of services beyond payments. It includes employee management, performance analytics and sales information. The Leaf Appstore allows developers to build apps that cater to specific business needs or vertical markets—such as inventory management, restaurant reservation systems or kitchen display systems. Early participants in the Appstore include LevelUp and PayPal.

While analysts have been cool to Leaf's model, Heartland praised Leaf for its openness and flexibility.

"Leaf's platform is truly open in the sense of allowing business owners the freedom to work with the payment and business solution that they deem best for their individual businesses. Leaf's innovative approach represents a major paradigm shift in hospitality and retail technology—one that enables operators to affordably and quickly integrate and leverage exciting new technologies as they adapt to the ever-changing business landscape," says Bob Carr, chairman and CEO of Heartland, in a press release. 

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