When Mitchell Cobrin became the new president and CEO of HomeATM ePayment Solutions in March, it signaled a shift in the company’s business model.
HomeATM has no plans to abandon enabling PIN-debit transactions at home with its PCI-certified personal card-swipe device and PIN pad. But the company also now plans to promote an “anywhere commerce” model in which merchants such as flea market vendors may use HomeATM’s device with a mobile phone, laptop and even Apple Inc.’s iPad to conduct transactions.
HomeATM is in negotiations with a major merchant and a personal-computer tablet manufacturer to leverage its card-swipe device and PIN pad in different ways, Cobrin tells PaymentsSource. The merchant would use the device in a “line-busting” environment, he says.
Line-busting refers to a checkout method in which merchant staff on the floor use a handheld, wireless device to process transactions instead requiring the customer to wait in line at checkout. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. uses such a system during peak hours at its popular restaurant locations.
Cobrin believes the agreement will help give HomeATM more marketplace exposure. He declined to reveal the merchant.
Paul Turgeon, president of Payments & Processing Consultants Inc., believes HomeATM’s device is well suited for line-busting situations and for mobile merchants in general. “There are lots of those kind of merchants who are spending a lot of money equipping themselves to take credit cards,” he adds.
The tablet manufacturer would integrate the device via software on the computer. “PC manufacturers are starting to look at supplementary revenue streams, and payments is a natural avenue,” says Cobrin, who declined to reveal the manufacturer.
While HomeATM primarily focused on card-present PIN-debit transactions, Cobrin emphasizes the company’s foremost desire is to enable safe and secure payments, regardless of the method. The device also supports signature-debit and credit card transactions.
Cobrin, however, believes PIN debit will become a much more attractive option for mobile merchants if Congress approves the financial-reform bill. The bill includes an amendment authored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill, that would require the Federal Reserve Board for the first time to set debit card interchange rates according to “reasonable and proportional” standards.
HomeATM would distribute the devices via a third-party, such as an independent sales organization.
Merchants could use the device with an existing processor relationship or with HomeATM’s processing options that include eFunds Corp., a subsidiary of Fidelity National Information Services Inc.
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