Mobile payments company I Love Velvet plans to win the business of international merchants by combining its mobile point of sale offering with broader e-commerce and security compliance tools.
"We have global customers that are running businesses in the U.S. and in Europe who want the mobile point of sale solution to be solid and easy to use in different markets, to make sure when customers are in their stores they will get the same level of service anywhere in the world," says Patrick Bouaziz, I Love Velvet's chief vision officer. "It's no longer enough to simply accept payments."
The New York-based company plans to use a mix of its own payments hardware and software, and technology acquired through its purchase of mobile payments company WeXPay, to build a suite of payments and merchant services. It supports swiped and contactless card payments, EMV, RFID and Near Field Communication. Through WeXPay, I Love Velvet also handles prepaid virtual cards, vouchers, coupons and cash transfers for an existing roster of merchants and acquirers in Europe.
"We'll have a number of platforms to enable different types of payments and related services that we can place next to WeXPay," Bouaziz says. I Love Velvet is approaching airlines, retailers, restaurants and other businesses that have locations in different countriesparticularly in airports where the merchants are most likely to encounter consumers who are accustomed to different payment methods. These merchants can offer different payment methods in different locations depending on local preferences.
"There are security protocol differences in different countries in Europe, for example," Bouaziz says. "SEPA is attempting to change that, but there are still differences."
I Love Velvet the company takes its name from a positive customer experience at a high-end jewelry store runs on all Apple smartphones and tablets. The company did not say if it plans to develop apps for other devices.
I Love Velvet operates in a crowded market of mobile payment acceptance companies, including Square, PayPal, Ingenico's Roam, Payleven, Intuit and banks such as Wells Fargo. Many of these companies have been adding services to make themselves more attractive to larger merchants. Leaf has added customer relationship and inventory management to its payments tablet, while others such as Roam and PayPal Here are pushing EMV acceptance in some countries to provide flexibility for card payments. Square and Groupon have been updating their tablet software with inventory management tools.
Despite these efforts, some vendors may not survive in the long term.
"2014 will be marked by a weeding out of the small and micro merchant mobile point of sale market," says Jordan McKee, an analyst at Yankee Group.
The shift to EMV-chip cards in the U.S. is going to be a particular challenge.
"With EMV, giving away card readers for free will not be a sustainable practice," McKee says. "Providers will have to reevaluate their approach, with a likely outcome being that they still provide mag stripe readers for free while selling EMV at a cost. They will leave it up to the merchant to decide which option to go with. EMV will expose which vendors have staying power and which do not."