The mobile point of sale market already seems overcrowded, but what's out there now is just a taste of what's to come, according to 451 Research.

The global installed base of mobile point of sale technology will grow to 54.03 million units in 2019 from 13.3 million units this year. That's a fourfold increase and a 32% compound annual growth rate.

The factors driving the growth are diverse and cover a range of geographies and industries. In emerging markets, mobile point of sale terminals promote financial inclusion. In more developed economies, the technology is a line-buster at retailers and helps overall engagement.

"We think of mPOS as a fairly well penetrated technology, but we've only scratched the surface," said Jordan McKee, a senior analyst covering mobile payments for 451 Research.

In North America, larger businesses with more than 1,000 employees are increasingly deploying mobile point of sale technology, and 87% of IT decision makers say that accepting card payments on a mobile device and providing a real-time receipt is important, according the research.

That expands mobile point of sale well beyond its micro-merchant roots, and has led to companies such as Square, Roam and Revel to steadily add technology to reach a broader range of merchants.

Traditional processors have also become more diversified. First Data bought the Clover tablet point of sale system and made it a major part of that company's strategy, and Heartland has done the same with Leaf.

"We have only begun to see that come to life," McKee said. "Over the next few years you will see retailers using mPOS more holistically across the organization."

Despite that momentum, mobile technology is not replacing other hardware and processes on a large scale, McKee said.

"MPOS won't displace fixed point of sale terminals; for the foreseeable future, it's a complementary solution," McKee said, comparing the impact to the early introduction of payment cards on cash.

There will be some circumstances in which mobile point of sale will leapfrog fixed payment terminals, mostly in situations where these terminals were never mature, such as emerging markets.

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