Merchants are often wary of investing in a new point of sale terminal when even newer technology may be just around the corner. Spire Payments aims to ease their concerns by offering a developer-friendly system designed to adapt quickly.

Suppliers of Spire's upcoming terminals can reconfigure the same device to deliver new functions at the merchant's request, rather than force the merchant to buy new hardware, says Spire CEO Kazem Aminaee.

"The merchant can choose a different technology at any time and the supplier can make the conversion right away," Aminaee says.

To support this approach, London-based Spire established an application development environment called "inSPire," in which software developers can work with Spire specialists to quickly develop and integrate new applications into the terminals.

Spire "created everything from scratch" in the past 18 months to support this strategy, Aminaee says.

"We have come up with something every developer can integrate on an EMV-capable terminal with various apps for payments, loyalty and gift cards," Aminaee says.

The company has been testing the terminals for the past eight weeks in Spain and the U.K. It plans an official rollout next month.

Spire's new technology provides an example of how smaller players in the payments market can differentiate themselves, says Scott Strumello of New York- and London-based Auriemma Consulting Group.

"A lot of innovation comes from the smaller companies and Spire seems to have targeted an appropriate niche here for the largest number of retailers out there – the smaller merchant," Strumello adds.

The inSPire point of sale development kit comes in the form of a single package with all necessary transactional tools and fully certified libraries. Each new application, once written and approved, will function on the complete line of Spire terminals without a need for the merchant to recertify the terminal, Aminaee says.

Spire's terminals run on the Linux operating system, a common model for free and open source software development and distribution.

Google's mobile operating system, Android, "is based on the Linux system, so it is well known as one in which someone with expertise can easily make revisions or add applications," Strumello says.

Spire's terminals and developer kit will help the retailer who determines a year or so after purchasing a terminal that he would like to develop a loyalty program, Strumello says. "Too often, those merchants discover that their terminal is out of date and they can't do the loyalty program without new equipment," he adds.

Ultimately, offering multi-app terminals to merchants will come down to a "pure price play" as the larger terminal manufacturers develop similar programs, Strumello says.

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