The problem with basing a mobile point of sale system on Apple products is the merchant invariably pays Apple prices. E-Nabler aims to demonstrate that the same capabilities can be had on Android tablets and smartphones for at least half the price.

When the price of the mobile device and other required technology are factored in, an Android-based point of sale system costs about $750, said Matt Inan, director of business development and sales operations for e-Nabler. But on iOS and Windows-based systems, which e-Nabler also supports, the cost typically ranges from $1,500 to $2,500, Inan said.

That cost difference is partly due to how third-party developers access the various systems, Inan said. "Apple controls the development chain much more closely," he said, adding e-Nabler maintains more control over development on Android devices.

"The product can scale easily and quickly, and you can get a payment system to market quickly," Inan said. Another factor that keeps cost down is it's easier for eNabler to use Android to add peripherals  such as a printer, scanner or cash drawer, he said.  

The company just made its eMobilePOS software available for smartphones and tablets running Android versions 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) up to 5.1 (Lollipop).

E-Nabler's target markets include sports operations, such as college sports, and auto racing. In these scenarios, the payment system is used seasonally and is packed up and moved to each event location.

"We have many NCAA universities, for example, that want to use the same payment system at their football stadium at one time of the year, and the baseball stadium at another time," Inan said.

NASCAR is an early user of the Android version, Inan said. The auto-racing circuit deploys the point of sale system at venues where there are a number of vending stands and tens of thousands of spectators.

"Once the race is over, there isn't nearly the need for the payment terminals, so NASCAR takes the tablets off to the next venue," Inan said.

E-Nabler faces a number of challenges, starting with a crowded market of technology companies that offer tablet-based software and hardware to sell payments services to small businesses, seasonal businesses and merchants that have staff that move among customers at events such as festivals or sporting events.

Powa, for example, recently partnered with Bindo to integrate Bindo's iPad point of sale software to Powa's hardware. Square has made a number of changes to diversify its offerings for micromerchants; and to broaden its appeal to larger businesses. That includes new e-commerce tools, multi-currency support for its Register point of sale and business management app, and sales analytics.

Heartland's Leaf subsidiary operates an app store for its tablet-based point of sale system, and First Data has aggressively expanded the capabilities of its Clover point of sale system.

There are also security challenges in adding a point of sale system to a tablet or smartphone, said Tim Sloane, vice president of payments innovation for Mercator Advisory Group.

"Few smartphones are sufficiently secure to protect against all of the payment fraud efforts that organized criminals are almost certainly going to commit," Sloane said, adding Samsung's Knox and Google's M (the next version of Android) both are making security improvements, and more device manufacturers are implementing trusted execution environment technology which will also boost security. But, he still says implementing point of sale payment terminals on devices that can download any software from the Internet still carries security risks.

Inan said the greater control provided by Android aids security, as does e-Nabler's use of native language on all of the operating systems it support. Also, e-Nabler adheres to PCI DSS and other security protocols, he said.

E-Nabler's system handles mag stripe, EMV, and Near Field Communication payments, as well as invoicing, customizable receipts, inventory management and integration with business programs such as QuickBooks, SAGE, Retail Pro and Microsoft Dynamics RMS. E-Nabler has also partnered with Powa, Samsung, CRS, Honeywell Scanning and Mobility, and Star Micronics in an attempt to broaden device and peripheral access.

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