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SoftPos - beyond traditional retail!

When you think of Softpos what comes to mind? For most people it’s using the capability of enabling a general-purpose mobile phone, with no additional hardware dongles, to accept contactless payments. It’s usually targeted at individual traders such as market stalls, window cleaners and other small businesses, and for these types of business Softpos is indeed a great solution. The ability to accept a contactless card payment using just the phone they already have in their pocket is a huge benefit.  
I believe however that this shift to card payment acceptance on a general-purpose smart device will have far reaching consequences. Imagine a world where every computer can become a card payment terminal, it really opens up the imagination to all sorts of interesting use-cases.

Let’s discuss a few ideas.

 

Payment Enabled Taxis

The move to electric vehicles is happening fast, and one consequence of this is the fact that these vehicles all rely heavily software platforms. Some car makers are building their solutions on Android Automotive, a version of Android specially designed to run on the in-vehicle hardware. Android Automotive delivers the capability to run the full infotainment system, but it’s also capable of supporting standard Android apps.
At Abrantix we already have payment applications running on Android, both in more traditional (but Android based) POS terminals as well as on Softpos mobile phone-based solutions. So, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine a world where a taxi has a low-cost NFC reader embedded into the back of a car headrest connected to a pre-loaded a Softpos app loaded onto the Android Infotainment system, delivering a fully integrated, but totally flexible taxi payment solution. To pay at the end of your journey you would just tap the reader in the headrest with your phone or payment card, it’s a much nicer experience, and more COVID friendly than handing a traditional POS system to the customer. The traditional POS device needs management, storing and charging, it needs paper rolls and needs to be passed back and forwards in the car.

Self Service Softpos

Another area that’s encountering growth is in the use of Self-service kiosks. They are becoming more popular for buying tickets, ordering fast food, checking into a hotel etc.; there are many and various use cases. Today to accept a card payment, these devices need expensive custom hardware from one of the traditional POS vendors. These payment solutions need extra screens, PIN pads, card readers, contactless readers, all taking up space on the kiosk and delivering a sub-standard user experience. The device has got a lovely big colour touch screen, so how come I have to bend down and read the messages on the small black and white two-line display, and why do I type my PIN into that tiny, often awkwardly placed PINpad? Wouldn’t it be a better experience if the whole transaction happened on the big screen, tap the card, enter the PIN into the display? With Softpos delivered as an SDK, enabling kiosk vendors to easily integrate payment capability into their applications is easy, and payment can be easily brought into the main user experience.

Next generation eCommerce

And if it can work on a kiosk, why not on my personal computer? Imagine checking out from an online store, simply tapping your card onto an NFC reader built into your laptop and entering your PIN through the keyboard or touchscreen? It’s a much better user experience than entering all the card details manually, or storing them in your insecure browser. It’s also a more secure transaction as you can enter a PIN too, which in turn should make it a cheaper transaction for the merchant. It would lead to less drop outs at payment time, less opportunity for errors, no need for the merchant to store payment details, everybody wins.

I think the changes we are seeing with the current SoftPos initiatives are just the tip of the iceberg, the 2020’s are going to be an interesting decade to be in payments!

If you want to learn more about how Abrantix can help you deliver innovative payment capabilities, please get in touch.

 

Paul Butterworth

Paul heads up Abrantix in the UK. He has over 30 years experience working in the card payments and digital security industries. He has a particular interest and focus on the convergence between payments and mobile devices.

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