Apple Pay. Google Wallet. Square. Paypal. Affirm. Coin. Plastc. Visa. Mastercard. Chase. Capital One. Everybody wants to collect a toll on the post-credit-card future of payments. They all use differing standards and technologies.But who will win?
Maybe the answer is simpler than we thought: Who cares?
Because the former head of Google Wallet, Osama Bedier, is launching a new product called Poynt ($300). It’s a completely nonpartisan point-of-sale (POS) terminal for the small retailer. Sporting a unique wedged design, one half is a tablet for the cashier, the other half is a small screen for the customer. Beneath all this screen and casing lives a ton of software and hardware to connect the two.
On the hardware end, it can accommodate traditional credit cards, those new chipped credit cards, Apple Pay and Google Wallet (via NFC), QR codes (via some sort of camera), and Bluetooth payments. And then, on the software end, Poynt runs a custom version of Android that can be fitted with any and all manner of app.
So in theory, no matter what sort of new-fangled payment service or style a customer may prefer, Poynt should be able to translate it like a Rosetta Stone for your pocketbook.
Now, is Poynt enough to solve the entire payment industry’s problems? Maybe not. Recently, we’ve seen Rite Aid and CVS pull support for Apple Pay (largely to protest the charges taken by Visa and Mastercard via Apple Pay) in order to push their own QR-code-based bank-to-bank transaction. In the case of these drug stores, it’s not a technology or interface problem that’s holding up the future of easier, more secure payments. It’s the question of who gets the biggest cut in the process. And that, unfortunately, may be a problem that clever design cannot solve.
But for the everyday retailer who just wants to stay out of the politics, Poynt seems to be the Sweden of mobile payments–a potential safe spot to hole up until this whole silly war is over.