Voice of the Industry

Android in payments: Why the coolest innovations happen first in the smallest retailers

Monday 21 February 2022 07:49 CET | Editor: Anda Kania | Voice of the industry

Ian Benn, Global Head of Strategy at Ingenico, a Worldline brand, looks at what’s driving the increasing demand for Android payment terminals, and why small businesses are leading the charge

The best technology always used to be found in the biggest, most powerful corporations. Mainframes were not in credit unions or cafés – only banks and governments. These were the only institutions that could afford to buy them, staff them, and plumb them in – sometimes literally. The heat from mainframes was often used to heat entire buildings. 

But these scale advantages are often outweighed by their flipside: complexity. Many of us have lived through major IT refreshes in big retail and know that the golden rule of project management stands: the first 80% of the project takes 80% of the time… And the remaining 20% of the project takes the other 80%!

Today, technology revolutions happen at a much smaller scale. Much has been written about Microsoft missing the rise of the smartphone, rendering personal computing irrelevant to a chunk of their market and leading to many years of recovery work. Smartphones win out because they are powerful computing devices in the place where they are most needed. It’s also such a vast market that the smartest people can make money by adding value to them. 

That right place, right time factor affects the payments industry too. In a big store, there are powerful EPOS systems at the counters and huge ERP systems in the back office. That’s why large retailers have amazing levels of efficiency and can adapt quickly to changes in supply and demand. Yet the customer experience is not always so agile.

In a café or corner shop, often the only computing infrastructure is a payment terminal and the owner’s mobile phone, making it easy to adapt. 

Local commerce is getting stronger

The pandemic was hard on small merchants who had to adjust quickly to new regulations and changing consumer behaviours. Digitalisation was their path to recovery and growth, and, through their payment terminals, they accelerated cashless trends, building an ever more important point of interaction with their customers.

Indeed, small businesses have clearly identified offering new products, new ways to pay and new services as their priorities for growth in 2022

One good example comes from Italy, where the payment institution Moneynet, uses Ingenico's Android terminals to accept digital payments and provide value-added applications to its merchants so they can improve the shopping experience. For details, and more examples, please see the link to our whitepaper below.

Why Android brings new business opportunities

Demand for Android-based payment terminals is exploding. They are rugged and secure like traditional terminals, but they also open a world of other opportunities. An Android terminal with a recent software release (Ingenico’s Axium devices run Android 10), allows even very small businesses to offer more payment options, measure customer satisfaction, introduce loyalty programmes, offer click-and-collect and even manage their stock and payroll.

It means that the local store can offer everything from loyalty to cryptocurrency within a few menu swipes whilst their bigger rivals still struggle with even small changes.

There are three vital factors to make all this come to life

1. Confidence that the technology is secure. Android is an operating system – a place where applications can live. Android itself is extremely secure, but any application within it is only as secure as the coding behind it. Companies like Ingenico have spent decades not just building secure software but creating rigorous processes for tracking, managing, and reporting security risks, sharing new findings openly across the market. As a shared OS, Android brings economies of scale to R&D, but unlike traditional terminal operating systems, it changes frequently, and tends to host many more different applications. That means the development effort needed to keep it secure can be greater. The good news is that a well-developed Android terminal is every bit as secure as a proprietary device.

2. A thriving ecosystem. Few business owners have time to build systems for themselves. They rely on their technology provider to deliver something understandable, valuable, and working from the start. No provider can do all that in house. Instead, to meet market demands, providers must build and curate solutions that rely on multiple partners, that are intuitive to use and easy to implement. Technology providers like us are investing heavily to create a place for that ecosystem to thrive. It means providing open-standard APIs – even to our competitors. And it means replacing code with workflow tools. We are doing some cool things with the Payments Platform as a Service concept – take a look. 

3. Commercial flexibilityTraditionally, terminals lasted a long time; in Europe, for example, around five years and often longer. But that was when these devices were only used to accept card payments. If the terminal is a more general computing device, the lifecycle is likely to accelerate. After all, 4-year-old mobile phones can struggle. Increasingly, our customers ask us to share the risk on the lifespan of our devices by charging a lower up-front cost and a monthly software fee that gives us a shared incentive to maximise the life of the terminal. This is good business sense for all concerned and good for the planet too. 

The latest generation of Android terminals will change a lot in our sector, helping even the smallest merchant to put the customer at the centre of their business. 

To learn more about the solutions that are changing the world of the smaller merchant, read our Android whitepaper or you can contact us here.

About Ian Benn

Ian Benn is the Global Head of Strategy and Business Development at Ingenico, a Worldline brand. Previously, he has held several senior roles in the payments and technology industry, including leading payments for FIS in EMEA, and global marketing at Misys. He is also a qualified coach and mentor working with a number of start-up business leaders. Ian is a member of the Pennies Foundation Advisory Board and author of books on outsourcing and successful proposal writing. He is a frequent industry speaker and blogger and is seldom short of an opinion. 

About Ingenico, a Worldline brand

Worldline is the European leader in payment services and the fourth largest player worldwide. Powered by over 20,000 employees in more than 50 countries, we provide our clients with sustainable, trusted, and secure solutions across the payment value chain, fostering their business growth wherever they are. 

Free Headlines in your E-mail

Every day we send out a free e-mail with the most important headlines of the last 24 hours.

Subscribe now

Keywords: mPOS, SoftPOS, ecommerce, mobile payments, SMEs
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce

Industry Events