12 Notable New Entrants in Payments & Commerce in 2014

The payments and commerce sector witnessed a number of prominent product launches this year. These product launches have taken place across multiple facets of the payments and commerce domain but they are contributing to the growth of the entire ecosystem. Here is a compilation of the notable product launches this year witnessed:

Apple Pay

The tech giant finally launched its contactless mobile payments system on October 20th. Apple Pay brought the power of tokenization, NFC, biometric sensor to bring a seamless way of making payments. Apple Pay has already gained a sizeable traction in the US market. Since its launch, Apple Pay has acquired partnerships with 30+ banks, 50+ merchants and numerous other stakeholders in the payments ecosystem. Apple Pay is adding more transaction numbers at an accelerated pace to its record. Whole Foods had cited that Apple Pay had already accounted for 1% of its transactions in 17 days since its launch. McDonalds witnessed 50% of its tap-and-pay transactions coming from Apple Pay since its adoption by the QSR giant. Apple Pay has given a booster dose to NFC payments. Apple Pay is currently in the phase of expanding into new geographies.

Square’s EMV Card Reader

Square had launched a new reader especially designed for chip based cards on November 12th. The reader is first of its kind for the U.S. and is priced at $29. The reader is quite compact, something that could fit in your pocket, and is compatible with both iOS and Android. Along with chip cards, it can process magstripe cards as well. The reader is highly energy efficient and could last an entire day of sales. With the chip card integration, Square is keeping up with the current regulations and the strategy to introduce the product way before October 2015 is an ideal step.

Poynt POS

The new innovation point-of-sale system was unveiled on October 29th. It is being dubbed as the world’s first ‘smart’ payment terminal. It is being dubbed as a future-proof payment terminal having the versatility of a mobile device and would be available at a price affordable for merchants. The Poynt Smart Terminal has been designed to meet all the PCI and EMV requirements since merchants have to replace their terminals by October 2015 due to the EMV mandate. It supports multiple payment methods like traditional debit/credit cards, EMV chip-based cards, NFC payments as in Apple Pay and Google Wallet and also supports payment technologies like Bluetooth and QR code. It runs on the PoyntOS, a platform developed solely for the POS system.

Etsy Card Reader

Etsy, the online marketplace, launched a card reader for its sellers based in US on October 23rd. The card reader was launched to accept credit and debit card payments in person and also help manage multi-channel sales more efficiently. The reader dubbed as Sell on Etsy Reader works in sync with the updated ‘Sell on Etsy’ app for iOS and Android. The app aides in payment processing and also records cash sales made in person. The product was launched to help Etsy’s more than 1 million sellers better run their businesses offline.

MasterCard’s Contactless Payment Card with Fingerprint Sensor

MasterCard had partnered with Zwipe to launch the world’s first first biometric contactless payment card on October 17th. The payment card uses NFC and comes with an integrated fingerprint sensor. The new product is introduced as an answer to the complex challenge of providing a fast, convenient payment solution that does not compromise on security. Zwipe’s secure biometric authentication technology holds the cardholder’s biometric data. The card contains an EMV certified secure element and MasterCard’s contactless application. The fingerprint data is stored directly on the card and not in an external database. After activation by a fingerprint scan, the Zwipe MasterCard card can be used to make a contactless payment.

WePay Clear

WePay is known for its payment services for marketplaces, crowdfunding platforms and other websites to enable online transactions. The company launched a white-label, API-based service called WePay Clear on October 8th. The new service works similar to Stripe and also offers a no-fraud guarantee. WePay Clear works both on the desktop web as well as in mobile apps. WePay Clear offers core payment processing features like merchant onboarding, credit card processing and payment settlements. Its risk management feature takes care of the issues around chargebacks which many traditional payment processors face.

Plastc Programmable Card

Plastc had announced a new digital wallet on October 7th that can replace all the existing credit cards, debit cards, access cards and gift cards in a user’s wallet. The card allows users to save 20 cards and barcodes on its flash memory. It comes with an iOS wallet app that allows users to add and manage different cards. The card looks pretty much like a standard credit card, but it has an e-Ink touch-screen, that helps users select from the stored cards. It also has Bluetooth connectivity to connect with the iPhone, rewritable RFID and support for other technologies related to payments like NFC, EMV chip, PIN and magnetic stripe. It gets charged through a wireless induction mechanism and is secured with a remote wipe feature that allows users to delete the stored cards if the Plastc card is lost. This programmable card got first week of pre-orders worth $5.2 Mn.

Clinkle Payments App

The Clinkle mobile payments app was finally launched on September 23rd after months of speculations. Clinkle lets you pay friends, get a pre-paid Visa, and earn gifts for buying stuff with your Clinkle card. Some are calling it a glorified and gamified Visa prepaid debit card program. Using Clinkle, you can send money to other Clinkle users for free as long as you send it from your bank account. When people use their Clinkle card to pay, they fill up a reward meter. After every seventh payment, Clinkle card users are awarded a Treat. The treats can be used for refund on purchases.

Amazon’s mPOS

Amazon had launched a smartphone-compatible credit card reader for brick and mortar stores on August 13th. The commerce giant unveiled the $10 reader to expand further into bricks-and-mortar retail and the rapidly evolving mobile payments arena. The new point-of-sale system, called Amazon Local Register, gives Amazon crucial data on how U.S. consumers shop offline. Amazon is using its experience in other important commerce processes such as inventory management, supply chain, loyalty programs to help small store owners and street vendors with its mpos solution.

Mobile Remittance Corridor by mHITs and M-Pesa

On 5th June 2014, Australian developer and operator of mobile payment services – mHITs – had announced that its SMS mobile wallet service has launched an international mobile remittance corridor between Australia and M-Pesa, the leading mobile money service in Kenya. The mHITs Remit micro-remittance service allows people in Australian to send money safely and conveniently to partner mobile wallet operators in other countries simply by sending an SMS including GLOBE GCASH and SMART Money in the Philippines, MTN Mobile Money in Ghana and now M-PESA in Kenya.

Paym in UK

On 29th April 2014, the Paym service was officially launched as a new service to enable users of UK’s nine biggest banks to send money to each other via their mobile phones. Paym was initially poised to target 30 Mn people in the UK. The initial partner banks included Barclays, Bank of Scotland, Cumberland Building Society, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Santander, TSB Bank & Danske Bank. Customers can utilize the Paym service to send up to £250 per day. This can be done using just a mobile number, without requiring a sort code and account number. Non-smartphone users can register to receive payments, however a smart phone app is required to send money.

Orange Cash

On 13th February 2014, Visa Europe and Orange announced the commercial launch of Orange Cash in France. This launch made Orange the first mobile network operator in France, to offer contactless mobile payments to its customers. Orange Cash is a solution designed and managed with Wirecard Card Solutions, a member of Visa Europe. The Orange Cash app takes the form of a Visa prepaid card on a smartphone, acting as a ‘mobile wallet’. Orange customers who have an NFC smartphone compatible with Orange Cash will have to go into an Orange store, to take full advantage of the Visa contactless payment solution. The Orange Cash application is based on a prepaid account that customers can top up with any of their Credit or Debit cards. Once the app has been topped up, customers can use the smartphone like any other wallet, in any retail outlet that accepts Visa contactless payments worldwide.