There's still plenty of debate over the adoption of near field communications technologies, but ROAM Data isn't waiting around to offer an NFC mobile point of sale solution for small businesses. The company announced it will offer the first "device-agnostic" card reader for mobile POS solutions, the new “NFC Swipe” reader.
The device plugs into a smart phone or tablet’s audio jack and captures credit card data so an app can process the payment. What ROAM's dongle does is to capture either the magnetic stripe data from the back of a card, or (and this is the cool part) the data from an NFC-enabled payment method like Google Wallet or contactless card.
ROAM may not be as familiar a name as some other mobile POS providers like Square, but that's only because most of their work is behind the scenes. The company does market its own mobile POS solution, ROAMpay X, but it also provides the encrypted dongles for just about everyone else. Intuit's GoPayment, Sage Payments, First Data, Chase Paymentech and a host of others supply ROAM's encrypted dongle to their merchants who use mobile POS systems.
CEO Will Graylin said the development of the new reader was prompted by interest in NFC and contactless technologies outside the U.S. “A lot of people don’t see what’s going on both in the U.S. and internationally; 150 million phones will be sold in the next 12 months that are NFC-enabled,” Graylin said in a call with Mobile Payments Today.
That’s a trend the company wants to capitalize on as it looks to enter international markets, Graylin said. He also said interest in NFC technologies, coupled with the growth of mobile POS, meant there was a need for a low-cost mobile POS solution that could accomodate both mag stripe and NFC technologies. “If you don’t have a low cost solution to accept NFC cards, it won’t matter how many phones have NFC," Graylin said.
Like the company's other readers, the new NFC Swipe reader will work on both ROAM’s mobile POS solution and those of its white label partners. And ROAM will be releasing an API soon so that third parties looking to integrate credit card acceptance into their apps can use the device. It’s also compatible with just about any mobile device, tablet or even PC and accommodates both Visa payWave and MasterCard PayPass standards for NFC transactions.
ROAM said NFC Swipe will be available to merchants sometime in the middle of 2012. This is the first big announcement for ROAM following an infusion of capital from French POS-maker Ingenico, which took a controlling interest in ROAM in February. According to Graylin, that investment has helped ROAM get more products to market faster.
“The additional capital is accelerating our growth plans and helping us speed up our innovations and product roadmap,” Graylin said in a statement. He said the company plans to release an EMV Swipe reader that will combine chip-and-pin support with a mag stripe reader as well as a virtual mobile commerce solution.
James Wester is a technology writer and blogger with over 15 years of experience in marketing and communications in the technology and payments sectors. Prior to joining MobilePaymentsToday.com as editor he worked as Director of Corporate Communications for Chase Paymentech and ran payment operations for AOL. James has a BA in English from Drury University in Springfield, MO and an MS in IT Management from the University of Virginia.