A PaymentsJournal Podcast: Smart Payment Terminals are a Smart Way to Meet the Needs of SMBs

POPcodes’ CEO and Co-Founder, Gregg Aamoth, had the pleasure of sitting down with PaymentsJournal for a conversation about meeting small business needs by utilizing the smart payment terminal. Catch up listening to the podcast below or read on for the highlights.

Smart Payment Terminals are a Smart Way to Meet the Needs of SMBs 

Deploying smart terminals at the point-of-sale benefits processors, merchants, and consumers alike. With smart terminals, consumers have the flexibility to pay how they want. Merchants benefit from multiple value-added services, and processors that deploy smart terminals can help meet the needs of small businesses.

To learn more about the benefits of deploying smart payment terminals, PaymentsJournal sat down with Gregg Aamoth, Co-Founder & CEO of POPcodes and Don Apgar, Director of Merchant Services Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group.

What makes a payment terminal “smart”?

Once upon a time, the main purpose of cell phones was to make and receive phone calls. But with the evolution of smartphones, phone calls now make up just a fraction of how consumers use their mobile devices.

Like phones, payment terminals have evolved immensely over time. “The reality is that now a smartphone is really not used as much for talking, but the vast majority of its uses [are] for other applications. And I see the same kind of evolution happening on the smart terminal side,” said Aamoth.

It is important to note that contactless payment acceptance alone does not make a terminal ‘smart.’ “A smart terminal should have multiple payment options, contactless tapping of cards, digital wallets, etc. It should have multiple communications channels, so it can be Wi-Fi enabled, GPRS enabled, and locally connected to point of sales systems. And, most importantly, it should have the ability to run multiple applications,” explained Aamoth.

Using non-smart terminals in today’s world is comparable to using old-school flip phones; it just doesn’t make sense. That’s what makes it so important to have smart terminal infrastructure with full, rich capabilities. “The user interface that a terminal affords… is just such untapped potential. So I think that the time is ripe for a smart terminal window in our payments space,” noted Apgar.

Merchant satisfaction cannot be overlooked

Much attention has been given to the consumer experience in the payments process—and rightly so. Secure and seamless checkout experiences are crucial to customer satisfaction. That said, merchant satisfaction is also critically important.

When it comes to improving the payments process for merchants, there is ample room for improvement. In fact, recent research from Jack Henry revealed that 97% of financial services executives report prioritizing investment in digital and self-service capabilities. However, a WePay study found nearly 40% of merchants still spend five hours or more per week dealing with payment related issues.

“There’s an opportunity there … clearly when you’re talking about the in-store or card present merchant, to give them more tools to make their life easier, make training associates easier, [and] make their communications and use of the tools that service providers are providing easier,” explained Aamoth.

Instant, self-serve access to resources such as in-store associate training, intuitive operation, and ongoing support help to ensure that merchants are getting the most out of their smart terminal systems. “That merchant experience is really essential in establishing that confidence and that functionality that [they are] trying to bring to the table,” he continued.

A positive merchant experience starts with the initial unboxing of the terminal. Merchants with smart terminals should be able to activate quickly. Analytics from on terminal self-help usage and merchant satisfaction surveys can inform upstream service providers where improvements can be made. Acquirers can use the digital channel they deployed at a merchant’s counter to help drive more timely, consistent, and engaging communication.

“When a merchant has occasion to reach out for a service, it’s always due to a negative effect. Something’s not working… Being able to facilitate that interaction when and where and why it’s needed through something like a smart terminal is a huge plus for a processor or even a small ISO,” explained Apgar.

Leverage smart terminals as a communication tool

Knowing the importance of a seamless startup, POPcodes first helps Acquirers and ISOs digitize the process, so their merchants quickly deploy and reap the benefits of smart terminals. This includes ensuring that merchants and associates are not left waiting for access to vital training and set-up information.

“That step between crawling and walking is making self-serve support available on the terminal, both very brief content that’s available on the terminal [and] also links and QR codes back to more content and videos and other [resources] that are on the web,” said Aamoth.

The goal is to lay the foundation for the future usage of the smart terminal’s value-added services, which are key to merchant retention and profitability. A merchant’s combination of brand awareness, functionality awareness, and value-added services awareness is what ultimately brings the full power of smart terminals to the market.

“It gives you the best of both worlds. You leverage the immediacy and instant access of that on-counter device, and then connect the process when it needs to other channels for continued dialogue,” said Aamoth.

The takeaway

Smart terminals are a win-win-win for customers, merchants, and providers. “The smart terminal definitely is a benefit to the customer. With a modern interface that is easy to interact with, multiple payment acceptance types, and new levels of flexibility, payment functionality is significantly improved from non-smart terminals,” said Aamoth.

Moving past basic payment functionality, additional value is added through features such as the customer opt-in for SMS or email communication, promotion redemption capabilities, and the ability to generate proof of an online or mobile purchase through the terminal.

“To the extent that merchants and store associates know about these features and know how to use them effectively, then both the in-store associate has a better experience with the customer, and the customer has a better experience [with] the merchant,” concluded Aamoth.