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How has SoftPoS evolved throughout the years

With the help of SoftPoS, also referred to as "Tap to Pay" technology, retailers and vendors can transform phones and other mobile devices into contactless payment terminals.  For smaller businesses, this means cost savings over traditional POS terminals, i.e. costly chip and pin machines. Meanwhile, larger retailers can rapidly increase the number of acceptance points in store, helping to reduce queues and get more sales over the line.

SoftPoS has seen continuous growth since its birth over a decade ago, with the events of the past few years serving to accelerate the technology’s adoption. According to Juniper Research, it’s expected that the total number of merchants deploying SoftPoS solutions will surpass 34.5 million globally by 2027.

In a world where the demand for contactless payments continues to grow, SoftPoS has emerged as a frontrunner to transform the payment landscape. But how did we get here and what does it mean for businesses and end users?

The Early Days of SoftPoS

First launched in 2012, SoftPoS found humble success as an emerging technology before regulatory standards and controls were established in 2018. In its early days, it lacked certain features such as the ability to read pins and had limits on how much could be spent in any given transaction.

However, the introduction of SPoC and CPoC certifications by the PCI Security Council - which set out standards for payments on mobile devices - has seen SoftPoS uptake surge among merchants in recent years. It’s also improved functionality and led to a proliferation in use cases for the technology.

Combine this with the digital innovation accelerated by COVID-19 and the market for  contactless payment solutions has exploded.

The Current State of SoftPoS

Post-pandemic, this momentum has shown no sign of abating. The past year has seen SoftPoS’ popularity reach new heights with growing interest from Big Tech and established payment players. Tech giant Apple announced it would enable third-party SoftPoS providers to deploy their solutions on iPhone last February, marking a defining moment in its development journey. 

As SoftPoS was only available to deploy on Android up until 2022, we expect to see rapid uptake of SoftPoS on iPhone devices in the coming months.

While SoftPoS solutions have traditionally been the domain of smaller businesses, as a relatively cheap and secure means of contactless payment acceptance, their growing ubiquity is catching the eye of bigger players too. For example, major card schemes like VISA and Mastercard are now recognising the benefits of SoftPoS technology as a means of increasing the number of payment acceptance points globally.

Future Advancements in SoftPoS

As we look to the future of the technology, we need to consider the rise of SoftPoS orchestrators. That is, SoftPoS providers which choose to remain bank agnostic - in order to help legacy technology providers and financial institutions bring Tap to Pay solutions to market quickly and efficiently.

This offers a significant competitive advantage that can assist companies of all sizes in growing and reaching more end users around the world.

Partnering with a SoftPoS orchestrator means that financial providers don’t have to create their own in-house payment solutions from scratch. This saves firms time, money and resources while getting to the same end goal faster.

Businesses can instead spend their time focusing on other areas of product and customer service development as they can rely on the orchestrator's domain knowledge and expertise when it comes to deploying a SoftPoS solution.

As the technology is based on a mobile device its use cases are plentiful for customer businesses. From taking orders and payments in a restaurant via a single app to the creation of ‘endless aisles’ in enterprise retail environments. 

With the number of SoftPoS orchestrators increasing, we expect to see continued interest from financial resellers, and direct from merchants alike, in the months ahead.

Moving Forward…

Over the past few years, SoftPoS has gone through numerous modifications and regulatory hurdles to get where we are today. The technological boom and accelerated demand for contactless and mobile payments as a result of the pandemic further advanced its adoption journey.

As we see more tech giants enter the SoftPoS space, it’s likely that we’ll see greater consolidation in the market along with an expansion in use cases in 2023. This will only help grow the global reach of SoftPoS further, as financial technology providers and larger merchants start to explore the benefits it can bring to their businesses.

 

 

 

 

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Brad Hyett

Brad Hyett

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Payments strategies 2015-2020-2030

Payments systems visions, strategies, trends, pilots, forecasting, and planning for the short-, medium-, and far-term.


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