Real-World Perspectives on Mobile Payments


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The current state and future of mobile payments was the subject of a convenience store retailer roundtable, held here earlier this week and organized by the National Payment Card Association (NPCA), a provider of merchant-branded debit cards and mobile payments.

Led by Danilo Portal, chief information officer for NPCA, the roundtable featured chief information officers from three convenience retailers currently utilizing payment programs developed in conjunction with NPCA: David Banks of Framingham, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms Inc., Cheryl Szczesniak of Greenville, S.C.-based The Spinx Co., and Jenny Bullard of Waycross, Ga.-based Flash Foods.

Each of the retailers presented a real-world perspective on implementing a mobile payment program. A remote on-site demonstration also was held at a Cumberland Farms store in West Palm Beach, Fla.

NPCA, based in Coconut Creek, Fla., currently holds five patents related to the processing and methods for automated clearing house (ACH)-based decoupled debit and mobile payments, which offer safe and secure methods for processing payments at the pump and/or in-store through mobile phones.

“Merchants are looking for the lowest form of payment. They’re looking for decoupled mobile debit,” explained Joe Randazza, president and CEO of NPCA.

Roundtable attendees also heard presentations from several other technology companies involved in developing mobile payment solutions, including VeriFone Systems Inc., The Pinnacle Corp., Gilbarco Veeder-Root, NCR Corp., Qualcomm Retail Solutions and Zingon, a company that offers mobile point-of-sale marketing.

Smartphones had a 61-percent penetration in U.S. households as of March 2012, with a 78-percent penetration in the coveted 25- to 34-year-old demographic. Given these figures, widespread acceptance of mobile payments at the pump and in-store could give convenience stores several advantages.

According to the presenters, mobile payments eliminate the traditional credit card swipe fees and replace them with a low fixed cost per transaction. In addition, mobile payments offer a ready-made platform for targeted marketing and loyalty program enhancements. Being able to reduce costs while simultaneously maximizing customer reach is key to a successful future, the speakers said.

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