And so the European mobile point-of-sale (POS) terminal wars continue. With iZettle, Payleven, Adyen, mPowa and SumUp all trying to replicate Square’s dongle-based model in the EU, the various stages in this scramble for the mobile merchant tend to involve the signing of distribution partnerships or the support of new cards or card technologies.
Yesterday it was iZettle adding chip-and-pin capabilities — as happened earlier this month with Payleven — and partnering up with Banco Santander, and today it’s SumUp’s newfound support for American Express cards.
SumUp is still working on the technical implementation for the deal, and its merchants will start being able to take payments from AmEx cardholders in the second quarter of the year in the UK, Germany, Ireland, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. Belgium and Portugal should follow, though SumUp is still in negotiations with American Express on that point.
This is not the first such firm to sign with AmEx – after all, American Express has actively invested in iZettle. However, according to SumUp, the deal means the company “will accept more types of cards in more regions than any other mobile point-of-sale technology provider worldwide”. Co-founder Stefan Jeschonnek told me SumUp has “several tens of thousands of merchants” now using its terminals, and “several thousand” are joining each week.
SumUp does have an extra trick up its sleeve, too: later this year it will be bringing out the slightly Square Wallet-ish SumUp Pay, which will let end-users pre-approve a participating merchant through an app, then pop up on that merchant’s system as soon as they walk into their shop – the idea there is to allow purchases based on a simple verbal interaction with the merchant, without the need for even taking the phone out.
And according to Jeschonnek, SumUp will be able to exploit its growing installed base of merchants to crack the classic chicken-and-egg problem associated with mobile wallet schemes:
“We’re making payments smoother today with the card reader, but we’re thinking about how things should work in the future. We are building technology to make that real-world interaction possible again… The difference this time around is that we already have a pretty large and fast-growing merchant base. For our merchants to accept SumUp Pay will be as simple as updating their app.”
He added that SumUp Pay would also provide a nifty way around Visa’s stringent authentication procedures, which have previously proved a stumbling block for the likes of iZettle, when it launches later this year.
It’s good to see companies innovating in the financial technology space, and SumUp’s focus on in-house technological development theoretically places it well there. That said, with the mobile POS wars as heated as they are in Europe right now, I would not be in the least bit surprised to see a rival try to beat SumUp to its frictionless payment goal.