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Banks Crash the Mobile POS Party

I keep seeing Square’s mobile point of sale (POS) app at more and more little shops: cafes, bakeries, the local flower shop and the place I get my hair cut.

Square and its disruptive cousins, including Intuit’s GoPayment, PayPal’s Here, iZettle, Payleven, and Swiff, have been making it easy for small businesses to accept credit card payments using just a smartphone or tablet. They’ve been attracting retailers to their elegant, affordable solutions for the last few years, cutting banks off at the pass.

Gone are the days of merchants having to rely on a bank and an Ingenico POS terminal. But now, banks are starting to respond with their own solutions.

BBVA Compass just introduced its Business Mobility Bundle, designed to provie “micro-businesses” (the smallest of the small) with a suite of products that competes head-on: a free Samsung Galazy Tab 3, card reader, online and mobile banking, remote check deposit, and no monthly fee.

Lloyd’s Bank has announced it’s partnering with mobile money provider Monitise to offer something similar this fall: a low-cost, mostly mobile banking package for small businesses. Monitise is offering a white-label app, so we may well see more banks and operators jumping on board this way.

Last year, Commonwealth Bank of Australia released a proprietary POS tablet—an Android device called Albert. Earlier, the bank released its CommBank Leo app, which, like Square, turns an iPhone or iPod Touch into a credit card swipe terminal. Like Apple has done with its mobile devices, iOS platform and App Store, CommBank is looking to create its own secure ecosystem, complete with developer portal (CommBank Pi) and store of approved apps.

They’re late to the mobile POS part, but the banks have finally started to arrive. It’ll be interesting to see how the start-ups react. Square has already moved on to the next phase with its Pay with Square app, which allows you to pay without event taking out your wallet.

In the end, it’ll come down to the best price, best solution, and who small businesses prefer to work with.

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