Money 20/20: Mobile Solutions Help SMBs Harness Big Data (Nov. 6, 2014)
The current boom in mobile commerce technologies is giving small and medium businesses (SMBs) an array of powerful new tools with which to manage payments—and beyond. During a panel discussion on the closing day of Money 20/20 in Las Vegas, a group of industry experts assessed how these advances are changing the game for today’s SMBs.
While consumer-facing mobile payments products, such as Apple Pay, might dominate the headlines, the most transformative changes for SMBs could be those that streamline internal processes, such as inventory and expense management, said Omar Qari, co-founder of Abacus, a startup that offers streamlined expense report processing. “The most powerful thing about mobile is allowing for real-time workflows [and] breaking down everything that used to be a batch process into a real-time stream of data,” he said. “Out of that come things like instant visibility into analytic insights, and the ability for teams to collaborate and all have immediate access to the same information.”
Meanwhile, integrated POS solutions, such as First Data’s Clover and the recently unveiled Poynt, offer SMBs new insights into their business—the type of information that used to be available only to larger companies with sophisticated data systems. Such services enable SMBs to track sales activity over time, identify trends, evaluate promotions and gain insight into their customers, noted Matt Taylor, president, integrated payments, Vantiv Inc. “Being able to understand what’s going on with your business is a very powerful tool,” he said.
Despite the potential benefits of mobile products and services, SMBs do face some barriers to adoption, which providers must overcome by making the process as easy—and inexpensive—as possible. “A small business owner has not much time to think about implementing a solution and not much capital to deploy a solution,” Taylor noted. The coming EMV mandate and increasing concerns about payment security should help bolster the value proposition for new products, but it still has to come at a price point that makes sense for SMBs, he added. To that end, the pricing model adopted by Poynt could be promising. The brainchild of former Google Wallet head Osama Bedier, Poynt is priced at break-even cost, with the company earning revenue by taking a cut from sales of apps sold through the platform.
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