Clover Point of Sale Now Processing Chip-and-Pin

clover chip pin

 

As the point of sale world scrambles to get ready for the October 15th 2015 shift of liability, deep pockets and determination are proving to be big aids in getting a product EMV certified.   About ten days ago we ran a story on Highline, which was our first reported installation of an actual working EMV solution.  Today we have another.   Clover began shipping it’s new Clover Mini and Clover Mobile –  working products that process chip and pin cards –  about a week ago.  The products are now actually in the field and running according to the company.  Both Highline and Clover are processing through First Data (the compay name seems appropriate, doesn’t it?).

These last few years have brought a major push by payment processing companies into the Point-of-sale space.  For decades, processors had more or less left POS alone.  In the last five years however, factors such as the availability of cheap money, declining yields on alternative investments and growth in debit and credit card use have motivated payment processors to take marketshare in the point of sale arena.  

Companies from every corner have moved to grab a piece of the payment stream.   A matter of nickels and pennies perhaps, but a virtual river of them flowing perpetually.   Such is the state of the market today – and as a result, we write today about Clover, a division of First Data that is active in the POS space with it’s own hardware and software solution.  First Data acquired Clover roughly two years ago.

First Data processes over 1.4 trillion dollars in payments, in over 70 countries, and is the largest payment processor in the world.   It handles 2,000 transactions per second, and 59 billion transactions per year.  (source – www.FirstData.com).

The Clover product has been shipping for several years and currently has three main options with a variety of available peripherals including scales, bar code printers, bar code readers and more.  
The three main options are: Clover Mini, Clover Mobile and Clover Station. clover station1
The system seems to largely circumvent the traditional POS industry – from what I could tell, none of the usual major POS players were involved for anything from the platform to the distribution of the item.  That has to be a mildly threatening concept to some.   While the platform may not be suitable for upscale retailers, or specialty shops, it does seem to meet the needs of the entry level merchant, who may or may not have a need to track inventory.   As far as market penetration goes, management declined to provide an official number of installations.  From what I could tell, the number is not insignificant and my guess is that it exceeds the combined number of installations of the top other Cloud POS companies. 

Availabilty – the Clover website (Clover.com) – shows that the item is available through most of the major bank branches in my neighborhood.

“Clover is sold by major banks such as Bank of America, Citibank, PNC, SunTrust, and Wells Fargo, as well as by over 3000 others in the US. You can also purchase Clover from small business suppliers like Sam’s Club and Restaurant Depot as well as from many independent merchant services providers, such as First Data’s Ignite Payments division.” (Source: https://www.clover.com/buy) .

 

I had the opportunity to speak with Mark Schulze – who is “Head of App Market”, for  Clover, and has a background that includes stints at Intuit, AltaVista, AOL, IAC/Match.com and Quantcast.  
Schulze informed me that  the chip-and-pin/EMV solution was achieved with a neat programming approach – isolating one of the processors to use for PIN entry.  Once the PIN is received and processed, access to the processor is released back to the system.   The Clover Station, which has been shipping for some time is not EMV compatible in the same way – First Data is shipping their model FD40 to those users so they will be in compliance.  The two models that are EMV ready are the Mini and the Mobile.  
 
 

clover mini3

Some interesting facts about the Clover station – the printer has ethernet, has an integrated bar code reader on the side, has 4 USB ports available – can be used to integrate a scale, external barcode reader, and probably just about anything.  It can ship with or without a cradle and can be affixed to a wall.    
 
The Mobile can work with a Bluetooth printer.   The Mini can be used to send a waiter or clerk out to take payment on the spot.  
 
One of Clover’s strong points is the “app market” – a collection of third party apps that offer a unusual approach to POS development.  According to Schulze, they have 90+ apps in there, with some really interesting innovations that will help merchants do really interesting things.   The theory is that merchants who get on the platform today will benefit from the growing app universe to come.
Lots of apps will make it attractive to users, lots of users will make app development attractive to software companies.  Hopefully both sides grow simultaneously.   
 
Some of the most popular apps include:
1. Home base – employee scheduling and timekeeping.   Can text employees to remind them about shifts, allows employees to trade shifts. Schulze pointed out that
employee scheduling is one of the biggest pain points for employers. 
2. Quickbooks and Zero connectors –  for getting data to flow into Quickbooks automatically. 
 
3. The Gyft app is very popular as well.  Gyft is seamless – the merchant can just download it and a new tender type shows up on the register.   
 
4. Perka is a popular loyalty app – It can show the name and info aobut a person who has just arrived and checked into your location.   Perka was acquired by First Data about 18 months ago and we interviewed the Perka founder in 2013.
 
All in all, Clover has a number of things to offer merchants whose needs are modest or emerging.   It’s not free – the Clover Station retails for about $999, but searching on “Clover” turned up a number of resellers who will provide some Clover equipment for free, presumably to capture the payment processing business.  Given the size and success of First Data, Clover would be a safe bet for many merchants who want to start accepting credit cards.
 
 

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There is a lot happening in the payment processing world right now – be sure to scan these articles: 

Why Your New #Chip-and-Pin Card Reader Might Not Be Ready For Use
Verifone Talks About Credit Card Chip and Pin Issues
EMV Equipment, what is hot, what is available
EMV Progress Update – Cloudy with a chance of sunshine
Highline enables first EMV and Apple Pay purchases in Manhattan
The Point of Sale Industry Transitions to EMV. What progress thus far?