The Future of POS Terminals in Canada

If you think back just 15 years ago, the definition of a terminal was that old manual imprinter or what we in the industry affectionately refer to as the knuckle buster.  A terminal install consisted of screwing on the copper plate that had your merchant name and merchant number stamped on it.  And your supplies were a package of slips that you would diligently have to tally at the end of every business day and bring to the bank to drop off in the deposit box.

And you could expect your deposits to appear in your account usually within 7 days… that is, if you were lucky and the batch didn’t bounce back due to a miscalculation.  But if you were unlucky enough to have a miscalculation or a missing transaction, you could call your acquirer to do a transaction search.  Of course, the standard response was “Ok, we’ll get back to you in three weeks.”  Because they had to send some poor schmo into the deposit files to go through and manually find this missing slip amidst the thousands of deposit slips that were stored there.

The appearance of the first terminal was not a pretty one.  These first generation terminals were as large as your computer keyboard (and I’m not talking about the one that’s attached to your iPad… I’m talking about the one that’s attached to your old PC desktop) and ugly.  They connected through a phone line and usually processed at the speed of a transaction per minute.  Can you imagine standing at your local coffee shop now, staring at your barrista for a minute while the transaction completed.  Slightly uncomfortable.  They were unreliable and frequently required troubleshooting.  In which you could count on a half hour phone call with your Acquirer as they walked you through the 28 steps to complete a download on the terminal…. And then hung up so you could sit there for 15 minutes while your terminal rebooted.

But you got your money faster.  And you could trace transactions faster.  And you didn’t have to go to the bank any more.

We’ve come a long way since those first generation devices and as the market evolves, demands for faster, sleeker and smarter terminals are keeping those terminal manufacturers busy.  Merchants are no longer settled for large clunky devices that take up valuable real estate on those cash counters.  And reliability is not an option.  Dependability is a requirement.  And this is why you’re seeing merchants starting to move away from the standalone units and gravitating to all in one devices that will do it.

Moneris Solutions announced an addition to their product line last week no doubt marks the way the future of equipment.  E-Select Plus Mobile is the latest addition to the e-Select suite of products.  This new feature now turns your smartphone into a terminal.  The concept is ingenious and something merchants have been asking for for a long time.  And with anticipated announcements coming from all the major terminal manufacturers, I think we’re going to see some very exciting innovations in the upcoming months.

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Matthew Hunt has been helping small businesses get set-up with Canadian Merchant Account Services since 2007 and helped 1000's do so. Join Matthew on Google+.

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