Why should indies adopt smartphone payment systems? The bosses of Mini Checkout and PayPal Here explain the benefits of their systems for retailers and customers

This month’s masters

Peter O’Toole is the founder of Retail Merchandising Services (RMS) and CEO at Mini Checkout. He previously worked as a development director at Musgrave GB and was head of format development at Kwik Save/Somerfield.

Narik Patel is the director of PayPal Here (UK). PayPal Here UK was launched in February 2013 and, after being piloted by a wide range of businesses, was made widely available in August.

Why did you decide to launch your new payment system in the UK?

Peter O’Toole: On a recent visit to Canada, I was hooked on a mobile app called Mini Checkout and felt it would be a perfect fit for c-stores. I decided to invest and become Mini Checkout CEO to drive the offer to independent retailers. Kishor Patel is the first retailer to pilot the first mobile payment app for convenience retailing in Europe and I have no doubt others will want this concept.

Narik Patel: We decided to launch PayPal Here to solve one of the critical challenges faced by UK small businesses: getting paid. The British-designed chip and PIN reader is aimed at businesses that have traditionally relied on cash or cheques. It is a game changer for SMEs, giving businesses an affordable, easy-to-use and secure way to accept credit and debit cards with PayPal Check-In, meaning they don’t have to turn away customers who don’t have enough cash. Also, taking payment by cash and cheque can seem the easiest option, but many businesses have realised the impact that the security risk, inconvenience to customers and ‘Friday afternoon wait’ at the bank can have both on their time and bottom line. That said, many businesses are deterred from signing up with traditional card processing companies because of the high fees, long-term contract commitments and bulky handsets.

How does the system work?

O’Toole: You download the app and start scanning products. You need to show your mobile receipt at the end of your shopping trip, which is zapped by the cashier in a ‘mobile station’ in the till area when you’re leaving the store. You can then pay on the go.

Patel: PayPal Here is easy to set up. The first step is to download the free PayPal Here app, then order the card reader through the app and connect it to a smartphone or iPad via Bluetooth. That’s it - businesses can be ready to accept payments straight away. Whether the business user is a shopkeeper, someone delivering food orders or a market trader, they are now able to offer customers the flexibility to pay by card anywhere they are trading. PayPal Here also allows businesses to log cash and cheques and send electronic receipts and invoices. Their customers can also pay using PayPal Check-In using the PayPal consumer app on their mobile phones.

What are the main benefits that independent shopkeepers who use your system will reap?

O’Toole: Reduced labour costs at the tills, reduced hardware costs, analytical information on shoppers without a loyalty card. Promotional information can also be communicated to customers via the app.
Patel: Put simply - getting paid! People are carrying less cash and are less likely to have cheques with them. Businesses can be paid quickly and securely, receiving the funds directly into their PayPal account. The system is fully encrypted to help protect customers’ card information. PayPal is also partnering with product designer Bouncepad to offer a way to turn an iPad into a stylish cash register powered by PayPal Here. A triangular base allows users to flip the screen to interact with customers on the other side of a sales desk.

How much does the service cost?

O’Toole: We’re finalising the exact costing, but it will probably be between 1.5-2%.

Patel: There’s no contract or ongoing fees, just a one-off payment of £99 (including VAT and free delivery) for the chip and PIN card reader. There is a 2.75% transaction fee for every payment accepted with chip and PIN cards and PayPal Check-In.