23 April 2023

Soft point-of-sale terminals: A hotbed of innovations

Features such as merchant self-onboarding and personal identification number (PIN)-based transactions are likely to be added to soft point-of-sale (PoS) terminals to make them more attractive and user friendly, banking industry experts said. The use of soft PoS terminals is witnessing a rapid growth. One such feature is to integrate merchant onboarding applications with the soft PoS application to make the merchant onboarding process hassle-free, said Akhil Handa, chief digital officer at Bank of Baroda. According to him, integrating the mobile banking apps with soft PoS will eliminate the need for merchants opting to avail of soft POS services to search for the same in Play Store or SMS-based link from the bank to download. Also ReadDigital payments adoption among merchants, kiranas most effective through A-B-C-D principle Certain companies have developed solutions that allow cardholders to securely enter the PIN on the merchants mobile screens to allow transactions of over Rs 5,000, Pushpendra Sharma, head digital channels, RBL Bank, said. Aggregators are also providing super app experience with multiple payment modes including soft POS, payby link and UPI QR in one app. Indiastack solutions like digilocker, Aadhar, etc also allow merchants to be instantly onboarded in do-it-yourself mode on consolidated apps itself, he added. SoftPoS, or software PoS is the application that is downloaded on mobile devices to execute the mPoS. The total PoS machines deployed by banks rose 28.3% year-on-year to 7.8 million as on March 31. Soft PoS taps into a smartphones hardware capabilities like near-field communication technology, device location and finger-print authentication to enable payments and a range of other services. A typical PoS machine costs around Rs 12,000. On the other hand, a smartphone worth Rs 7,000 can be enabled to perform the functions of a typical PoS terminal, say experts. Soft PoS enables acceptance of a wide range of payments like UPI and wallets. Currently, the Reserve Bank of Indias limit on soft PoS is Rs 5,000 without a PIN. Despite the widespread adoption of UPI-based transactions, the proportion of soft PoS within overall terminals is still minuscule. Hence, new features can accelerate the adoption of soft PoS for both merchants and customers, said bankers. Also ReadContactless payments: Number of merchants using SoftPoS solutions to grow nearly 500% in five years: Report Additionally, new features like equated monthly instalments and buy-now, pay-later can facilitate increased sales at the merchants end. The main challenge with adoption of soft PoS is the lack of near-field communication-enabled smartphones as a wide section of Indias populace still uses feature phones. We feel that with increasing usage, more people will get the grasp of it (soft PoS). However, the adoption in rural and low network coverage areas could be slow till the infrastructure improves, Rajan Pental, executive director, YES Bank, said. Nevertheless, experts said soft PoS can replace traditional terminals due to the lower cost. Like how PoS machines took some time to take hold at merchant locations, softPoS, too, will take some time (maybe a year or so) before it becomes widespread. It is an ideal channel for smaller towns and cities where cost could become a point of contention, Sunil Rongala, senior vice president strategy, innovation and analytics, Worldline India, said.

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