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Apple’s Magic Touch Moving Closer To POS Integration With New Apps

Tapping a device that’s already known and loved by consumers, retail solution providers are offering an innovative approach to potentially streamline the checkout process by leveraging the iPod touch and iPhone.

As Retail TouchPoints recently reported, Apple is leveraging its own novelty in its devices to mobilize transactions within its retail stores with the EasyPay device, Apple’s iPod touch-based system.

Now the opportunity to engage customers with the ubiquitous Apple device is moving to other retailers, as vendors are unveiling technology that leverages the sleek, sophisticated capabilities of the iPod touch.

Global Bay Mobile Technologies unveiled its mobile point of sale (MPOS) for the iPod touch. The solution is designed to deploy a point of sale handheld solution with similar functionality to the Apple Easy Pay POS device. The sled component, which houses the iPod touch and comes complete with a mag stripe, will also be able to support the iPhone device within the next three months, according to Global Bay’s VP of Business Development, Harlan Eplan.

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Although the manufacturer of the sled device Global Bay is using has not been identified, industry reports suggest the company will be working with the same company supplying Apple’s stores.

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Global Bay’s solution is vendor-agnostic and designed to be readily integrated with retailer’s existing POS systems, and Eplan said it has currently been integrated with Raymark and SAP’s back end systems.

“Hardware manufacturers are rapidly releasing hardware add-ons for the iPod touch which allow sales associates to scan products, accept credit card payment and print receipt,” said Sandeep Bhanote, Globay Bay CEO. “We plan on supporting our retailers by supplying the handheld software that leverages these devices.”

Global Bay has three retail customers that will be piloting the technology by the end of Q1, according to Eplan. “This is an exciting area for us,” Eplan said. “We’re also doing customer-facing applications for Apple [including a gift finder application for Coach]. It’s an interesting space now.”

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Another solution called FaceCash, from software developer Think Computer Corporation, offers a Web-based point of sale system that does not require software installation and is in trial use by several merchants in the Palo Alto, California area. The solution is designed to enable customers to send money from their bank account to and pay for items via FaceCash. To allow merchants to verify identity, customers can upload a photo to their FaceCash account, where it’s displayed at checkout.

The FaceCash solution requires retailers to have a barcode scanner, an Internet connection and a computer with a screen that displays a browser. FaceCash is targeting small- to medium-sized retailers. It incorporates a POS system with a full accounting suite in the back-end. FaceCash is still in the private beta stage.

Startup company Square, co-founded by Twitter creator Jack Dorsey, is hoping to rollout software and hardware that utilizes the iPod touch for retail and commercial use. The San Francisco-based company’s technology is designed to accept payment cards immediately without contracts or monthly fees.

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The software is designed to read payment cards from any device with an audio input jack, including the mobile phone. The technology is designed to enable the payer to have receipts sent to an email or mobile phone instantly and access them securely online. Payers can also use a text message to authorize payments in real-time. Photo verification is used to visually confirm cardholder status.

The verdict is still out on whether Apple will commercialize its POS solution for the retail environment. Since the debut of the EasyPay system, inquires have been plentiful among various companies, including end-user small businesses, larger chains and system integrators. Until now, Apple’s response has been that the iPod POS is a proprietary product, unavailable for sale.

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