iPhone incompatibility and lack of apps are issues
Despite the promises of greater convenience and presumed obsolescence of “old” card machines, softPOS is still a niche payment method. Why is that?
Firstly, there are still not many apps available to merchants. Globally, many softPOS apps imply they are the “first” or “one of the first” to offer it, but most of these claims lack merit (particularly when they’re not even launched yet while others are). The race is clearly on for who will become market leaders in softPOS.
Several apps even go as far as to say that an iOS app is “coming soon”, but we know from Apple’s website that this is not yet possible (“Core NFC doesn’t support payment-related Application IDs.” – Apple Developer documents). In line with this, Visa and Mastercard directly state that their softPOS modules are created for Android only.
Apple simply does not allow developers to build softPOS for its devices, so only Android users benefit from tap-on-phone. This is a problem when over half of smartphone users are iPhone users in the UK.
There’s been speculation that Apple may be working on its own tap-on-phone payments to compete with Android, but no one knows what Apple is planning to do next regarding this.
Lastly, both consumers and merchants are used to the concept of a dedicated card reader that’s clearly not the merchant’s personal smartphone. Customers need a certain level of trust to let a stranger read their payment card, but this may not be an issue if softPOS becomes more mainstream.
As of yet, small businesses are still happy to buy a cheap card reader that most people are familiar with, and use this alongside their phone.