Breaking News Emails
Osama Bedier launched Google Wallet in 2011, but the Apple Pay predecessor couldn't convince customers to use smartphones instead of credit cards. Now Bedier is trying to revolutionize payments again with Poynt: a new payment terminal that lets retailers do a lot more than swipe a credit card.
Poynt is a $299 device that accepts "every kind of payment" Bedier could think of, he told NBC News in an interview: traditional debit or credit cards, chip-and-PIN cards, near-field communication or NFC (like Apple Pay and Google Wallet), PayPal's Beacon, Bluetooth and more.
On top of the varied payment options, Poynt also adds the features and app ecosystem of a traditional tablet. And the device looks more like a tablet than a traditional card swiper.
On the merchant side is a 7-inch touchscreen -- which can be used to accept cards or cash, as well as use a slew of Poynt apps -- and the customer sees a 4.3-inch screen to check the transaction or enter a PIN.
The company, which launched Wednesday, is selling its first 1,000 devices to developers. Poynt will ship to merchants in spring 2015.
"I've thought we needed a new solution to payment terminals for five years -- they haven't been updated in decades," said Bedier, who founded Poynt in 2013 after leaving Google. "And now there's finally a chance. This kind of change comes once in a lifetime."
Bedier is referring to the United States' switch to chip-and-pin (also known as EMV) cards, which add a microchip to the credit card for an additional layer of security. The major American card issuers are making a policy change in October 2015 -- which will force retailers to buy new payment terminals anyway.
"I would absolutely not launch [Poynt] if this weren't happening," Bedier said. "If Google [Wallet] couldn't convince retailers to change [their payment terminals], no one can. That's why Apple Pay is launching now, why we're launching now. It finally allows for some innovation in the space."
But Poynt isn't solely about payments, Bedier said. In addition to accepting cards or cash, a merchant can use Poynt to check out the business' recent Yelp reviews, ring up orders, create customer profiles, handle staff scheduling -- and anything else that a third-party developer might create through a Poynt app.
"It's designed to bring you computing power that lets you do all of your business on this device, if you choose to do that," said Bedier, who prior to his stint at Google spent nine years running product at PayPal.
The device can also print receipts, scan barcodes and connect to Wi-Fi. Poynt is also compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security standards, Bedier said.
At $299, the Poynt terminal is priced similarly to "dumb" terminals, and the 30-person company breaks even on the devices, Bedier said. Poynt will make money by taking a percentage of app subscription costs.
"If I could get [the price] to $99, I would," Bedier said. "There's no need to make money on the hardware when there's so much opportunity in payments right now."