There are few details about the new Plaso system, as the initial information sparking the rumors about the new system's capabilities comes from a report on The Information, based only upon “four people who have been involved in or briefed about it.”
The move into a point-of-sale system is being interpreted as an attempt by Google to improve on their experience with Google Wallet, the in-house digital payment service that has not been as popular as the tech giant may have hoped.
Recent news that Apple Pay has just been adopted by the US Federal Government for payments by visitors at National Parks may have been the spark for the appearance of the Square-Google collaboration reports last week. The company faces an increasingly harder battle to win over merchant conversions the longer Apple Pay holds the spotlight.
The fight for the in-person digital payments market is strong, with PayPal, Circle, BitPay and LazyPay all competing to try and gain market share among both merchants and users for completing these transactions digitally.
Speaking to the founder of LazyPay, Danial Daychopan, we asked what problems they faced as they tried to win over merchants to the idea of accepting digital currency payments, and what advantages these digital currencies had to offer. Daychopan explained:
“The benefits to merchants are clear: cheaper transaction fees, zero chargebacks and funds wired faster to your bank account. The job we face now is to educate everyone about the advantages of Bitcoin.
I understand that all merchants, especially "the brick and mortar" businesses are not all going to be tech savvy, but they do know how to use a smart phone. So for merchants to sign up with LazyPay, we've made it so they simply have to download the app and sign up through a simple form.”
One massive incentive, therefore, for Google to make sure Bitcoin is a supported payment option in the new Plaso system would be to keep card-charge sensitive merchants happy. A large problem that's faced both the Apple Pay and Google Wallet merchant adoption so far is the fact it still attracts these 2.5-3.5% card surcharges from card companies due to the “card not present” status of the transaction.
Cryptocurrency compatibility, however, would allow Google and Square to approach the merchant sector with honest claims that they will be able to accept payments from customers with comparatively very low transaction fees through the Plaso platform.
The coming together of Google and Square on this project may be seen as a sign that Google is keen to get the hardware element of the new system right. Square has a reputation of making both easy-to-use, and visually slick terminals, and their work on the project will presumably now center around the use of Android tablets instead of iPads.
Contrasting LazyPay's own app based merchant service, Daychopan explained how important it is to get the interaction between merchant and their payment system right:
“Even though it's not difficult to partner with another company, we believe that it adds additional cost and friction in the service.
Merchants already have a lot of hardware piled up on their checkout. And the most important hardware, ‘their smartphone’ that they carry everywhere, and beyond that our point-of-sale terminal works just like any other till system these merchants are familiar with.”
The problem facing all of the companies working on this technology, however, are the restrictions currently placed on the available hardware. Alongside launching their own Apple Pay system with the release of the iPhone 6, Apple also chose to lock the NFC hardware in the phone for their payment system that is limited to use with a few trusted merchant partners.
Therefore, with NFC based payment platforms currently fenced out of the iOS market, it makes sense that the Google-Square collaboration is rumored to run on the latest Bluetooth iteration. This hardware base would allow it to be useful on both Android and iOS devices, regardless of Apple possibly “unlocking” their NFC phone hardware at a future point.
The upcoming Plaso system remains light on details, but the move of the tech giant further into point-of-sale systems and digital payment platforms looks set to increase interest in the most obvious cryptocurrency that could operate on it. The price spike we saw following the release of these rumors could continue its upward trajectory following the anticipated official nod from Google or Square.
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