Mobile point of sale shipments surge by 50% in 2013

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Merchants’ desire to conduct customer transactions on tablets and smartphones spurred a more than 50% boom in shipments of mobile point of sale (mPOS) hardware in 2013. But does the fact that more than 1 million of these devices were inactive last year, indicate issues in real market adoption?

Global shipments of mPOS hardware devices soared to 8.4 million units in 2013, up 53% from 5.5 million in 2012, according to IHS Technology. But despite the massive growth, only 7.1 million of these devices were active in 2013, meaning that 1.3 million mPOS systems went unused during the year.

A bar graph showing the Global forecast of shipments of mPOS hardware
Global forecast of shipments of mPOS hardware

“Retailers increasingly are embracing tablet and smartphone-based systems to check out customers, providing an alternative to the cash registers used by large- and medium-sized merchants, or the informal systems – such as cigar boxes – employed by the smallest businesses,” explains Wincey Tang, digital ID & IT security analyst at IHS. “The wide availability and low-cost advantages of mPOS card-reader accessories make them a feasible payment acceptance solution for any business owner.”

For mPOS dongles not being used on a regular basis or being completely inactive, these could be traced to a specific segment of users.

“While the inactivity and low usage may raise questions about the continued expansion of the mPOS market, the phenomenon appears to be concentrated among micro-merchants,” says Tang. “As larger enterprises start completing mPOS trials and move onto full rollouts in the coming years, this will drive larger sales volumes. Because of this, IHS predicts global mPOS device shipments will rise to nearly 88 million in 2018, more than 10 times the total in 2013.”

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