Square Co-Founder: Pinpointing Shoppers’ In-Store Locations Will Transform Retail, Payments (Feb. 25, 2015)
Mobile payments technology is driving multiple types of innovations, but one of the most transformative likely will be location-based technologies that improve the shopping experience, according to Square’s co-founder Jim McKelvey. New technologies will emerge within the year to precisely detect where a smartphone user is inside a store, transforming the way people shop and pay, McKelvey said during a keynote speech kicking off the All Payments Expo in Las Vegas this week.
“We will soon see a profound change in location-based technology . . . that will change the retail ecosystem,” he said. Among technologies in development that can pinpoint a smartphone user’s location within a store are cellular GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth low energy and beacons, NFC, audio, LED light-pulses and micro-electrical mechanical systems combining a compass with a camera. “There’s a battle going on between purveyors of these different technologies to solve the puzzle,” McKelvey said, noting it’s hard to tell now which one will prevail. The result will be systems that break down barriers and change the definitions of payments and shopping, blurring lines and unlocking new marketing and loyalty opportunities in the retail and payments ecosystems, he believes. “When we have location-based technology down, we’ll start to see innovations around how to monetize that, with coupons, promotions and richer streams of data enabling users to share information. And, from that, we’re going to see major developments, and quite soon.”
For Square, which saw explosive growth in its early years after introducing its m-POS service, the next wave of development lies in innovations to help merchants do business more efficiently, McKelvey tells Paybefore. Location-based technologies, the rise of mobile payments and the drive to make payments more secure are all converging to create new opportunities for m-POS players, he adds. There’s a lot of competition in the m-POS space, McKelvey acknowledges, but there is “tremendous growth” right now as the U.S. upgrades POS systems for mobile and EMV. “The growth part of our business is in providing better tools to help merchants run their businesses.”