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Old-School Payments Company Unveils New-School Device That Accepts Apple Pay and More

The real winners in this checkout equipment battle may be Apple, Google and Samsung.

First Data
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

First Data has spent the last two years working to transform itself from an old-school payments processor into a company with the technology chops to compete with the startups coming out of Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley. Today, it’s unveiling a new product for brick-and-mortar stores that it thinks is another step in that direction.

The company, which hired big-name execs in 2013 from the C-suite of Wall Street to lead the makeover, is debuting a seven-inch tablet dubbed the Clover Mini that businesses can use to accept any type of payment method you can envision, from traditional credit cards, to the new chip-embedded cards that will become mainstream over the next year, to mobile payment methods such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and more.

The device also comes with a built-in receipt printer and a camera to scan QR codes and paper checks, and pits First Data against a host of young companies such as Square, Shopkeep and Poynt. All of these companies are pitching small and mid-sized businesses on upgrading their checkout equipment before October, when businesses could get stuck with fraud liability if they don’t accept the new chip payment cards that banks have been issuing to U.S. shoppers over the past year.

While young companies often get the press in tech circles, the feature list of this new device is superior to just about anything else on the market today. First Data also has the advantage of a sales force in the thousands pushing this out to market. The device’s capabilities can help future-proof a business at a time in which new payment methods are becoming more popular. On the other hand, it’s not clear if many of America’s small businesses need everything the Clover Mini has to offer.

Either way, the real winners in this checkout equipment battle may be Apple, Google and Samsung, which are going to be dependent on companies like First Data to help push businesses on Main Street to upgrade to equipment that can accept payments made by mobile phones.

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