iPads and iPhone payment systems seem well-positioned to replace the old, outdated and often clunky software and hardware currently in use by a lot of customer-facing businesses, and San Francisco-based Revel is a player at the forefront of that movement. Earlier this week, Revel, which launched in 2010, announced a partnership with Best Buy subsidiary Geek Squad to have the retail giant’s roving service wing act as its mobile installation and setup team, and today Revel is announcing a partnership with LevelUp, which will allow its iPad-based point-of-sale (POS) systems to accept LevelUp’s QR-based mobile payments.
LevelUp, a mobile payments solution from the team at location-based gaming and discovery tool SCVNGR, combines mobile device payments via a uniquely-assigned QR code with a built-in rewards platform. It becomes Revel’s fifth form of accepted payment, alongside Visa, Mastercard, American Express and cash. The integration is just the beginning, according to Revel co-founder Christopher Ciabarra, and is illustrative of what the company hopes to achieve via its API.
“They have a really broad distribution already; they become our sales force, and every time they introduce themselves they introduce us as well, and we do the same for them,” Ciabarra said about why the partnership made sense to begin with. “It’s about making partnerships and getting the product out there.” Revel makes this easy, Ciabarra said, thanks to its open API, which allows each partner to focus on what they’re good at, rather than each having to extend themselves into unfamiliar territory.
That’s also why Ciabarra thinks Revel can stay ahead of larger players like PayPal, whose recently debuted mobile payments solution includes the beginnings of a mobile POS system. “You talk about payment companies, and they always come at it from the payment perspective, just like Square did [with Register], and they don’t quite get it yet,”he said. “Maybe in the future, they might change the way the’re looking at it, but for right now, they’re approaching it as a payments company, and not realizing that offerung a POS system is more about delivering a service.”
Add to that the fact that Ciabarra thinks Square targets a different market (Revel is going after customers who see $500,000 or more in revenue every year, Square is aimed at a lower-volume market), and he believes Revel is in a good place relative to potential competitors. Plus, Ciabarra says Revel is even open to partnering with Square as a payment method down the road, should that become an option.
The Geek Squad partnership should also help Revel arm itself for the battle with other pure play mobile POS providers like Toronto-based Touch Bistro, since it effectively gives Revel a mobile troubleshooting and installation team. Revel has arranged to subsidize the cost of Geek Squad installations for its customers, and its also getting a bit of a price break itself from Best Buy for use of the services. But in exchange for that, it’ll be able to scale much quicker, something Ciabarra said there was an obvious need for after the company set up its first 100 or so customers on its own.
In terms of using the iPad as a way to transform the POS industry, Revel is really lining up its ducks; an open API and strategic partnerships like the one with LevelUp should help it remain broadly focused and highly customizable for a variety of businesses, and partnerships with in-person service providers like Geek Squad will help convince potential customers they won’t be left to their own devices for setup and installation. Bigger players could still make more aggressive moves in the space, but for now that isn’t happening, and the market is large enough to support quite a few different category leaders as well.