'Cell Service'

Pinnacle exec speaks to the future of mobile payments, company's new offering

ARLINGTON, Texas -- For retailers concerned about jumping on board the fast-moving trend of mobile payments, Drew Mize believes there’s no time like the present.

Normally cautious operators may have to raise their risk tolerance, says the COO for Arlington, Texas-based The Pinnacle Corp., because the use of mobile applications, or “apps,” as well as the larger concept of mobile payments is a definite trend and not a fad.

“The longer retailers wait, it’s just another chance for their competitor to capture that segment or a portion of that segment of the market,” he says, agreeing that technologies are quickly evolving and creating confusion for retailers and consumers alike. “But while technologies themselves are maybe more [of a] fad because they’re changing rapidly—in six months the technology and payment infrastructure may be far different than they are right now—the concept without question is a trend.”

Speaking about a mobile payment solution and app that Pinnacle has available today, Mize said the technology is already in the field, deployed by the Waycross, Ga.-based Flash Foods chain. The new app is based on the foundation of Pinnacle’s “LoyalDebit” loyalty payment solution, in partnership with Coconut Creek, Fla.-based National Payment Card Association (NPCA). That processor handles the transaction, which involves an automated clearinghouse (ACH) fee that is considerably less than traditional interchange credit- and debit-card charges, Mize said.

Here are some additional features of the mobile-app product:

  • A “thin” application that requires no additional hardware or network infrastructure.
  • The remote deployment of a software upgrade for the POS.
  • A “tokenized” transaction processes with “zero cardholder data.”
  • The application can expand to include texting, delivery of coupons and ties to loyalty programs.
  • The program can be customized to the retailer, in terms of visual graphics but, more importantly, functionality. Other options include store locator capability and gas pricing.

“Every retailer has a different wish list,” Mize said. “For example, you may have a retailer who wants to do coupons but doesn’t have a true loyalty program. With either case, the offers would be structured differently.”

With regards to its other offers, Mize says Pinnacle has done a lot of work in increasing functionality and developing a tighter integration to other products and devices. Here’s a quick list of improvements:

  • New reports and dashboards for its business-intelligence product, “Enterprise Performance Management” (EPM).
  • New user interfaces within its pricebook and “Fuel Smart” applications.
  • New features for its backoffice and home-office applications.
  • New features for its point-of-sale (POS) product including a new payment-host interface and other features.

Overall, these upgrades come at an opportune time for retailers, he says, noting how the dip in the economy stemming back to 2008 slowed their technology spending. The result is many companies are due for a “refresh” with regards to their systems and automation.

“In that time, there’s been a fair amount of new technologies introduced to the market,” he says. “There’s new ways to deploy products that are more tightly integrated, that are more efficient to operate and offer much better return on investment than c-store systems of the past.”