Cash register maker NCR joins the pursuit of Square

Square’s list of big name competitors is officially getting another billion dollar company. NCR Corp. (s ncr), the Duluth, GA maker of cash registers and ATM machines, is now launching NCR Silver, a cloud-based point of sale product aimed at small businesses.
NCR doesn’t have any products that reach down into the mobile payment market currently but it has carved out a team of 150 employees to tackle this opportunity. It’s hoping it can rely on its history of handling secure payments, its experience in providing back-end support and its ability to help merchants grow into more products.
NCR Silver starts with a mobile card reader and an iPhone app(s aapl) that connects to an online dashboard, where users can track inventory,  profits and losses and run customer relationship management and email marketing. The system scales up with an iPad app, that comes with a stand and connects to an NCR wireless receipt printer and cash drawer. The full hardware package minus the iPad can be had for $619. Users will pay $79 a month to connect a mobile device and up to $29 a month each for additional devices. For the first 1,000 customers of NCR Silver, they’ll pay $39 a month for the life of the business.
Like VeriFone (s pay), Intuit (s intu), PayAnywhere and PayPal (s ebay), NCR sees an opportunity to use mobile devices to appeal to small business owner. And they’re all hoping they can rely on their existing expertise and assets to cut Square off as it goes after larger merchants. Despite its 128-year heritage, NCR isn’t a name that most small merchants have much familiarity with, so it will be a challenge to market the product to businesses that are getting hit up by a number of services.
But the company, which processes $2.4 trillion annually and did $5.6 billion of revenue last year, has a broad network of financial institutions and merchant services providers, who will be able to sell NCR Silver to business owners. And NCR also believes that it can win over merchants with things like live 24/7 customer service, something Square doesn’t currently havem and overnight hardware replacement. Combined with its suite of software services, NCR believes it can cut down on the complexity many merchants face in running their businesses.
“We see our sweet spot as people who want a cash register but they want to be mobile too, they want something integrated,” said Christian Nahas, vice president of NCR’s small and medium business team. “We aren’t just about payments or gathering data, it’s about impacting the lives of small business owners.”
NCR will likely compete more closely with Intuit, which recently combined its QuickBooks Point of Sale product with its GoPayment mobile payment service. That allowed the 200,000 customers who use QuickBooks POS hardware and software to add mobile payments. But the QuickBooks POS will start at $1,099 for a basic version of the software and $1,499 for the pro version.
Nahas said there are 4 million small business owners that can use NCR’s products. He’s hoping the company can grab 20 percent of that market. NCR, however, still lacks some pieces that many merchants might want. There’s not much in the way of bringing in new customers through offers or ads. And the service is only geared toward iOS for now.
But NCR Silver gives businesses another option to turn to and provides some features that appeal to many merchants like familiar cash registers, live customer support and end-to-end encryption of payments. This is just going to be make it harder for Square to move up market though as its COO Keith Rabois told me, there’s still a huge $22 billion opportunity in going after companies with less than 20 employees. We’ll see if it can support an increasingly crowded field of competitors.