Mobile POS wars: Adyen’s Shuttle could be headache for iZettle and Payleven

Oh look, it’s another Square-esque mobile point-of-sale payments system. Based on that fact alone, you may reasonably yawn – but Shuttle, from Adyen, is different.

It’s not different merely on the basis of functionality – although it communicates with the merchant’s iOS or Android device via Bluetooth, rather than by being plugged into it – but mainly because of the company behind it. Netherlands-based Adyen is already an entrenched online and mobile payments provider for multinationals such as KLM, Vodafone and Groupon.

European competitors such as iZettle and Payleven are going after small businesses and sole traders who would otherwise be unable to handle physical card payments. So is Adyen, but Shuttle is mostly aimed at bigger players.

And that means looking at the business from a different angle. Adyen, which already provides those familiar gray VeriFone point-of-sale devices, is pitching Shuttle as a way of bridging the online and real-world sales environments from a reporting perspective. For example, a customer may have used his or her card on the merchant’s website, giving the merchant useful background when the same card gets used in-store.

“Within our offering, it’s a true multichannel offering,” Adyen chief commercial officer Roelant Prins told me. “The companies that are looking to use this already use us for e-commerce. They already know the way we provide reporting, our back office and everything.”

Adyen is keen to push the cost-effectiveness of Shuttle as a POS tool – the device costs €99 ($129) and the service €10 a month, while traditional point-of-sale terminals cost many hundreds. But Prins also had an interesting point to make about the mobility aspect of the service:

“Look at the luxury merchant in Holland who is focused on getting rid of the till and taking a mobile approach. If you buy a €500 purse, you don’t want to queue up to make a payment.”

Adyen has apps and an API for Shuttle, and will also be white-labeling the EMV-compliant service for anyone who wants to resell it. This is partly a function of the fact that Adyen processes payments end-to-end – it does not have to rely on banking partners to do this.

So, what does this mean for the emerging mobile payments sector?

Square can breathe easy for now as, while Adyen operates globally, the Shuttle rollout is Europe-only – for now. But within Europe, things are about to get interesting.

Until now, it had looked like iZettle was shaping up to be the winner – the company has been scoring crucial partnerships with banks and telcos alike.

However, iZettle remains hampered by the fact that it cannot provide a full chip-and-PIN service for customers with Visa cards: a dispute with Visa led instead to a somewhat less-slick workaround. Shuttle is full chip-and-PIN for all cards, and Adyen’s existing customer base means it can hit the ground running.

This is a new market, and it may well prove to not be a matter of the winner taking all. But it’s just received a pretty big shakeup.