That model faces some pretty hefty risks, says Rick Oglesby, a partner at Double Diamond Payments Research.
Poynt has to be seen as a popular enough product for developers to devote resources to it. Without a vibrant app ecosystem, there's no way for Poynt to generate profit.
The other half of the equation is that merchants must be amenable to downloading apps. Poynt's bet is that technology buyers want the same type of experience at work that they have in their personal lives, and that apps are now the way we consume software.
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"It has huge potential because it's unique and a very smart and intelligent way to get distribution for terminals," said Oglesby. "But they could put millions out there and not make any money. If the software play doesn't take off, the business is out of luck."
ShopKeep is the type of developer Poynt needs on board. The New York-based start-up has built up relationships with 20,000 small and medium-sized businesses, such as bakeries, bars and food trucks.
ShopKeep sells a point-of-sale system on an iPad, building in functions like reporting and inventory management, and uses Ingenico's card-swiping hardware. The service costs $59 a month per register.
The only reason ShopKeep would build its service for the Poynt store would be if merchants are asking for it. Etie Hertz, ShopKeep's senior vice president of payments, says he's not yet seeing that demand.