With rivals like PayPal Inc. and Square Inc. having made moves recently to enhance their point-of-sale payments offerings, Intuit Inc. on Tuesday confirmed it had bought AisleBuyer LLC, a 3-year-old startup whose technology lets consumers check themselves out of stores with their handsets.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but some press reports placed the purchase price at $80 million to $100 million, which could be an indication of how intense competition is becoming for handset-based point-of-sale activity. Mountain View, Calif.-based Intuit, however, said it is not disclosing the price because the deal’s terms are not “material” to its business.
Intuit, which since 2009 has been marketing a card-swipe dongle for mobile devices as part of a service called GoPayment, said in a statement that it bought AisleBuyer because the Boston-based company will “provide the technology platform that aids the transition of our existing Point of Sale solutions and GoPayment, our mobile payment processing solution, to the cloud. Their technology will also assist in opening up this mobile POS ecosystem to our own as well as third-party developers.”
Intuit refuses to comment beyond this statement and a short post on its GoPayment blog announcing the acquisition. AisleBuyer did not return calls asking for comment.
With AisleBuyer, a user can scan merchandise in a store, receive promotional offers, and pay for the item while standing in the aisle using card credential stored in a digital wallet. The user then shows a receipt displayed on his phone screen as he heads out the door. Users who can’t find what they’re looking for in the store can use the same wallet to order from the merchant’s Web site and arrange for home delivery. To ease data entry, AisleBuyer also lets users capture card information using their phones’ camera.
Last spring, the startup had deployed its system to a four-unit toy-store chain in Boston called Magic Beans. While it’s not clear how many other stores have installed the system, AisleBuyer 11 months ago had signed agreements with unnamed retail companies accounting for 19,000 locations, with two chains accounting for the bulk of those stores, Andrew Paradise, the company’s founder and chief executive, told Digital Transactions News at the time.
Intuit’s decision to pick up AisleBuyer comes as major competitors are moving to beef up their point-of-sale offerings with related services for both consumers and merchants. PayPal, for example, in recent weeks introduced its own mobile-acceptance app and revamped its digital wallet to include a raft of new features for users. It, too, has been promoting a cloud-based approach to mobile payments, rather than push for card credentials to be stored on the device. Relying on a similar cloud approach, Square last year introduced a service that lets users open a tab with participating merchants and then make purchases merely by giving their names to a cashier.
Such moves indicate payments players are seeking ways to enhance their offerings in ways that go beyond simply payment processing. “Going forward, the value these guys have to compete on is what else do you guys do for me besides take cards,” George Peabody, director of the emerging technologies advisory service at Mercator Advisory Group, Maynard, Mass., tells Digital Transactions News.
Intuit will now be able to market AisleBuyer’s technology to its own merchant base, which consists of clients of its in-house independent sales organization, of its QuickBooks accounting software, and of its GoPayment service. In this way, the deal “plays to Intuit’s strengths,” says Peabody.”Now they can lock their merchants into something more than card payments.”