In a bid to further integrate cloud-based platforms with its more conventional offerings, Intuit said yesterday that it plans to combine QuickBooks Point of Sale, its offering for retailers, with its three-year-old mobile-only GoPayment platform.
If you're unfamiliar with GoPayment, it's a service that allows small- and medium-sized vendors to process debit or credit cards using an Apple iPhone -- no proprietary point-of-sale hardware necessary. The app and hardware is free, and Intuit makes its money from transactions (2.7 percent per swipe) or a monthly membership fee ($12.95/mo.) of sorts.
It's the kind of thing that really makes sense if you run a food truck, hair salon, dentist, events business or any kind of setup where an office isn't always part of the equation (or a traditional POS system too complex). GoPayment directly competes with Square, a startup created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
In recent years, Intuit has shown a penchant for acquiring companies it believes will take it into a cloud-based future -- Mint.com, anyone? -- as well as a focus on integrating them fairly seamlessly with the company's existing products. (Which is why Mint will upsell you on TurboTax, and vice-versa.)
That trend continues here. Now the GoPayment and QuickBooks POS platforms will share inventory and data between them, making it easier for vendors who want the mobile solution but don't want to give up their existing desktop-based setup around QuickBooks. GoPayment access will simply be added to the QuickBooks POS license -- no additional cost necessary.
When Intuit purchased Demandforce, the company's GM of SMBs Kiran Patel told us that the company continues to seek ways to bridge the gap between its old platforms and where its newer customers prefer to be. The unification of GoPayment and QuickBooks is another part of that.
The question is just how this will impact Square. Intuit is solving its own problems, sure, but by selling to its existing customer base, it's showing that it can get adoption without the buzz that Square has enjoyed. (In February, it counted some 40,000 vendors; in contrast, Intuit counts hundreds of thousands for QuickBooks POS.)
As you can see by the list of players above, mobile payments is really a platform play -- one node in a growing network of products intended to keep customer data under one corporate roof while giving them enough tools to solve their problems: tracking and monitoring capabilities, employee access permissions settings, automatic calculations, flexibility. After all, you won't desire to feel the edges of a walled garden if you're happy being there in the first place.
It should be interesting to see if Intuit can get its existing QuickBooks POS customers to adopt GoPayment. The company says it's interested, but it's still early -- when they find the confidence to actually reveal how many GoPayment customers they have, you'll know it's working.