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​Australian POS startup Kounta launches in the US

Australian e-commerce startup Kounta is making its move into the North American business software market, with the launch of its point-of-sale platform in the United States.

Australian cloud point-of-sale (POS) platform provider Kounta has launched in the United States, with the company aiming to plug what it calls a "huge gap" in the North American business software market.

The Sydney-headquartered startup, which provides a cloud-based POS platform that can run on any web-enabled device, announced its US launch on Thursday, saying that it is aiming to challenge transaction and enterprise services incumbents such as Micros and NCR, along with newer startups like Square and Revel POS.

This is likely to be no small challenge, with NCR claiming that nearly 550 million transactions pass through its platform every day, and reporting $1.77 billion revenue in its fourth-quarter results.

For its part, Micros -- which was acquired by Oracle in June last year for $5.3 billion -- claims more than 6,600 employees, with its software, hardware, and cloud solutions in use across more than 330,000 customer sites in 180 countries.

However, Kounta North America president Jason Seed believes that the US market is now ripe for the company's local launch.

"We're entering a busy market, but one that's ripe for disruption," said Seed, who is heading up the company's first North American office in Silicon Valley. "On the one hand, you have companies like Square and Groupon that have entered the POS market and done quite well.

"However, they have ulterior motives to get you on to a specific payment provider or service, which they obviously earn money from. They are far from being open, and this lock-in is dangerous for small business owners," he said.

By contrast, said Seed, Kounta has built as an open platform that integrates with other systems, allowing small business owners to choose the payments provider, accounting software, or ordering applications that best suit them.

He said that the platform, which runs on Windows, as well as iOS, Android, and OS X, could be a compelling alternative for businesses still running POS machines on Windows XP, which Microsoft ended support for in April last year.

"There are 1.5 million POS machines running Windows XP in America. They're vulnerable, slow, and inefficient. We're a true competitor to the legacy systems, and we're here to shake this market up," he said.

Kounta's US move comes as Australian near-field communication (NFC) technology startup Tapit makes a run at the US market, opening its first international office in New York late last year.

Likewise, Australian online email marketing startup Campaign Monitor is reportedly planning to open its first US office after receiving $250 million in venture capital funding from US venture capital firm Insight Venture Partners in April last year.