Downloadable card-acceptance applications for such handheld mobile devices as Apple Inc.'s iPhone are unlikely to take business away from point-of-sale equipment manufacturers that sell wireless-enabled point-of-sale terminals, observers generally agree.

Conversely, the applications may "wind up expanding the card-acceptance base rather than pirating the traditional merchant space" because they may entice some small merchants to accept card payments in addition to cash and checks, says Chris Justice, president of North America at France-based Ingenico S.A. "It's not a cannibalization of existing products," he says.

The emergence of technologies such as card-acceptance applications likely will bolster sales of traditional wireless POS equipment, agrees Tim McWeeney, vice president of North American sales at Way Systems Inc., a Woburn, Mass.-based mobile-terminal maker. "I believe long-term equipment sales will rise because of mobile apps" because merchants eventually will require additional terminal features, such as PIN-debit capabilities, for their mobile businesses, he says.

Additionally, card-acceptance applications are not a competitive concern for terminal makers because none of the consumer mobile devices are designed to meet Payment Card Industry data-security standards, notes Stuart Taylor, vice president of global solutions and marketing at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Hypercom Corp.

"While there is a market for non-PIN/credit-only transactions or card-not-present transactions for those merchants that want to use their existing [personal digital assistant] or smartphone for credit card payments, the mainstream market continues to be build-for-purpose PCI-PED/EMV certified mobile point-of-sale terminals that adhere to the strict PCI requirements for payment-transaction security," he says.

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