August 7, 2012, 2:29 PM

GoPago offers smaller merchants a free checkout system based on tablets

But retailers have to sign a new merchant processing contract to get all the hardware.

Kevin Woodward

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Retailers receive an Android tablet and a card reader to use with the payment acceptance app.

Modern electronic checkout systems offer many benefits, but the cost has been an obstacle for small merchants. Such systems can track cash, check and electronic payment transactions as well as monitor product inventory levels, but they might cost $5,000 or more, out of reach for many small retailers.

Mobile wallet provider GoPago Inc. and banking giant JPMorgan Chase are betting small retailers looking for an inexpensive way to modernize will adopt a system they’ve introduced that lets a merchant check consumers out on a tablet computer and record transaction data electronically. Dubbed GoPago Live, the mobile commerce system, includes an Android tablet, credit card reader, cash drawer, receipt printer and tablet stand. It is provided at no cost as long as the retailer processes its payment card transactions through Chase Paymentech, the payment processing unit of JPMorgan Chase. GoPago is a mobile wallet company that Chase invested in earlier this year.

GoPago and Chase are targeting retailers with annual sales in the low six figures, says Leo Rocco, GoPago CEO and founder. In addition to GoPago’s own marketing efforts, Chase business bankers will promote the service in Chase branches, Rocco says.

Besides aggregating data about transactions electronically, the system also allows merchants to send offers to consumers. GoPago Live also takes aim at competing products from Square Inc. and scores of similar apps available for tablets.

A free wireless data connection is part of GoPago Live, too, via data plans from Verizon Wireless. GoPago buys the data plans and includes it at no cost to the retailer, Rocco says. That wireless connection, and the portability of the tablet, enables retailers to get out from behind their counters to go where customers are in their stores, Rocco says.

In exchange for the free payment equipment, retailers must sign a merchant processing agreement with Chase Paymentech. They pay 2.85% per credit and debit transaction, including American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover. Cash transactions are free.

Though retailers have to process their electronic payments via Chase Paymentech, there are none of the monthly statement fees or security fees that are often part of merchant processing contracts, says Rocco.

The GoPago Live app provides analytics about transactions, such as sales volume by time of day, gross sales and discounts used. The app enables retailers to send offers to consumers who have the GoPago smartphone app. Retailers control the timing and content of the special offers, Rocco says.

To use the app, retailers must load data about their products into the software. GoPago provides a spreadsheet for retailers to complete, which they can import into the app or send to GoPago to load into the app for a $100 fee, Rocco says.

GoPago configured the Android tablets so only the GoPago Live app functions, Rocco says. That ability, unavailable with Apple Inc.’s iOS mobile operating system, is one reason the company chose Android, Rocco says. Another reason is that GoPago can control the software update process, an action that requires no retailer approval, he says. GoPago also provides technical support for the service.

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