SoftPOS vs mPOS (Key Differences Explained)


Pebl Team
March 19, 2024

Point of Sale systems have dramatically evolved over time from traditional POS machines to small mobile POS devices and more recently to Software Point of Sale (or SoftPOS) mobile phone or tablet solutions.

The term SoftPOS refers to a software app that can transform any mobile device into a payment terminal without any additional hardware requirements.

While mobile POS has already made huge strides in streamlining payment transactions for businesses, SoftPOS goes even further in this regard, providing additional flexibility and convenience.

In this article we’ll walk you through the basics of SoftPOS and mobile POS systems and their key differences. We’ll also discuss their pros and cons, to help you decide which one is best for your business.

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What is softPOS (and how does it work)?

The term SoftPOS is an abbreviation for Software Point of Sale, and refers to a software application which can convert a mobile device into a standard POS terminal.

Merchants can leverage SoftPOS technology to process contactless payments from cards and digital wallets using a standard Android or iOS device, offering an increasingly convenient and flexible payment solution.

The procedure of accepting payments via a SoftPOS system is extremely straightforward, and requires only three steps:

  • Step1: Download a SoftPOS app onto your smartphone or tablet.
  • Step 2: Sign up for a plan with the app provider.
  • Step 3: Start accepting payments by using the phone’s inbuilt NFC capability or camera to scan QR codes.

With SoftPOS, payment processes are not only streamlined but also free from the restriction of additional hardware requirements, making it a popular choice for small businesses.

This convenience, coupled with the popularity of contactless payments and the familiarity most people have with smartphones, makes SoftPOS very user-friendly.

Comparison of SoftPOS vs Mobile POS

The main difference between mobile POS and SoftPOS is that mobile POS requires additional hardware (such as a card scanner) used with a mobile device, while SoftPOS can transform almost any mobile device into a POS terminal.

SoftPOS enables businesses to process contactless payments from cards and digital wallets quickly and conveniently, without little setup required.

Consequently, though SoftPOS has its merits for micro-merchants preferring basic POS solutions, mobile POS continues to hold its ground as a dominant choice for most bricks and mortar businesses.

What are the pros and cons of SoftPOS?

The main advantages of SoftPOS are ease of use and low cost and no extra hardware.

Since SoftPOS is able to turn pretty much any mobile device into a POS terminal simply by installing a SoftPOS app, it offers greater flexibility to merchants including  small retailers and service providers.

This convenience, coupled with the popularity of contactless  payments and the familiarity most people have with smartphones, makes SoftPOS very user-friendly.

And since you don’t need to purchase additional hardware, SoftPOS is also cheaper to set up than other POS solutions. Small retailers who might find purchasing or subscribing to a POS terminal expensive can now accept payments simply by downloading an app and registering.

On the other hand, there are several limitations to SoftPOS that currently stand in the way of its widespread adoption over traditional mobile POS solutions.

For businesses that require physical receipts for their transactions, SoftPOS falls short as this requires purchasing an external printer. 

Therefore, while SoftPOS is gaining popularity among many merchants seeking in-= person basic POS solutions, it currently has limitations that restrict it from becoming the dominant choice for larger enterprise businesses.

What are the pros and cons of Mobile POS?

Mobile POS provides many advantages over traditional POS systems. It relies on small hand-held hardware devices or dongles that can be purchased, and this compact design makes it handy for small business owners requiring on-the-go contactless card payment processing capabilities.

In addition to mobility, mobile POS is also very easy to set up, which is another advantage for startup businesses. This advance in technology enables businesses to streamline their services, increase efficiency, and improve customer experience.

However, despite these benefits, mobile POS also comes with weaknesses, including its reliance on wireless connectivity. Without a steady internet connection, the functionality of mobile POS systems can be severely impacted, leading to inefficiencies in transactions. 

Also, a mobile POS system is usually more expensive than a SoftPOS system, since it requires investment in specific hardware in addition to the software subscription.

Further limitations come in terms of security; while most mobile POS providers offer top-notch security measures to protect sensitive information, the fact that transactions are generally conducted through wireless networks may raise potential vulnerabilities.

Finally, should multiple teams of staff or volunteers be required, then extra hardware must be purchased and then bluetoothed individually.

Notwithstanding these cons, mobile POS remains a valid choice for many small business owners due to its mobility, ease of use, and affordability.