What is a Mobile POS System? (3 Things To Know About mPOS)


Amanda Cooper
March 27, 2024

A mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) system is a sophisticated blend of software and portable hardware designed to process business sales. It empowers small business owners to transform pretty much any smartphone or tablet into a checkout point, thereby breaking free from the confines of a traditional POS system.

At the heart of an mPOS setup are tasks such as processing mobile payments, calculating sales totals, tracking inventory status, and collecting other data points crucial to modern businesses. It thus serves as an all-around solution for managing transactions, offering substantial advantages over its traditional counterparts.

One key benefit of using an mPOS system is its flexibility and mobility. No longer bound by the limitations of physical checkout counters, you can bill customers anywhere - be it within your store premises, at bustling events or even while travelling.

This adaptability promotes a more interactive and customer-friendly shopping experience that can help differentiate your brand in today's marketplace.

Another compelling advantage of mPOS is its ease of setup. Unlike conventional POS solutions which require several components (ranging from mini desktop computers to scanner devices and printers), setting up mPOS requires just one primary mobile device working in sync with compatible software.

Now let’s dive into the details and take a closer look at how a mobile POS system works, and what it can do for your business. 

Interested in what we’re saying?


What is a mobile point of sale system?

A mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) system consists of a portable hardware device (such as a smartphone or tablet) combined with mobile POS software that work together to process sales transactions.

This technology enables mobile devices to serve as checkout points that can be used anywhere with an internet connection. 

A mobile POS system can handle a wide range of functions, including facilitating contactless payments, tallying sales figures, monitoring inventory levels, and tracking other business data. 

These functionalities not only simplify payment processing, but also offer a wide range of additional benefits to the modern retail sector.

No longer bound by the limitations of physical checkout counters, you can bill customers anywhere - be it within your store premises, at bustling events or even while travelling.

How does an mPOS system work?

Most smartphones or tablets can be transformed into a mobile point-of-sale terminal easily and quickly. Upon partnering with an mPOS service provider, the business will need to install their  app on their device.

For some older mobile POS softwares, it is necessary to connect a hardware card reader to the device via its USB-C or lightning port, which enables the processing of NFC (Near Field Communication) or chip payments.

Some of these dedicated readers come with additional features like barcode scanners and receipt printers, and sometimes these systems can be paired with Bluetooth receipt printers. The previously common practice of using card readers that connect through the audio jack has gradually become obsolete. 

More recently, however, mPOS apps are designed to leverage the built-in NFC reader in smartphones without requiring any external hardware - a feature called Tap to Pay, whereby customers can tap their card or contactless device on the merchant's Apple or Android smartphone or NFC enabled tablet.

Typically, mPOS apps serve as payment processors for credit and debit card transactions. No customer information or payment details are stored directly on the mobile device, which enhances security measures over traditional methods.

After payments are processed, the funds can be transferred into a business bank account, and some systems even offer seamless integration with other POS systems within businesses, thus forming an integrated payment system solution.

What are the advantages of a mobile POS system for small businesses?

One of the fundamental benefits of mPOS is its mobility. Unlike conventional POS systems that are typically secured at a counter or checkout area, an mPOS can readily move to wherever the customer is located. This enhanced flexibility significantly improves customer experience by reducing wait times and offering a more personalized service.

The mobile nature of mPOS also makes it an ideal choice for businesses that don’t have a permanent location like food trucks or vendors at fairs or markets. Even home repair services and cleaning firms benefit from being able to process transactions instantly on site without needing extensive infrastructure.

Another significant advantage is that mPOS devices can accommodate multiple payment methods such as contactless credit or debit cards,, mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and QR code payments.

Some specialized mPOS providers have catered directly to the food and beverage industry by creating features designed for restaurant use - from enabling orders to be sent directly from servers to kitchens or letting customers enter their own orders at the table.

Apart from improving customer experiences through reduced wait times and versatile payment options, mPOS systems also come with lower investment requirements for small businesses. Significantly cheaper than full-size POS terminals, mPOS allows companies with limited startup capital to quickly start approving card transactions.

Finally, one of the overlooked benefits of mobile POS solutions is their enhanced security, since they handle entire transactions within themselves leaving no additional data stored anywhere else.

What components do you need for a mobile POS system for your business?

For the latest generations of mPOS software, all you need is a tablet or smartphone with the app installed on it. 

Most mobile POS apps are compatible with any Android or iOS tablet or smartphone, so all you need to do is download the app from Google Play or the Apple’s App Store. 

However, some providers require you to have additional POS hardware, such as a mobile card reader, barcode scanner, or printer. 

For the apps that don't require any additional hardware, you can use a mobile POS with your phone’s or tablet’s camera to scan barcodes at checkout. Needless to say, this POS option is not only the cheapest, but also the easiest to get started with. 

If you’re not sure what the best mPOS for your business is, we’ve put together a guide on how to choose the best mobile POS system.