The UK card payments industry is facing potential claims for contravention of existing UK technology patents held by a private entrepreneur. The patents were granted nearly ten years ago and cover EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) systems which facilitate card payment transactions when used in conjunction with a computer screen/POS terminal.
The patents cover the entire technology, architecture and operating system and are not limited to any particular device or method of transaction, this would in principle enable the levy of a licensing fee by the patent holder on millions of transactions.
“Together, these patents create the opportunity to take a licensing fee from a vast range of technologies and exert control over the market as the scope of functionality is so wide. It would be great to see a large company take this on and whoever owns this intellectual property has the power to change the future of EPOS in the UK as well as pursue millions of pounds in licensing fees and penalties for infringement “says Mr Barnett.
UK retailers are rapidly introducing integrated mobile payment and EPOS devices into the UK market, driven by the need to speed up the process of ordering and making payment demanded by time-pressed customers. There is also the opportunity offered by these new systems for retailers to build loyalty and increase sales by capturing data, interacting with online stores via smartphones and engaging with social media.
In 2010, British entrepreneur Philip Barnett patented an EPOS system with card payment:
“I envisaged consumers paying for purchases by card via a screen and card terminal, which could also relay payments, orders and commissions, anywhere at anytime. The patent covers the functionality of the system, therefore it is not tied down to one device or system set-up” adds Mr Barnett.
UK patent GB2461130 covers EPOS and card payment and GB2449059 covers valuable functionality such as proximity marketing – the scanning for smartphones and pushing messages and e-vouchers for example, to drive sales, increase footfall and facilitate upselling and cross selling for retailers.
The latest payments industry figures (UK Finance, June 2018) show that £268m transactions were made in the UK in June 2018 alone. The vast majority of consumer purchases will have been made using a screen and terminal EPOS system. In total, £38.8 billion payments were made in the UK in 2017. The majority of payments were made by consumers, accounting for nine out of ten of all payments. Nearly 85% of payments made by consumers were for spontaneous purchases, with the other 15% of payments for regular bills and commitments.