VeriFone Willing to Shell Out $1 Billion Annually to Grow Payments Network

As the largest maker of cash registers and other payment processing devices, VeriFone is willing to spend up to $1 billion a year on acquisitions to stay on top, by expanding into emerging countries and entering new markets, such as mobile payments.

VeriFone CEO Douglas Bergeron told Bloomberg that his company anticipates acquiring one company a year at roughly $500 million to $700 million, along with several smaller transactions. In all, its purchases could add up to as much as $1 billion annually.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company is eyeing emerging markets. such as Turkey and Brazil, and is seeing investment opportunities by teaming up with Google and other players. Google Wallet enables Android phone users to link their bank accounts to their phones and use them to pay for items in a store, using near field communications.

The move to mobile payments may still be in its infancy, but as a major maker of credit card terminals, VeriFone must consider new entrants — such as Google –very disruptive. Earlier today, I wrote about how Apple products are becoming fairly mainstream at retail locations, and may increasingly reduce the need for registers.

In March, VeriFone lashed out against Square, the San Francisco start-up that has been getting a lot of press for offering a mobile-phone-based payments solution to small merchants. VeriFone claimed that the devices Square was handing out to anyone looking to accept credit card payments were not secure, but many considered the attack a sign of VeriFone’s insecurity in the market.

Since then, Square has started adding an additional level of encryption, and VeriFone has unveiled its own copycat product, which will allow retailers to use an iPad or Android tablet for in-store checkout. It also has other handheld devices for sale, along with iPhone-based swiping solutions.

VeriFone did not provide any hints as to what it may be interested in acquiring. However, Bloomberg suggested that VeriFone could be looking into adding distribution in Asia through an acquisition of a major terminal maker. Likewise, it could also be interested in a payment processor in countries where credit card penetration remains low but is growing. A payment processor would get VeriFone closer to merchants in those markets, and could enable it to offer additional services, such as coupons, daily deals and other loyalty programs.

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