Cash Registers May Get a Groupon Button

(This story was corrected to remove reference in third paragraph to cash registers by Groupon COO.)

Bloomberg — Groupon, the largest provider of online daily deals, is talking with cash-register makers about adding features that would make it easier for merchants and consumers to use its coupons, President Rob Solomon said.

VeriFone Systems, the second-largest manufacturer of electronic-payment systems, is among companies in discussion with Groupon, a person with knowledge of the matter said. VeriFone would let merchants accept Groupons as easily as debit or credit cards from payments networks such as Visa, said the person, who declined to be identified because the plans were private.

Groupon plans to test various approaches, Solomon told Bloomberg, without giving a timeline. Some systems, such as cash registers, may feature Groupon buttons and will let merchants account more efficiently for Groupon transactions and returns, the person familiar said. Easing that process could help the company get more entrenched with small businesses, some of which have had trouble handling an influx of business from Groupon. "We are in an evaluation mode," Solomon said. "Test and learn is the best way to do this."

Lindsay Durfee, a spokeswoman for San Jose, California-based VeriFone, declined to say whether the company is in talks with Groupon.

Groupon has more than 60 million subscribers worldwide. The Chicago-based company is facing increased competition from some 200 other daily-deal sites. LivingSocial, its biggest rival, received a $183 million investment led by Amazon in December.

The sites compete to lure retailers large and small, such as nail salons, cruise lines and yoga studios. Groupon typically takes a 50% cut of each deal advertised and sold.

The U.S. daily-deals market will grow to $3.93 billion in 2015, from $873 million last year, according to a projection from BIA/Kelsey. Under the most favorable conditions, sales could reach as much as $6.1 billion, the Chantilly, Virginia-based consulting firm said.

Making transactions easier for retailers may also help Groupon rev up sales through its Groupon Stores service, which lets merchants create and send out deals to Groupon users.

Groupon has been talking to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley about an initial public offering, people familiar with those discussions said in January. The company rejected a $6 billion takeover offer from Google in December.

Groupon needs to show double-digit quarter-over-quarter sales growth to pull off a successful IPO, said Tom Taulli, an independent technology analyst. Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mason said in January that proceeding with a 2011 public offering "is less than 100 percent" sure.

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