Is this the future of streamlined mobile payments?

Summary:Two big differentiators for Flint Mobile: its no-extra-hardware approach to reading cards and a per-transaction fee structure that doesn't penalize low-volume users.

There are a vast array of mobile payment technology platforms – from Square to PayPal -- vying for business from small companies. What Flint Mobile has going for it is simplicity : its Apple iOS app doesn't require a dongle or card reader. Instead, it works using either a photo of the card or just the number typed in manually.

That approach might seem risky, but Sonoma Forge – a plumbing fixture and sink design company from Petaluma, Calif., that counts PF Chang's and MGM Grand as its customers -- picked the technology because it was easy to use, on the spot, and because of its straightforward fee structure.

"We are a small business but tend to have very high credit-card transactions and companies tend to require a lot of things to set up with high limits," said Chris Rosano, vice president of Sonoma Forge.

To use Flint Mobile's application, a person takes a scan of the card using the phone on an Apple iPhone or Android smartphone. Transactions are encrypted and protected according to PCI DSS guidelines, and none of the information is ultimately stored on the phone. The fee structure is pretty simple: 1.95 percent per debit card transactions (Visa or MasterCard) and 2.95 per credit-card transaction (Visa or MasterCard.) There aren't any monthly subscription costs.

When I asked Rosano about his security concerns, he responded: "I could see where there might be a chance of fraud, but we have a high level of trust in our customers."

The mobile payment platform helps Sonoma Forge close deals more quickly, in brick-and-mortar showrooms. For those that don't want to pay on the spot, the app supports the creation of custom invoices that can be emailed to customers; they get a link to the Flint Mobile Web portal, where they can pay them online.

Another plus for smaller companies: the technology integrates with QuickBooks Online, synchronizing transactions from a Flint account on an hourly basis.

Flint Mobile's last funding round was in December 2013, when it raised $2 million in Series B from Verizon Investments – bringing its estimated total so far to approximately $11 million.


Topics: SMBs, Mobility, Innovation


Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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