San Francisco start-up Flint Mobile is launching a hassle-free mobile payments app for the Apple iOS platform after testing the software in an invite-only beta. The company hopes to differentiate its offering based on two simple things -- it doesn't require a separate piece of card-reader hardware to accept credit cards, using a phone's scanning and imaging capabilities to capture card information instead; and it doesn't require the small business or retailer to have a pre-existing merchant account. If someone is uncomfortable with the imaging option, you can enter the numbers manually.
The hardware twist may be a bigger deal than many people realize - since small businesses won't have to deal with any incompatibility if they start on on an earlier iPhone platform and then update later to iPhone 5 (which has a different jack configuration).
The software also includes integrated social marketing features, which lets customers submit reviews or recommendations or to post comments on your company's Facebook business page.
"I have tried many other mobile payments apps, but between getting rid of the dongle and making it very easy to customize messaging to my customers right from the phone, Flint has become my preferred debit/credit card processing solution," said Aaron Potratz, a licensed professional counselor in Beaverton, Ore., who has been an early user of the software.
The fees associated with using the app are 1.95 percent plus 20 cents per transaction for debit cards and 2.95 percent plus 20 cents per transaction for credict cards, Flint said. Your account winds up being with Flint; the company said setup takes a matter of minutes.
The demonstration video illustrates how the Flint mobile payment process works: