Mobile payment app eliminates card reader

Mobile payment app eliminates card reader

Summary: The Flint application for iPhone uses the smartphone's built-in camera and imaging features to make it easier for small merchants to accept credit cards.

TOPICS: SMBs, Mobility

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:


Topics: SMBs, Mobility

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  • How is this secure??

    Somebody can easily make a FAKE credit card and getting the zip-code of a person is easy.

    Although this may look convenient, it is a scammer's dreams. It makes it really easy to steal credit cards ....

    Think about it. Criminals just need to grab the credit card number when officially shipped without opening the envelope (ie: using just light) and the zip-code is conveniently available on the front. Then they can make a fake card ... and that is it. They now have full access to your credit.
    • Flint certainly takes security and data privacy seriously

      The scenario you describe ( stealing cards by intercepting them while they are being shipped to consumers ) is outside the scope of the Flint Application. Also, in addition to the card number, Flint requires other card verification details.

      The reality is in fact that applications like Flint are more transparent and better protect consumers as compared to many other commerce modes - including handing your card to a waiter at a restaurant. Flint certainly takes security and data privacy seriously and has built best practice provisions into their platform. No images or card information is stored on the phone.
      EpaymentsNut Ashok
      • You're missing the point, I think

        with this you don't need the card at all, just a copy of it. The reality is in fact is that this isn't any more secure and hardly what I would say is easy or convenient, just watching that demo. I could process 3 or 4 transactions with a regular card reader in the time the person could do it with this thing. So its safe to say this ting wasn't designed with speed or ease of use in mind.

        Plus there are alot of other factors to take into account: what if the lighting's not that great? Does it need a flat surface to hold the card on and if you can't get a steady picture, what then?

        It's a cute idea, and not really designed for a regular business which would probably have an actual merchant account, register with reader, and so on. This looks to be geared towards the craft show or bake sale user then a typical business, but I would still want to have that dongle for ease of use.
        NoMore MicrosoftEver
        • scanning under poor lighting, etc

          From what I’ve seen and read Flint is designed to make things easier for highly mobile users who don’t have a typical countertop / store POS setup. For many of those types of users (i.e. photographers, consultants, fitness trainers, IT pros) it’s likely to be simpler and faster than having to pull the dongle out of your bag/ pocket, plug it in, and swipe. Not to mention, I’ve seen plenty of times when swiping through the dongle doesn’t work reliably and have heard people complaining about losing them. One of the good things about Flint, is that all you need is your phone.

          From what I’ve seen the scanning works pretty well. It works in relative dim light across different card designe and does not need a flat surface in order to capture the transaction. You can hold the card in your hand. Like with other mobile payment options, the card number can be also be keyed in manually as a backup mode.
          EpaymentsNut Ashok
    • How about a photo of the card?

      I wonder if it can distinguish between an actual card, and a photo of the actual card? You could lift a card without the owner never knowing about it just by photographing it. Here he is walking around with it in his wallet, and so is the thief.

      How would the owner be able to dispute the charges if the software records that the card was actually present? With the dongle type, the software records the difference between manual entry and swipe, so easy to dispute if the charge was done via keypad and not the card, and you cant swipe the photo through the reader.
      NoMore MicrosoftEver
      • Transaction from a card copy, swiped vrs keyed transactions

        Note that whereas it may be possible to capture the image from a copy of a card, a transaction cannot be completed successfully as additional authentication information is required in order to complete the transaction. Also attempts at such activity will trigger fraud controls that address suspicious activity.

        You bring up some nuances around swiped and keyed transactions. A detailed explanation on this forum might not be a prudent thing to do. Suffice it to mention that consumers should be aware that they are protected by the brands and their issuing bank against fraudulent charges. The brand operating regulations cover how the integrity of the system is maintained and how merchants and cardholders are protected. Consumers need to contact their bank in order to initiate the repudiation process. Charges are typically reversed when the process is initiated.
        EpaymentsNut Ashok