SMB mobile payment options add up

VeriFone and MasterCard are targeting small businesses with new mobile payment technologies, but there are plenty of start-ups bringing innovation to these solutions.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Mobile payments darling Square faces increased competition this week from several big-name and emerging players, including giants VeriFone and MasterCard.


VeriFone's SAI app is available immediately for the iPhone; an Android version is slated for late May.

VeriFone Systems has unfurled a solution called SAIL by VeriFone, its gambit into the the mobile payments fray. The company is touting the fact that its platform is "open," that is, compatible with various smartphone and tablet devices as well as traditional payment acceptance technologies. SAIL can be integrated with EMV smartcard, NFC contactless and other mobile payment standards, VeriFone said.

The service works with a credit card reader that attaches to your Apple iPhone or Android smartphone; you download a free mobile app to interact with the service. The iPhone edition is available immediately; the Android version is due in late May 2012.

The application also integrated with social networking channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Yelp, which could help small retailers and merchants with customer relationship management (CRM).

SAIL by VeriFone currently offers two pricing options. If your small businesses doesn't accept that many transactions, you can opt for a plan that charge 2.7 percent fee for swiped transactions; otherwise, you can pay $9.95 per month for the service if you commit to a certain transaction level, plus 1.95 percent per transaction.

"VeriFone has created a unique open ecosystem that builds on our payment-as-a-service vision to foster innovation in the developer and payments communities and maximize choice for small to medium-sized businesses," said VeriFone CEO Douglas Bergeron, in a statement about the new solution.

The company will launch its developer and partner program during the summer of 2012.

MasterCard is also wielding its might in the mobile payments arena with its new PayPass Wallet Services, which build on the "contactless" payment technology that already is embedded into many of the physical credit cards that bear the MasterCard name.

The idea is to let consumers load their card information and credentials into the PayPass Wallet, which will let them make one-click purchases on any e-commerce site that offers the PayPass Wallet functionality. If your customers have a phone that is enabled with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, they will also be able to use a mobile wallet at merchants that support PayPass. The idea is to make it simpler for people to complete a transaction, once they decide to make a purchase and regardless of whether or not they've got enough cash on hand.

American Airlines and Barnes & Noble will be among the first two retailers to include the technology on their Web sites; American will also use it with its mobile application.

MasterCard will be releasing an application programming interface (API) that will allow partners to integrate their own digital wallets with the system. A broader push among partners will start in the third quarter of 2012, the company said.

"Consumers are looking to pay for goods when, how and where they choose," said Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer for MasterCard, in a statement. "Merchants want flexibility to easily accept digital payments so they can convert more browsers to buyers both online and in store. We realize when it comes to payments, no single wallet will rule them all."

From a small-business standpoint, it may interest you to know that Digital River and Sage Pay are among the early technology partners supporting the PayPass Wallet Services.

PayAnywhere, which develops mobile point of sale (POS) solutions, said it plans to ship its PCI-compliant credit card reader and service for smartphones this month. The technology should be available for small businesses to pay at retailers in the summer, the company said.

PayAnywhere works with iPhones, iPads, Android tablets and smartphones, and BlackBerry devices. The company touts the fact that the strip that reads credit cards is approximately twice the length of competitive technologies, for improved reading.

PayAnwhere's reader costs $9.95, and the mobile application can be downloaded for free to your mobile device from the appropriate application marketplace. Once your business transacts $150 in sales, it will receive a rebate to cover the cost of the reader. The service offers pay-as-you-go pricing, at a rate of 2.69 percent per transaction.

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