In Tech: Everywhere Commerce

Payments are changing, and at the center of the revolution is the mobile phone.


Published in the March 2012 issue

Whether you are at a trade show, a craft market or doing a private visit to a client’s home, it has become a lot easier to process a credit card. All you need is a smartphone and an app. The new applications promise much more than convenience and the possibility of an offsite sale. If their backers are to be believed, they represent the future of all payments. Goodbye wallets, goodbye cash registers, maybe even goodbye merchant accounts and their multiple fees.

Here are the leading players:


HOW IT WORKS >> Sign up for the service, and Square sends you a free card reader that plugs into the earphone jack of your tablet or mobile phone. Download the free app, type in your banking
information, and you can be accepting payments within a minute, the company claims. After swiping the customer’s card, the sales associate sends the client a receipt via e-mail. A free software  addition called Square Register allows the user to create a loyalty program that tracks purchases.

TARGET USERS >> Initially small-business people. Eventually the world, or at least most merchants.

COST >> Card reader is free at The company takes 2.75 percent of each transaction.


HOW IT WORKS >> GoPayment syncs with Intuit’s QuickBooks accounting software. A merchant account is required, which can take a few weeks to set up. Once that’s done, Intuit will ship a free card reader to be used in conjunction with the app (for Apple or Droid phones).

TARGET USERS >> Small businesses, existing QuickBooks customers.

COST >> Two plans at free with 2.7 percent swipe fee or $12.95 a month and 1.7 percent swipe fee.


HOW IT WORKS >> With a solid card reader sleeve and stylus, VeriFone’s PAYware hardware for the iPhone and iPad is the most professional looking and claims to have the strongest security.

TARGET USERS >> Small and medium-sized firms.

COST >> A mix of fees based on business type, risk criteria, method of processing, etc. Check out for details.


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