Today’s small businesses have access to truly amazing technologies and resources that would have seemed like science fiction just three decades ago. Internet-powered retailers, stores that exist exclusively on mobile phones, and tools like GPS to improve our businesses are just a few that come to mind.
One tool that’s become indispensable for some small businesses is the smartphone. Keeping track of appointments and expenses, calculating routes, and even communicating with your CRM system can be done from these devices. In recent years, businesses have even been able to accept credit cards via a smartphone.
For some businesses, this has been a tremendous boon. Being able to bring a virtual cash register to a trade show, client location, or even a flea market offers significant versatility that small businesses wouldn’t have had access to just a decade ago.
Here are some of the most popular smartphone credit card processing options on the market today:
Square is, for the most part, the industry leader when it comes to smartphone payment processing. It’s ideal for many small businesses that don’t have a high volume of credit card transactions. There are no upfront hardware costs, and there’s no monthly service fee. You just pay a percentage per transaction, plus a nominal fee.
One of the benefits to this program is that you don’t actually have to have a merchant account. Add in the free dongle, and it’s an attractive option for many businesses.
Here again, the device connects through the headphone jack on your smartphone. There are apps available for both iPhone and Android for the Square device.
2. RoamData RoamPay
This service offers apps for the three smartphone market leaders: iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. In addition, the device will work with a number of other handsets – over 200 in all. The connector for the RomaData device is the microphone jack, making it one of the most versatile dongle-type devices on the market.
This device works like this: it reads the card reader data, and turns it into audio. That audio is then encrypted and transferred over your phone’s data connection (whether that’s WiFi or cellular) to the payment processor.
There are a number of options you can add on to RoamPay, including a Web portal for manually entering transactions. The device works with a number of different payment processing companies.
3. GoPayment from Intuit
As the company that created the accounting software most commonly used by small businesses, Intuit has a vested interest in being able to process payments. The Intuit GoPayment system doesn’t require a card reader; you can manually enter the credit card numbers in via any smartphone with an Internet connection.
That said, there are a few different dongle options to go with this device, such as a Bluetooth-based card reader for Android, and the Mophie Marketplace reader for iPhone.
4. Paywire Mobile
This is one of the newer smartphone cash register options. It operates exclusively on iPhone, although there is talk of expanding to the Android platform.
The highlight of Paywire Mobile is its card reader device. The device can be charged using Mini USB, and connects to your iPhone via the audio jack. There’s a stylus inside the device, allowing the user to actually sign their transaction with a pointer, rather than having to use a fingertip as is common with most of the competitors.
Paywire’s interface is known for being clunky, but those that have this service suggest that the hardware is the best on the market.
5. iMerchant Pro.
This device’s unique interface on the iPhone features cash register-like sounds, including a “ka-ching” when a payment is accepted. It’s also the only payment option we found that requires a password to launch the app.
The credit card swiper is highly functional, although it’s a separate purchase. It connects to your iPhone via the dock connection, transmitting the data without having to convert it to audio. This service does require that you have a payment gateway and merchant account, as well.
As you can see, there are plenty of options out there for businesses that need to be able to accept payments on the go. The device and service you choose will have a lot to do with the frequency of your transactions, what kind of smartphone you’re using, and whether or not you have a merchant account of your own already. Each of these services has its own unique benefits that make it right for certain businesses, and all of them showcase the amazing new embedded technologies that are powering our world today.
Nick Simpson is Social Media Coordinator at Kontron, a leading designer of the ARM module as well as the nebs server. Kontron caters to a number of industries including the energy, military and medical industries.
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