Aiming to make it easier than ever for small businesses to accept payment from customers whether in the shop or on the go, Verizon Wireless and Intuit Thursday unveiled a new strategic alliance centered on mobile credit card processing.
Under the deal, Verizon Wireless will offer Intuit's (NASDAQ:INTU) GoPayment mobile payments app and a pocket-sized credit card reader through its 2,300 retail stores and business-to-business sales channels. The mobile card reader plugs into the audio jack of supported smartphones and tablets (including iOS, Android and Blackberry devices) and lets business owners swipe credit cards and debit cards. The app also lets you enter card information manually.
"Intuits GoPayment on America's most reliable network is a mobile transaction game-changer, and [it] brings another dimension of must-have technology to the small business community," said Mike Schaefer, executive director of the Business Solutions Group for Verizon Wireless.
"Payments and transactions are often the biggest hurdle businesses face," Schaefer added. "Our value proposition is to streamline, simplify and enable business owners to get paid with minimal delay. This collaboration with Intuit is an important part of our strategy to bring the most innovative online and mobile tools to our customers."
Chris Battles, head of product management for Intuit Payment Solutions, added that small businesses need the flexibility to accept payment from customers in the way customers want to pay.
"Small businesses have just been missing out on sales opportunities because they didn't take credit cards, and customers increasingly want to pay that way," he said. "This isn't just a mobile need. People need to get paid on the go. They need to get paid at trade shows. They need to get paid at the customer's site. But they also need to get paid anywhere in their stores."
He noted that mobile credit card processing is a perfect technology for restaurants, because it allows servers to process mobile payments right at the table. And while the two companies are positioning GoPayment as a small business technology, Battles also noted that the price and ease-of-use of the technology makes it an excellent tool for people holding garage sales or even Girl Scouts selling cookies door-to-door.
The two companies said the GoPayment mobile credit card reader is available to Verizon Wireless customers for $29.97, but it's free with the activation of a GoPayment account and mail-in rebate.
GoPayment offers two tiers of service. The basic service has no monthly, transaction or cancellation fees. Instead, you pay a 2.7 percent fee for swiped transactions. Battles explained that the free plan makes sense for GoPayment users who do less than $1,000 in credit card transactions per month.
The other plan costs $12.95 per month (Verizon customers can get two months free), and there are no cancellation fees. Under this plan, customers pay a 1.7 percent fee for swiped transactions.
"Even the smallest of businesses can start accepting credit card transactions for very little out-of-pocket expense," Battles said.
The GoPayment app supports up to 50 users on one account. And it gives small businesses the capability to create and sell from a list of frequently sold items. Users can also choose to apply sales tax, add tips and send customized receipts via text message and email. The receipt can even include a map of where the transaction took place if the seller chooses.
Not surprisingly, the GoPayment app integrates with Intuit's QuickBooks, which lets you sync transactions with recent versions of that application. The functionality works with PCs and Macs, and Battles noted that it will also soon work with QuickBooks Online.
For security, the mobile payments technology never stores credit card information on the smartphone or tablet used. Additionally, the data is encrypted twice -- first by the card reader at swipe and then a second time by the GoPayment app.
"Rather than lose out on potential business, anyone who sells a product or a service can now easily and affordably give their customers the option of paying with plastic," said Chris Hylen, general manager of Intuit's Payment Solutions division.
"GoPayment is meeting a huge need, and it's one of the fastest growing mobile payment solutions in the market. With Verizon Wireless, well help even more people discover that they, too, can process credit card payments on the smartphones or tablets they already own."
Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to SmallBusinessComputing.com and a former senior editor at InternetNews.com. He covers operating systems, standards and security, among other technologies.
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