The Green Sheet Online Edition
March 22, 2010 • Issue 10:03:02
A mobile payments bundle
Smart phone payment terminals are spreading like wild firewalls. Many were initially limited to Apple Inc. iPhones or Research in Motion BlackBerrys, but more and more makers are aligning their offerings with a range of smart phones as they strive to make their products available and cost-effective for just about any merchant who dreams of handheld payment acceptance.
That is the case with MerchantWARE Mobile, the mobile terminal from Merchant Warehouse that is now available on the iPhone, BlackBerry, Google Inc. Android and Microsoft Corp. Windows Mobile.
Terminal and gateway in one
According to its makers, what's special about MerchantWARE Mobile is that Merchant Warehouse is both its provider and the ISO that enables gateway connectivity.
The merchant's life is simplified because setup, upgrade and troubleshooting issues are the province of one company. And, as a bonus, the payment application is free.
"We're one of the first ISOs to actually own the application end-to-end, not only the application but the gateway it flows through," said Henry Helgeson, President and co-Chief Executive Officer of Merchant Warehouse. "When you download the application and sign up for the merchant account, we automatically light up the gateway that goes with that.
"It's a huge advantage in this marketplace to the educated merchant or MLS [merchant level salesperson]. Because we own it, we can give it away, so the agent gets to make more money on it, the merchant gets a cheaper price, and all the support on it is done in- house."
Another feature of MerchantWARE Mobile is that all customer payment data is stored within a vault operated by Merchant Warehouse, rather than on the mobile device, where it is more vulnerable to hackers, Helgeson said.
Furthermore, while the service is obtained as a mobile download, it can be accessed through a Web portal on any computer, affording merchants a more encompassing view of reporting data than what's available on the tiny screen of a handheld phone. Merchants can also connect to the Merchant Warehouse gateway and conduct payments from desktop or laptop computers.
"They do have [standard computer] access to the gateway, so if they lose their phone or anything like that, they can go in and make these charges on their system," Helgeson said. "We have a virtual terminal where they can log in from their computer. So you're not just limited to your [personal digital assistant] - you have access to the back-end from your computer. That's much more robust than what you can put on a smart phone, because the screen size limits you."
Helgeson said the product has proven especially popular with mobile micro-merchants, including taxi cab drivers, flea market vendors and plumbers.
"Our chief competition in this market has been cash or check, and when we put something like this in a merchant's hands, we allow them to take payments more quickly, more easily and more securely than they would normally," he said.
Helgeson added that MerchantWARE Mobile has a companion product in the MagTek Inc. encrypted card reader for merchants who want to conduct swipe transactions. He noted that the card reader is currently available with every smart phone that supports MerchantWARE Mobile, except the iPhone, but that a swipe product for that instrument is under development and will hit the market soon.
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