“About three years,” says AppNinjas CEO John Waldron, when I asked him how long his group of companies have been providing mobile payments solutions to merchants. Three years. That makes them tribal elders when it comes to the nascent arena of mobile payment acceptance. When I say group of companies, I mean the conglomerate of AppNinjas and MerchantFocus whose services work together to enable Swipe—yet another solution out there that lets you accept credit cards with a mobile device. See my video demo and interview with John below for more details.
We first let you know about Swipe last year during the acquisition of AppNinjas by MerchantFocus and Inner Fence. Since then their iOS app—which now uses a provided card reader to enable merchants to accept credit card payment via mobile devices—has picked up some steam. It will invariably invite comparisons to systems developed by Square, Intuit and AprivaPay among others. Truth be told, there are many companies out there doing this kind of thing. Within retail environments, Apple is the early and most visible leader at accepting credit cards via mobile devices, however even traditional brick and mortar stores like Nordstrom and The Gap are piloting their own scenarios using hardware like the Linea Pro by Infinite Peripherals and others. Apart from the in-store retail experience, Square still seems to have captured the most name recognition for being able to enable “in-the-field” credit card transactions (mostly because of their fast account set-up, which eliminates the need for a traditional merchant account) however small businesses that already have merchant accounts and their slightly better transaction rates still have other options like the previously mentioned Intuit GoPayment solution, AprivaPay and now Swipe by AppNinjas, based right here in beautiful Columbus, OH.
Swipe works as you might expect; you plug a free mag stripe reader into the bottom of your iPhone or iPod Touch (Android coming soon) and use their $0.99 app to accept credit cards, sign and email receipts. Easy-peasy.
Things to consider:
Customer Service – John characterized one of the company’s biggest benefits to merchants as customer service. In our video interview, he indicatated that AppNinjas strive to provide a high level of customer service with regard to transactional needs.
Rate – You get a low rate for your interchange fees at around 1.7%. Therefore, the more volume you are doing, the more this scenario might make sense.
Fees – While there are no setup fees there are monthly fees to have a merchant account with AppNinjas. This is not unusual for merchant account providers and again, depending on your volume, could be a really small price to pay for the Customer Service.
Set Up – You fill out a few forms online and should be up and running in two days (or whenever your reader gets to you in the mail). There will be at least one phone call that takes place for security purposes.
NFC – This is an obvious question and John and I discussed this a bit offline. As a processor, he says they are planning for integration when it makes sense to do so (probably whenever enough issuers are on board to cause a demand). He sees small merchant adoption of NFC being 3-5 years out. I tend to agree with this. Even though there have been many “announcements” lately within the sphere of large retailers considering NFC for enabling mobile transactions—Google Wallet, ISIS, etc—anyone in the payments industry will tell you there are still many practical features and value propositions missing from this ideal scenario. It’s still a few years out.
Seeing another processing service like Swipe come to market…what means to me, systemically, is that mobile payments systems are becoming part of the norm. Companies already in the payment processing business are seeing and meeting consumer and merchant desire for a solution. I think we will see more variations of this from other companies and will begin to think of it less as fringe or even the vanguard and more as a capability channel required for doing business.