If you’ve been waiting to get the opportunity to charge your customers from your smartphone like small businesses can do in the us with services like Square, then your wait is finally over. A new service called Payleven is now on sale in Apple Stores in the UK and across Europe allowing iPhones to be converted into chip and pin card readers to take payments from your customers on the go.
Ours cousins across the Atlantic have been using a device called Square for some time to take payments. Square fits into the headphone socket of an iPad or iPhone and well as some Android devices and allows you to take payments by swiping a customers card. Square’s model works on providing a free device then charging either a fee of 2.75% of each transaction or $275 a month. The app is particularly useful to businesses where the client is visited by the company, for instance plumbers and mobile hairdressers. They’re also popular with so called ‘pop-up’ stores and market traders.
Square hasn’t come to Europe yet largely because Europe moved to Chip and Pin payments that require the card reader to read a metal chip in the card rather than swiping the magnetic strip as Square’s reader does. Enter Payleven to try to fill the gap, with the help of Apple who have put their devices on sale in Apple Stores priced at £99. Like Square there’s no monthly fees, and the transaction fee is a reasonable 2.75%. If you purchase from the Apple Store the first £20 of fees are included free. You can also purchase the device directly from Payleven for £89 ex VAT.
There’s already rivals though. iZettle, based out of Sweden, has been processing payments in the UK for a little white now. They’ve got both Chip and Pin models and so called ‘chip and signature’ versions of their device for £99 and £20 ex VAT respectively. They work with iPhone, iPad and some Android devices and charge a 2.75% transaction fee.
PayPal are working on their own chip and pin device called PayPal Here which will be stand alone from a smartphone and use physical keys. We expect payment fees to be closer to PayPal’s standard fees which tend to be higher than most merchants are used to from card payments. It’s expected to launch in the UK this summer.
If you don’t own your own business then this might seem a bit uninteresting, but it should mean that more places start accepting card payments. There are still many cafes, takeaways and shops that don’t accept cards because of lengthy contracts and expensive monthly fees charged by banks for the plastic devices that we see everywhere. The low cost of these devices should encourage more places to accept card meaning we don’t have to go hunting for the nearest cash machine. It should also help facilitate the burgeoning pop up scene meaning more vintage stores and homemade cupcake stalls beginning temporarily appearing in the local park with a way of taking non-cash payments.