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Disclaimer: The entries you find in these pages are based on my individual opinions and thoughts. Some of the entries may be just plain wrong, and others harmful. Should you choose to act on, or try, anything you find on this site, you assume any and all risks associated with your actions. So there.



 


eCommerce at a Phone Near You

March 23, 2011

A while back I wrote about dropping our credit card processor. The fees and rules had gotten the best of me, and I decided to forgo the convenience. Online credit card handling has gotten much more expensive over the past couple of years.

Then along came Square. If you haven't heard of Square, it is a free App for your iPhone or iPad (and other smartphones) that allows you to accept credit cards anywhere you have an internet connection, including 3G or Edge. It even comes with a tiny, free, card swiper that plugs into the headset jack on your device. No more elaborate equipment required, just your phone and a 1" square reader.

Square requires that you sign up for an account, and pass a credit check. They are a real merchant account provider, and credit card processor all wrapped up in one, free App and service. They charge a very competitive 2.75% + $0.15 per transaction. Your money is deposited in 2-3 days.

To use Square, you open the App, fill in a description and amount, and swipe the customer's card. The customer can sign your screen using a finger. Receipts are emailed to you and your customer. The receipt includes a map with the GPS coordinates of where the transaction took place. You receive a follow-up email showing the exact amount that will be deposited to your account.

The coolest part? Not only can your business get this, but you can get a personal account too. So you can "Square Up" with your friends by credit card no more excuses about not having cash.

Simultaneous to finding Square, I discovered AcceptPay, by American Express (AKA PaySimple.com). I am a huge fan of Amex, both as a customer and a vendor. If you accept credit cards online, Amex is often less expensive than Visa/Mastercard ironic, I know, since the mainstream impression of Amex is that they charge more. Not true. Nominally, their rate is higher, but in reality, Visa/MC advertises the "Qualified" rate (as opposed to unqualified). The definition of unqualified, it turns out, is any card that has any kind of rewards or points plan pretty much every card out there. In the case of unqualified, add as much as 1% to the rate.

AcceptPay allows you to accept payment online, against any invoice. It also allows you to create and send invoices via email. It costs $20/month if you are an Amex card holder (or $35/month for PaySimple, if not). They charge a little more than Square, but do not require that the card be present (swiped), so you can take payments over the phone. No more paper.

AcceptPay now offers an iPhone App, so you can use it at any time, and any place you have access to the internet. Two great ways to get paid, with little to no cost up-front, and reasonable rates long-term. We use both at Computer Consultants Group.