Archive for the ‘credit card readers’ tag
In late July, NFC industry news site NFC Times reported that ViVOtech, a software and systems provider which makes everything from smart posters to transaction management infrastructure, was shutting down. The company soon after released a statement explaining that it wasn’t closing up shop, but it was “restructuring its operations.” Today, ViVOtech has made progress on that front: it has unloaded its reader business to ID TECH, and says its focus will now be on making software.
The company states that it has completed the sale of its ViVOpay reader business, effective today. The buyer is Cypress, California-based ID TECH, which manufactures and supplies smart card and credit card readers for secure PCI payment solutions, which are used in point-of-sale terminals and mobile applications. ViVOtech’s existing customer base and supplier relationships will be transferred over to the new owner. The NFC Times’ original report had stated that the likely buyer for the business was PAX Global Technology, the owner of Shenzhen, China-based PAX Technology, but that turned out to not be the case.
Unlike ViVOtech, ID TECH is not solely focused on NFC products, but also makes things like MagStripe card readers and writers, barcode readers, POS keyboards, secure PIN entry products and more. It sells to point-of-sale, hospitality, access control, gaming, transportation and kiosk industries through a host of VARs, OEMs and distributors.
In an additional statement, also posted online, ViVOtech says that with the sale of the reader business behind it, it will now focus on its ViVOnfc Software business instead. “We are focusing 100% of our energy on the continued support of our customers, contracts and partners, and on growth of this business,” reads the official statement, which was just shared with us courtesy of ViVOtech CEO Mick Mullagh.
ViVOtech has been one of the more notable names in the NFC technology space, and was responsible for over half the NFC terminals found in big-name retailers such as McDonald’s, Home Depot, Whole Foods and more. It had shipped almost 1 million terminals worldwide, had over 80% U.S. market share for NFC readers, and was reporting sales in “double-digit millions” back in 2011. The company also partnered with Google on Google Wallet, and it partnered with Isis, the NFC joint venture between U.S. mobile operators AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
Despite recent growth due to smartphones, NFC adoption has been slow, in part due to the confusion around mobile payments, the failure of the industry to establish one standard way to pay via mobile, and Apple’s decision to hold off on NFC integration in its iPhone devices, which have significant market share.
Let the mobile payment wars continue! Only yesterday Square announced its ever-expanding retail availability (20,000 outlets nationwide), and today competitor Intuit GoPayment is following up with some major news of its own. Intuit is now merging its traditional POS software, QuickBooks POS, with its mobile offering (and Square rival) Intuit GoPayment.
The two solutions will now be able to communicate with each other, syncing both inventory and financial data from PC to mobile or vice versa.
Intuit has been in the POS business for 10 years and its QuickBooks POS solution is aimed at the small to medium-sized business customer. Currently, the company has 200,000 SMB retail customers who together reach 23 million customers across the U.S. Combined with GoPayment, the businesses process $6 billion in transactions annually.
Intuit GoPayment launched back in summer 2009, and now competes with Square, VeriFone’s PayWare, PayPal Here and many other “POS Light” solutions, as Chris Hylen, VP of Intuit Payments, calls them.
The GoPayment mobile app is free and the basic service includes no monthly transaction or cancellation fees. The swiped transaction rate is 2.7% for pay-as-you-go users, and, like Square, it has eliminated the per transaction fee. Intuit also offers a $12.95/month option, which reduces the swipe rate to 1.7%. These rates will not change as a result of the integration between the two products, and customers can still sign up for GoPayment as a standalone service. POS solution customers, however, will now have GoPayment bundled in with the cost of the boxed software, whose price will not change either. And the GoPayment credit card readers will continue to be available for free.
Key to the integration are the two products’ ability to sync their data from PC to mobile or the other way around. With QuickBooks POS, businesses can manage multiple locations, track customers, create and management inventory, run reports, and more. There are also features that allow it to track employee clock-ins and clock-outs and automatically calculate commissions, as well as advanced controls which allow businesses to lock down permissions for certain tasks by user. (E.g., who can process returns, who can add inventory, etc.).
Post-integration, inventory levels and transaction data can sync between the products both ways. By default, the sync occur every hour, but you can also press “sync now” to force a refresh at any time. By doing so, GoPayment can then work as either a lightweight alternative to a traditional POS, or can supplement a traditional POS system with mobile capabilities.
While Intuit doesn’t reveal the size of its GoPayment user base, it has been moving to expand the service outside the U.S. In January, GoPayment became available in Canada, and now, says Hylen, Intuit is “exploring a variety of countries and geographies,” and its strategy is “to move aggressively” in terms of international expansion. (QuickBooks Online, it should be noted, is already available in Canada and Singapore, for example.) However, integration between GoPayment and QuickBooks POS is not yet complete for Canadian business customers. Although the POS solution is a somewhat old-school, PC-only product at present, Hylen says the company is exploring bringing that online, too.
Originally targeted at field trades (contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc.), the GoPayment user base is now 40% service-based customers, and just 17% field trades with the rest being retailers. ”We’re seeing a lot more businesses that are using it every day to run their business, and are bit larger than the single hairdresser,” says Hylen of the typical GoPayment user. Plus, he adds, “it’s the QuickBooks integration that hooks them in.”
GoPayment’s integration with Intuit’s POS solution is just the one of many steps the company is taking to create a platform from its separate products, both business and consumer-facing alike, Hyden explains. Further down the road, the company has plans to bring other products like its payroll solution, website solutions, and financial data tracker Mint.com under the same umbrella, too. “That’s the larger story for Intuit, we’ve had separate products and we now need to get to an ecosystem,” says Hylen, “because that’s where the power comes for the customer.”
While Square and PayPal have received quite a bit of hype for their mobile credit card payment solutions, they’re still just “point of sale-lite,” according to Intuit’s mobile payments and point of sale (POS) head Trevor Dryer.
Mobile credit card readers are a fine solution for young businesses, but they currently don’t scale very well as businesses grow. Realizing that, Intuit announced today that it has integrated its GoPayment credit card reader with Quickbooks Point of Sale 2013 – allowing nascent businesses to start out with the GoPayment reader and easily transition into the more robust POS suite for more complex tasks.
“GoPayment was really started to tap the low end of the market,” Dryer told VentureBeat in an interview yesterday. Intuit launched GoPayment in 2009, giving it a healthy head start on both Square and PayPal’s Here. The company was surprised to find that businesses quickly wanted more robust features in GoPayment, and its existing POS users were increasingly turning to GoPayment even though they had difficulty synchronizing that mobile data with Quickbooks POS.
“The thing that is missing from other POS solutions is bringing together simple and complex features,” Dryer said. Intuit, of course, is no stranger to building complex financial applications. The company that made Quicken and Quickbooks household names now has more than 200,000 small business customers using Quickbooks POS, a market that it’s been pursuing for over ten years now, and over 8 million small business customers in total. If any company is going to help mobile payments mature, it could very well be Intuit.
The GoPayment integration works as you’d expect: in QuickBooks Point of Sale 2013 you’ll now easily be able to see sales made from the credit card reader. And on the GoPayment end, you’ll be able to see live inventory and pricing data from Quickbooks POS.
While GoPayment was likely enough to handle your your artisanal organic goat cheese business as you camped out in your local farmer’s market, you’ll quickly outgrow it as you build your cheese empire. QuickBooks POS offers plenty of features to help your growing business, including inventory tracking, multi-location management, customer tracking, employee hour and pay management, and more.
Eventually the likes of Square and PayPal will have to offer similar solutions for growing retail businesses — unless they’re content with just handling the low-end of the mobile payments market. (E-commerce is a different story for PayPal, where it’s powering payments for many online businesses.)
Dryer mentioned offhandedly that he’s noticing many small businesses are being influenced by Apple’s new move towards mobile payments with its stores. They’re seeing Apple offer cool features like self-checkout from your phone, and they want a piece of that action. He mentioned a garden store that now uses GoPayment for large items, which lets customers bring those items directly to their cars instead of dragging them to the checkout lane.
Quickbooks Point of Sale 2012 starts at $1,099.95 for the most basic version of the software, and there are also other bundles which includes retail hardware.
Square is hard at work trying to disrupt the way merchants and customers do transactions. The company recently launched its Register app for iPad to help its more than one million merchants ditch their cash registers, and its Pay with Square app makes it possible to pay hands-free at Square merchants. But its credit card reader, which helps businesses of all sizes take credit cards with their phones is still important, and offering it in more retail stores helps give the company more exposure.
Including the new Walgreens, FedEx Office, and Staples locations, more than 20,000 retail locations nationwide sell the card reader. The reader is additionally available at the Apple Store, Best Buy, OfficeMax, Radio Shack, Target, UPS, and Walmart.
“Accepting credit cards should be as easy as buying supplies at your local store,” said Jeffrey Kolovson, head of retail distribution at Square, in a statement. “We are working with leading retailers including Walgreens, Staples, and FedEx Office to give business owners convenient access to the Square Card Reader, the easiest way to accept credit card payments and grow their business.”
Photo credit: Square
Filed under: VentureBeat
SittingAround, the new service that allows parents to quickly and easily find and schedule a babysitter online, is now getting their sitters clients equipped with Square credit card readers. CEO Erica Zidel tells us that, starting now, all sitters are being offered a free Square dongle as a part of the signup process on the website, and can then indicate whether or not they accept credit cards in their online profile. Parents, meanwhile, can now search and hire sitters based on the payment method they accept.
Granted, this may not be huge news, but it’s a perfect example of Square’s momentum and potential for disruption in the industry. In this case, Square isn’t the one that’s marketing directly to the babysitters – it’s the babysitting service that is. (And frankly, as a parent myself who never carries cash, it would be great if all sitters carried a Square. Having to make an ATM stop part of date night is kind of a bummer.)
Zidel also says that SittingAround is working to add other payment options in the future and plans on integrating these into the company’s forthcoming mobile app, due out soon.
Boston-based SittingAround has doubled its user base and now has over 7,000+ families on the site and 1,500 registered sitters since its launch at the beginning of this year. The site has coordinated over 3,000 bookings to dates since then as well.
While newer than more well-established players in the online child care space (like UrbanSitter, Care.com, etc.), SittingAround isn’t about leveraging Facebook to find social recommendations, but is rather about helping you bring your current “trust network” online – including both parents and sitters alike. It also offers unique features like support for babysitting co-ops, free background checks for parents and sitters, and a “date night deals” section so parents can fully plan their night out.
The site is free to use, as it’s currently ad-supported, unlike the paywalled Care.com. “We want sitters to look at their SitterProfile as their online babysitting resume,” says Zidel. “Because we have an open platform, this profile can be used wherever sitters respond to parents – on Facebook, through a local newspaper, from Craigslist, etc.”
We’ve reported on how Jack Dorsey has been able to fulfill his lifelong love affair with dispatch systems by having credit card readers from his company, Square, installed in the back of 30 NYC taxi cabs. It’s part of a pilot program the city hopes will drive down fees. Today the company showed off their new custom design, an ipad encased in black metal with a vertical swipe.
Dorsey’s emphasis on design and manical work ethic have some people comparing him to a young Steve Jobs. The Square taxi tablet and reader is certainly easy on the eyes. Whether it can delight riders, satisfy drivers and survive the Big Apple’s byzantine governmental bureaucracy remains to be seen.
Filed under: mobile
Kicking off the new year with a fresh wad of cash: according to an SEC filing, mobile and online payments startup Jumio has raised $25.5 million in funding on top of the $6.5 million it raised from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin – and others – back in March 2011.
Jumio confirmed the financing round but declined to provide more details (which investors participated and what they plan to use the additional capital for) at this time.
The startup’s twist on helping e-merchants process card payments digitally is to leverage webcams (and smartphone cameras) to read credit cards rather than making people enter their details or swiping their cards. Its solution, called Netswipe, in other words turns phone cameras and webcams into credit card readers.
Good to see a European entrepreneur swing for the fences once more.
For disruptive mobile payments startup Square, 2011 was a year of massive growth on many levels. The startup ended the year with over 1 million merchants using the mobile payments platform to accept credit cards (there are only 8 million merchants who accept credit cards in the US). In November, Square announced it was processing $11 million in payments per day (up from $4 million a day in July). Sir Richard Branson, Kleiner Perkins, Visa, and other investors poured over $100 million over the course of the year into Square, with the company’s latest valuation pegged at $1 billion. And Square announced a number of new product innovations, including Card Case, a new iPad app and more. Not to mention the unveiling of retail deals with Apple, Wal-mart, Best Buy, Radio Shack, and Target. It’s hard to imagine how Square could top such an eventful year. But according to COO Keith Rabois, 2012 will prove to be even more monumental for the mobile payments company.
Square is kicking of 2012 with two new retail deals, OfficeMax and select UPS Store locations. With these new retailer partnerships, Square is now being sold at 10,000 retail locations, up from 9,000 at the end of last year. Square’s credit card readers sell for $9.99 in stores but each purchaser can redeem a $10 credit to their bank account. According to Rabois, retail sales of Square has been a large driver of adoption. In fact, currently 80 percent of U.S. population is within 15 minutes of a Square device sold at a retail location.
Beyond expanding retail deals (there are more to come, he says); Square will also be looking to upgrade the experience of running a business, end-to-end, on the iPad. Last May, the company debuted new iPad app Square Register, a high-powered point of sale replacement for cash registers and point of sale terminals. This year, the startup will add to the capabilities of this software, enabling small businesses to grow and manage their operations off of the device.
For example, Square will be adding in-depth merchant analytics to its iPad experience, allowing merchants to access information about which inventory is selling well, and what they can do to help make more money. Rabois tells me it’s about providing data insights from transactions and interactions, and giving these small businesses the tools that big businesses and retailers can afford. As for focusing just on the iPad, he says that if there is an Android tablet that has traction, Square will invest in a comparable Android tablet offering.
Another product area where Square will be continuing to focus its efforts is on Card Case, which is a virtual card case (via a mobile app) that consumers fill with ‘cards’ of all the merchants they visit and buy from who accept Square. These mobile cards include locations, merchant contact info, coupons, order and purchase history and more. Users can also use Card Case to ‘pay with their name’ and even enable hands-free payments.
Rabois explains that Card Case has seen major traction amongst consumers, and is on the same growth trajectory (in terms of usage and engagement) as Square was when it first launched to the public in 2009. One area where the startup will be innovating is personalization, and helping merchants to provide a more individual, personalized experience based on interactions to each customer.
As for transaction volumes, Rabois declined to give us any exact numbers but did say that transactions have hit way north of $11 million per day on a number of days in the past few months.
Armed with over $100 million in new funding, Square is also preparing for international expansion within the year, which was revealed at the time of Branson’s investment.
With the major product innovations set to take place this year, Rabois tells me that Square is also looking to triple its employee count in 2012. Currently, Square has a staff of 200 employees, up from around 40 at the same time in 2011. Most of the hiring will be of engineers, specializing in a variety of areas including iOS, Android, Ruby, back-end infrastructure and more.
In the end, Square’s 2012 goals are still aligned to the startup’s core principle: to help small businesses everywhere accept credit cards. Rabois says that there are still 26 million businesses in the U.S. that don’t accept credit cards, and he expects to convert a “huge fraction of them” this year. Stay tuned.
Customers who used the self-checkout lanes at Lucky Supermarkets have been hacked. The grocer, which operates stores in California, says some of their credit card machines have been altered with sniffers to capture credit and debit card numbers. Lucky, owned by parent company Save Mart, is telling customers who used those machines to close their bank and credit card accounts. At least 80 at-risk accounts have been identified and the supermarket chain has gotten calls from more than 500 calls from customers who fear they are victims of fraud.
Card-skimming scams have been reported at gas stations and ATMs and retail chain stores. But this appears to be a first widespread attack at a supermarket checkout lane.
A key question remains how criminals could have attached these devices at multiple Lucky locations without anyone noticing. Lucky says at least 24 Bay area stores have been affected.
According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, Save Mart’s CFO doesn’t think it’s an inside job, saying “It’s pretty well-understood technology. If a bad guy really wanted to go do this, they could probably go online and educate themselves at Google.”
Lucky first got suspicious on November 11th, when an employee doing maintenance noticed something that didn’t look right. They discovered an extra computer board inside the checkout machine recording customer info. Lucky says it warned customers on November 23rd, but it wasn’t aware of any cases of fraud at the time.
The checkout card readers were made by VeriFone, which confirmed there was a problem. The Lucky spokesman told the Mercury News “it was a very sophisticated device that they’d never seen before.” In addition to making credit card readers, VeriFone has a partnership with Google for NFC-based mobile payments.
Save Mart operates 233 stores in Northern California and Nevada under the names Save Mart, S-Mart Foods, Lucky and FoodMaxx brands. Lucky has posted a list of stores affected and information for consumers on their website.
Mobile payments startup Square has updated its popular iOS and Android apps to include loyalty tracking and discounts for regular customers and further hardware support for brick-and-mortar stores, the company revealed today.
“We’re enabling merchants to recognize regulars that use the Card Case application,” Megan Quinn, Square’s director of products, told VentureBeat. “With this update, there’s no need for coupons, punch cards or third-party apps.”
Square’s mobile payments service has seen incredible growth since its debut in late 2009. Quinn said the company has signed up more than 800,000 customers in the past year, and we heard recently that it is aiming to go more mainstream by selling its credit card readers at Walmart. Additionally, Square raised $100 million back in June on a $1 billion valuation.
With the update to version 2.2 for iOS and Android, Square’s biggest new feature concerns loyalty functions. We’ve already seen the updated Card Case application, which came out two weeks ago and makes it possible to pay Square retailers without touching your mobile device. Now, when Square retailers actively serve loyal Card-Case-using customers, they can automate the process of giving those customers a discount based on number of visits or the total amount spent.
“We want to help businesses of all sizes to grow using Square,” Quinn said. “By providing a seamless discount to loyal customers, both retailers and customers win.”
The update looks almost identical to the previous version, but it adds a “regular ribbon” (as seen in the above photo) that identifies loyal customers, and there are a few extra buttons too. There are also advanced features retailers can take advantage of such as better sales tracking, new tipping support, resending of receipts and providing refunds from the point-of-sale system.
Square also told us it has added support for some commonly used brick-and-mortar hardware devices like printers and cash drawers. When a Square merchant taps the “tender” icon, the cash drawer pops open and they can print out receipts that have personalized info. For printers, the app works with Star Micronics receipt printers and Square recommends the Star TSP143LAN or Star TSP650. For cash drawers, it works with the APG cash drawer Vasario Series equipped with a MultiPRO interface, and Square recommends the Vasario 1416 or Vasario 1616.
Filed under: mobile