Making more money than with just your credit card transaction fees.
Closing its fourth round of funding, the mobile credit card processing company just raised $200 million, making it worth a staggeringly large $3.25 billion. The company, built by Jack Dorsey of Twitter fame, allows anyone with an iPhone, iPad, or other compatible mobile device, to accept credit cards. Square is widely seen as the industry leader in the mobile payment-with-a-dongle space (I just made that term up), as evidenced by other dongles released shortly thereafter by the likes of PayPal and Intuit, among others.
In what may come as no surprise, the COO of Square, Keith Rabois, is on record at All Things D, saying that the transition from current registers and point of sale devices (like ATM card-swiping devices) to iPads or other tablets will happen within the next year and a half. Square’s partnership with Starbucks is only the first of the steps being taken actively by Square to make this a self-fulfilling prophecy.
PayPal looks to expand its mobile payment market share and features with an app-based payment trial at McDonald’s locations in France.
Square’s announcement of its partnership with Starbucks and the launch of new mobile payment company by several key retail and service chains were signs that the mobile payment industry and digital wallet concept is big business. Late last week, however, there was more news on the mobile payments front that proves that the race is far from over – one could even say that it’s barely started.
In a move that could make Square’s deal with Starbucks seem small and limited, Reuters reports that PayPal may soon be expanding its brand of mobile payments to include on the biggest fast food chains on the planet – McDonald’s. PayPal is currently testing a payment system in 30 McDonald’s locations in France. The company demoed the technology earlier this year.
Square is courting small business with new rules and lower transaction fees.
Last week, Square announced a partnership with Starbucks to provide back-end payment processing and CRM for the coffee mega-company. Today, Square brings news of the other end of the business spectrum. Small businesses who make less than $250,000 per year will no longer have to pay the standard 2.75 percent per swipe processing fee (though they can still opt for this) if they pay one flat rate, currently set at $275 monthly.
If a small businesses chooses the flat rate option, they’ll essentially end up paying 1.3 percent per swipe – a significant savings if they meet the criteria. IF the business goes over the line, they’ll be charged the standard per-swipe rate.
This is Square making sure that it can have as many users as possible, from super corporate giants to small mom and pop shops with a bit of tech savvy.
Major retails join forces on mobile payments system to fend of Google, PayPal, Isis, and other potential digital wallet competitors like Apple.
In a move that makes the Square/Starbucks partnership announced last week look like small potatoes, a group of national and international retailers announced plans to develop their own mobile payment network complete with mobile apps and digital wallet functionality. The move seems almost certain to shake up the nascent mobile payments market where a wide range of companies and organizations have been trying to figure out the secret sauce that will turn mobile payments into a mainstream retail system for the past couple of years.
The Merchant Customer Exchange or MCX, as the new company is known, plans to deliver a solution that offers convenience in both making purchases and in receiving customizable offers from retailers. Development of a mobile app and payment network are underway, but MCX has yet to announce any details about either the app or its network.
Square scored its big partnership with Starbucks by realizing mobile payments aren’t really about mobile payments.
Last week’s announcement that Starbucks is partnering with Square for mobile payments and credit card processing is big news for the nascent U.S. mobile payments market. It was also a warning shot fired by the startup across the bow of traditional payment processing companies, many of which have struggled to bring together an effective and successful digital wallet (or iWallet) solution. The move could also complicate any plans that Apple has to move into that market following the release of iOS 6 and its Passbook feature.
Square just announced a huge partnership with Starbucks that will put the hot mobile payment startup in 7,000 Starbucks nationwide this fall. The news means that Square users will be able to use the app to pay at select Starbucks locations and find nearby stores in the Square Directory.
As part of the partnership, Starbucks is investing a cool $25 million in Square and the CEO of Starbucks will be joining Square’s Board of Directors. This is definitely a win-win for Square, Starbucks, and the mobile payment industry as a whole.
With PayPal’s acquisition of card.io mobile credit/debit payments could become as easy as snapping a photo.
While Apple’s taking a wait and see approach to the nascent mobile payments and digital wallet industries, PayPal seems ready to launch an all-out offensive. In addition to its existing assortment of mobile, local, and online payment systems, PayPal announced this week that it is acquiring startup card.io.
card.io currently works with a range of iOS and Android developers to help them integrate mobile credit/debit card payment capabilities into their apps without the need of additional hardware like Square’s card reader or PayPal’s Here card reader. Instead, card.io’s partners use the built-in camera of an iPhone (or other iOS or Android device) to snap a photo of a credit card. The card number and related information is extracted and passed to a payment processor to complete the transaction (manual keying in a card number is also supported as a backup).
Passbook could be a brilliant way for Apple to trump any other mobile payment option.
Mobile payment technologies have an interesting and complicated relationship with local businesses. On the one hand, local mom-and-pop restaurants, shops, and services are probably the companies that you’d expect to adopt new payment technologies the slowest – particularly if those technologies require new point of sale hardware like an NFC reader. On the other hand, mobile payment systems could be poised to deliver a new wave of business to such local companies.
Making the situation more complicated is the fact that any mobile payment system (Google Wallet, PayPal in-store purchasing, or any system that Apple may be slowly developing) can’t be considered a solid winner or option unless that system strikes it big with local businesses. A system that only applies to large chains, like the in-store purchasing the PayPal rolled out to Home Depot and other retailers, can’t be considered mainstream unless it’s adopted very widely and by a significant percentage of small businesses.
Further complicating the relationship is the fact that many players in the race to create a true digital wallet are on focusing widely varying options for small and local businesses. That means that no one company is leading and no company really seems to have a consistent strategy for tapping this immense and important market.
Despite new technologies for mobile payments, customers trust familiar companies like Apple.
PayPal, Amazon, and Apple are leading the mobile payment market according to IDC. The research company released the results of a business strategy study that focused on new and emerging payment technologies. The 2012 study is eighth year that IDC has conducted the survey, but it is the first year where mobile payments were a major focus.
While many efforts are underway to develop new payment technologies, many of them based around NFC, most new technologies have yet to catch on with consumers.
Overall mobile payments, however, are catching on with consumers. IDC reports that the number of individuals making mobile payments has doubled since last year’s report and that one-third (33%) of consumers have made some form of mobile payment. The data also shows that the mobile payments market is being led established players and existing technologies.