Square's Tiny Card Reader

Running my own business has been great; the work is challenging and fun, and I enjoy getting paid for my hard work. The only downside? Accepting cheques and not being able to take credit cards; mobile payments in Canada aren’t micro-business-friendly at all.

Currently Zoompass is available; it’s a micropayment scheme that’s endorsed by every major telecom carrier in Canada. The idea is that your phone can act as your mobile wallet. While this is great for shuttling money around to friends and family, it doesn’t supply a solution for entrepreneurs who want to be able to provide services and charge ordinary credit/debit card-weilding customers for them on the go.

What I really want is Square; an easy-to-use, encrypted (as of today) payment method that doesn’t require a merchant account. Square provides the hardware for free, and it’s small enough to slip in your pocket, so you can tuck it away when it’s not in use.

VeriFone PAYware

Square also provides relatively low rates, charging just 1.5% of the purchase price as a fee. That’s a rate that I, as a services vendor, can live with. The downside to Square? First and foremost: not available in Canada (typical!). Also, the currently hardware doesn’t support chip-and-pin, something that’s becoming more necessary as time goes on.

As an alternative: right now VeriFone mobile is taking pre-registrations for their mobile payment device called PAYware. It’s going to retail for ~$50 (covers your activation fee as well). This bulky device offers chip-and-pin as well as swipe transactions, and includes a secure button pad on the back. The rates for VeriFone are higher, you need a merchant account (though VeriFone says that they’ll help you set one up), and the cost to get started is higher.

Neither of these devices are currently available in Canada, leaving micro-businesses as a category that is severely underserved. Someone, anyone, needs to cross the border and start offering this service… and quick!

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