Mobile point of sale company mPowa announced today that its mobile payments service covers Android smartphones and tablets, as well as Apple iPhones and iPads. Customers with mPowa’s card reader may simply go to the Android Google ‘Play Store’ and download the mPowa mobile payment app to their phones, for free, and then make and accept card payments – using any major credit or debit card – on the go anywhere.
Dan Wagner, CEO and founder of mPowa, said: “With mPowa we are allowing businesses everywhere, from the smallest to the largest, to take payments wherever business is transacted. mPowa is the first to offer such an innovative and exciting mobile payment solution for Android. The device accepts all major credit and debit cards including Visa, MasterCard and American Express. The recent extension to Android shows that mPowa is a truly universal way of making and accepting mobile payments, unlimited by geography, card issuer, operating system, device, currency or method of verification.”
mPowa’s service includes a free mobile app and reader which turn any mobile phone into a mobile point of sale device. The reader connects to a smartphone or mobile device either by plugging into its headphone socket or via Bluetooth. mPowa’s reader can either swipe a card’s magnetic strip or use Chip and PIN technology. Increasing numbers of credit card companies worldwide are introducing cards bearing a chip, so this is very important, both locally and internationally where in many markets it is a requirement for merchants.
This news comes as iZettle announces that from 1st August it cannot process any payments using Visa in Denmark, Finland or Norway. iZettle’s device apparently does not meet Visa Europe’s standard acceptance requirements. Visa is a highly popular card across many European countries, so this is a major restriction.
The Techcrunch blog has reported that iZettle’s CEO Jakob de Geer describes the need to shut down Visa acceptance as “disappointing”, ”annoying,” and “puzzling,” but also notes that he thinks it’s just a short-term problem: “I’m pretty confident that we’ll find a way forward,” he told TechCrunch. “You have to regroup and adapt; that’s part of the game part of being in a disruptive space.” For its part, a Visa Europe spokesperson tells TechCrunch that the problem arose over Visa’s “standard acceptance device requirements:”:“Visa Europe supports the development of new types of acceptance devices to be used by small merchants not previously accepting cards. However, Visa Europe has not yet agreed for Visa cards to be accepted on the iZettle platform, as it does not currently meet our standard acceptance device requirements.”
Visa Europe’s has declined to release details concerning which requirements are not being met by iZettle, although it may have something to do with how payments are authenticated on iZettle’s platform: a consumer pays using the chip on the card — different from the magnetic swipe strip most common on U.S. cards — but does not enter a PIN to authenticate; rather he signs on the screen of the device. This is an acceptable form of payment in the Nordics and PIN on mobiles is less secure, claims De Geer, but he admits that it may be that Visa wants the PIN element worked into the platform anyway (iZettle also notes that its method is approved by EMV).
iZettle also wanted to make further clarification on how it differs from mPowa. “We are a ‘one stop shop’ whereas with mPowa you need to sign up separately to get a merchant account with the bank to even be able to take the first payment (and getting a merchant account is often is a lengthy procedure),” notes a spokesperson. “We also offer personal accounts with iZettle for individuals, but mPowa’s service is only for merchants.”