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VeriFone follows Square's lead with its own iPhone credit card payment system [Updated]

December 8, 2009 |  1:54 pm
Verifone-payware-mobile
PAYware Mobile. Courtesy of VeriFone

Not to be outdone by tech visionary Jack Dorsey -- one of the brains behind Twitter -- and his Square cellphone payment start-up, point-of-sale  veteran VeriFone struck today with the announcement of PAYware Mobile.

Not dissimilar from the Square iPhone application and accessory, which The Times profiled last week, PAYware targets small businesses with its subscription-based model.

The PAYware app and device, which plugs into the iPod dock connector and cradles the phone, is free when users sign a two-year contract.

Along the lines of a cellphone contract, users pay an activation fee of $49, a monthly fee of $15 and 17 cents on each transaction.

The subscription model makes it an unrealistic option for the casual Craigslist seller, which Dorsey pegged as his target market. Indeed, VeriFone is going after cafes (as is Square), home repair and door-to-door salespeople.

Though VeriFone dominates part of the retail transaction space, its mobile foray is limited in some major ways.

For one, its hardware is designed specifically for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch, whereas Square uses the headphone jack and could potentially be ported to practically any device -- phones, handheld game systems, some cameras. Along those same lines, the accessory renders the iPhone incompatible with battery-charging devices and form-fitting cases.

But it does come with a stylus for signatures, which is more natural and less germy than Square's draw-with-your-finger method. VeriFone is accepting applications to be among its first users.

Square and PAYware aren't the first apps to let iPhone users accept credit card payments. Process Away and Credit Card Terminal are two apps that let users manually input card numbers. But the hardware solutions don't come with those nasty no-card-present fees.

[Updated at 2:53 p.m.: Clarified that PAYware isn't compatible with the iPod Touch. VeriFone spokesman Bartolik writes in to say the company is developing hardware and software for Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Android.]

[Corrected at 4:34 p.m.: VeriFone spokesman Pete Bartolik wrote in to confess that he was incorrect in his follow-up when he said PAYware was incompatible with the iPod Touch. The software does indeed work on the iPod Touch, as we originally wrote.]

-- Mark Milian
twitter.com/markmilian

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