Point-of-sale giant VeriFone Systems Inc. today unveiled SAIL, a credit and debit card reader that plugs into the audio jack of an iPhone and iPad and will be available for Android devices later this month. SAIL is targeting Square Inc., PayPal, and Intuit Inc., which also offer these plastic dongle-type devices for portable credit/debit card processing.
Square pioneered the concept of offering a free POS reader on mobile devices. Unlike many other POS services, Square's signup process is quick and designed for the many merchants and individuals who can't meet the credit requirements, don't want to pay the higher fees, and/or just don't want to deal with more bureaucratic POS companies.
In more than two years since its debut, Square has been quite successful, and major financial companies have taken notice.
VeriFone offers SAIL merchants two payment options: 2.7 percent per transaction without other fees, or 1.95 percent per transaction plus a $9.95 monthly subscription.
VeriFone has application programming interfaces and a software development kit for third-party companies that want to integrate with SAIL. VeriFone says, "SAIL is designed to help businesses retain and attract customers through integration with social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp."
VeriFone is offering SAIL with barcode scanning capability, inventory management software, and integration with its traditional countertop POS readers. The company says SAIL will be able to accommodate cellphones with Near Field Communication and other mobile payments options.
As I've written several times previously, 2012 will be extremely dynamic for mobile payment trials in the US, but it also will be extremely confusing for consumers and business people trying to determine which systems (if any) they want to test.
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