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Mobile Micropayments Space Getting Crowded

Payment via mobile device - a still undeveloped niche product - is attracting a new entrant, positioning the fledgling mobile-commerce space for growth with not one but two new offerings.

This month electronic payment services company VeriFone Holdings is launching a service called PayWare Mobile. Aimed at small businesses, it includes a device with a small stylus for signatures, according to Mercury News.  It will be available before Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's new mobile payments device is generally released.

Dubbed the Square, the tiny credit card scanner, announced with much fanfare last year,  plugs into a mobile phone's headphone jack. With it, a shopper can pay for a product and receive an invoice by email. It is currently being beta tested.

Fees?

One difference between the two services is that Square - aside from the vaunted Twitter pedigree and venture capital financing - leaves many questions unanswered, particularly the issue of fees. (via eCreditDaily).

Square offers its service with "no contracts, monthly fees, or hidden costs" leaving it unclear whether it can cover costs by allowing "piggybacking" on its own merchant account, or an unknown alternative. Typically, merchant account fees can run in the range of 2 to 4% per credit card transactions, in addition to other processing fees, eCreditDaily says.

Better Suited
Dorsey, though, insists that Square is better suited to live up to the premise behind mobile payment devices - that is, giving anyone from small retailer to single consumer the ability to pay for a product or service via their smartphone.

"We're trying to build a utility that scales not just to someone selling coffee in a store but also someone selling their couch or buying a MacBook Pro on Craigslist," Dorsey says. (via Mercury News).

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