Arguably the coolest app in the mobile payments game, Square has found and quickly filled its niche with a simple but innovative solution to the electronic payment challenge. Envy is the next step. Challengers come in the step after that. A new challenger from the UK, mPowa, threw down its challenges to Square this week.
At least verbally threatening to shake up the mobile payment services market in the U.S., mPowa, launched by British e-commerce entrepreneur Dan Wagner, says it will capitalize on weaknesses it sees in Square, such as its lack of support for Chip and PIN cards..
mPowa is a service that includes a mobile phone app and a reader, which connects to a smartphone or mobile device either by plugging into its headphone socket or via Bluetooth. It allows merchants to take payments on the go. It uses a free mobile app on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and Blackberry devices and functions as the control center that accepts payment in multiple currencies anywhere in the world. It monitors payments made by card as well as cash and check.
When connected to a mobile phone the reader swipes the magnetic strip of the card or in the case of chip-based and PIN devices it accepts their PIN code. mPowa enables businesses and individuals to take payments immediately without waiting for invoices. It also allows sales organizations in the field to take payment for goods and services.
Dan Wagner, chairman and CEO of Powa Technologies, the company behind mPowa, created the product. His first company M.A.I.D (Marketing Analysis & Information Database) was founded in 1984 and sold to Thomson Reuters for approximately $500 million. He then established Venda, an on-demand ecommerce provider. Wagner said, “The rich e-commerce heritage of the company borne out of supplying solutions to major global brands and the extensive knowledge we have of the U.S. marketplace has enabled us to create a service that has really differentiated us from what is already available. We have five patents on our important innovations and we have created a compelling offering for all companies, whatever their size.
He added that chip and PIN technology is already extensively used throughout Europe and Asia. As more companies introduce it as a way of providing an added layer of security, he said the features of mPowa become all the more crucial for companies worldwide.
Both the mobile app and reader are free. The only cost associated with using mPowa is the 0.25 percent fee charged for each credit or debit card payment processed, making it accessible to all businesses. A web-based Merchant Dashboard account management system enables users to fully monitor payments in addition to the mobile app. Meanwhile, receipts can be sent by email or SMS.