MPowa launches UK’s Square


UK e-commerce outfit Powa has become the latest firm to launch a plastic dongle and mobile app that turns smartphones into payment card readers.

Although similar systems have been launched by Square, Verifone and Intuit in the US, and iZettle in Sweden, mPowa is the first of its type in the UK, claims the firm.

The free plug-in reader and app will be available next month, letting users accept credit and debit card payments through their iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys and Android devices, with mPowa taking 0.25% per transaction.

The system conforms to level 1 PCI compliance, putting it at the same level as a bank site, says the vendor. Meanwhile, the precise location of each transaction is recorded by the app, “making life near-impossible for fraudsters”.

The technology is aimed at small businesses, says mPowa: “Where once a butcher or farmers’ market salesman was tied to one location, using mPowa allows them to take their products directly to their customers without having to rely solely on cash payments.”

Several corporates have expressed interest in the technology but mPowa says that Barclays has not – as reported by the Telegraph – signed up to give the devices to its small business customers.

The mobile phone card reader business is proving lucrative in the US, where Square, set up by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, had shipped over 800,000 readers by November and reached a valuation of a billion dollars, with Visa and Richard Branson among its investors.

The concept is now beginning to move to other countries, with Intuit launching its GoPayment system in Canada and iZettle hitting the app store in Sweden with a wider European roll out on the horizon.