Some merchants in San Francisco have been approached by more than 5-6 different payment companies in the past. Some of them being Mobile card reader companies. What if the merchant is quite mobile and wants to accept payments and finds it hard to carry the card reader? Square, PayPal and Intuit are the major players who offer their card readers to merchants for accepting payments. There is a non-hardware approach to accepting payments as well. Flint, a company in the mobile payments space claims to help the merchants receive payments without the need of any hardware device.
“Fundamentally, our mission is to empower small businesses that operate in the field as opposed to store fronts,” said CEO Greg Goldfarb while explaining how it is different from Square, Intuit and PayPal.
Flint was established in 2011 and headquartered in Redwood City, California. It is backed by investors such as Storm Ventures and True Ventures. They did a Series A round of $3 million from these VCs. Flint launched its mobile app on Apple’s iOS platform in November, 2012. With over 100,000 downloads so far and a 4+ rating at the app store based on customer reviews.
Flint has kept their business model simple i.e. accept a credit card without additional hardware. Here’s how the Flint app works:
Just scan the main numbers of the card and enter card verification information to ensure a secure transaction.
Flint instantly sends an authorization request through their PCI compliant payment gateway partner.
No card data or images are stored on the phone and your customer’s privacy is protected.
The user can easily customize transactions by creating a pre-set item list, adding sales tax, enabling tipping, or including a loyalty offer in the receipt.
You can also see a video on how a Flint app works:
The app uses image recognition algorithms to read the numbers on the card's face and process a transaction. Flint's pitch is that as business owners who are constantly on the move, a credit card dongle may be hard to keep up with. Their service only requires a merchant to have an iPhone to accept credit cards.
Flint Mobile claims to provide the following features:
Easy Processing: It uses a smartphone camera to take a picture of the numbers on the card. Doesn’t take picture of whole card, only the number. If a phone has no camera then the user can manually key in the number.
Faster and User Friendly: Processing through Flint takes less time. Funds are deposited into the merchant's bank account in 2 business days
Customizable: Flint Mobile Payments enables merchants to customize their receipt as well as sales tax and tip settings on their smartphone.
Transaction Detail Tool: Merchants can see details of a transaction by tapping on the transaction tool. The Flint Mobile Payments online portal allows a merchant to view transactions reports as well as customize merchant’s profile and also view customer’s contact info.
Low Transaction Fees: Transaction fees for debit cards are 1.9% + $.20 per transaction and credit cards are 2.95% + $.20 per transaction. Merchants can accept Visa and Mastercard with Flint Mobile Payments. Square has a flat 2.75% for swiped transactions and doesn’t make a distinction between debit cards and credit cards.
Safe and Secure: Flint Mobile Payments uses a patent pending method of scanning only the required information. The information is not stored on the mobile device.
Flint’s competition is not limited to Square, Intuit or PayPal. There are other vendors including PayAnywhere, GoPayment, Verifone, etc who also compete with Flint.
PayAnywhere charges 2.69% per swipe and is slightly lower priced than the others in the market. Companies such as GoPayment, Verifone’s SAIL charge 2.7 % per transaction. Whereas Square’s 2.75% fees is the highest of them all. In other parts of the world things are getting hotter too. iZettle a company touted as “Square of Europe.” is going aggressively after merchants.
LTP View: Flint’s offering may see wide acceptance due to ease and simplicity of making payments. Flint’s mobile payment app saves payment processing time during transactions resulting in increasing operational efficiency of retail outlets and other stores. However, the main challenge for Flint lies in acquiring a large number of merchants to use their platform.