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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Your phone - the new cashless register

A new app, with the use of a dongle, can turn a smartphone or tablet into a point-of-sale terminal.
The Straits Times - March 28, 2012
By: Sherwin Loh
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Your phone - the new cashless register -- PHOTO: DL BUSINESS

Cashless credit-card-style mobile payments are finally here.

With the use of a dongle that reads credit card information, either through the card's magnetic strip or the EMV chip, smartphones and tablets can now be transformed into credit card terminals.

Swiff, by SCCP Payment Services, which is headquartered here, is looking to offer its new platform in Singapore, with plans to roll it out globally.

The premise is simple.

Instead of spending huge amounts of money renting credit card terminals to make transactions, any business can sign up with Swiff and turn a low-end smartphone into a point-of-sale terminal.

It is used with the Swiff app, which is available on Apple's iOS, Google's Android and RIM's BlackBerry platform. An employee keys in the payment amount and swipes the customer's credit card on the dongle.

The credit card details are displayed on the app and the employee keys in a PIN unique to the business and user. The customer enters his e-mail address and signs off on the bill via the app.

Once the transaction is approved, the receipt is sent to the customer by e-mail.

Swiff is working with banks to introduce this new method of payment. Banks will still charge businesses a credit card transaction fee, which may range from 1.6 per cent to 3 per cent per transaction, depending on the size of the business.

But businesses will not have to invest in terminals, emphasised Mr Jerome Cle, co-founder and chief executive officer of SCCP Payment Services.

Swiff charges US$60 (S$75.70) to activate the service and an additional US$3 for each PIN. The card reader is provided free.

Aite Group, a research company, projects that mobile payments in the United States will hit US$214billion in 2015.

Swiff is not the only player riding this wave. The best known e-commerce player, PayPal, rolled out a similar service, PayPal Here, in the US, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong earlier this month.

Instead of using banks, PayPal handles the transactions directly. In the US, it charges a fee of 2.7 per cent of the purchase price. In Australia, it charges 2.4 per cent plus AUD$0.30 (S$0.40) per transaction, and in Hong Kong, 3.9 per cent plus HKD$2.35 (S$0.40).

The dongle is free and the company does not charge set-up fees. PayPal is scheduled to launch the service in Singapore at a later date.

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