Mobile Processing With Phone Swipe

Turn your smartphone into a credit card terminal.

North American Bancard's Phone Swipe (also known as PayAnywhere) is one of the easiest and most cost-effective processing solutions on the market. It is a direct competitor to Square (from SquareUp) and GoPayments (from Intuit), but with some obvious advantages. It is also a competitor of Total Merchant Services' Payment Jack, which itself has unique advantages, but its own market niche. There are times when Square may be the right option for a merchant, though more often either Phone Swipe or Payment Jack will provide a more suitable processing solution. More info about Phone Swipe features and program specifics are available at the end of this article.
The companies providing service behind Phone Swipe and Payment Jack are very similar. Both have top ratings with the Better Business Bureau and both have been around for over a decade, providing billions of dollars in transactions for their merchants. Both companies also rely on outside sales agents to set up new merchants and thus have the ability to offer both a "standard" service and a "customized" service for processing. While the standard service option can generally be set up directly with the processing company, the best way to get the customized (and usually better) rates is to go through an outside sales agent who is eager to provide a more competitive rate in order to gain the business. But buyer beware: when dealing with outside sales agents it is essential to find one you trust and who is open about all the costs involved, and who is willing to follow the process through to completion in order to ensure that you have been set up 100% in accordance with your needs.

Where an agent protects you

It is important to know what you are getting into. While Square defaults to a "no-contract" agreement, this is not the same with every service provider. Payment Jack is always a month-to-month agreement unless specifically set up otherwise (the processing company defaults to month-to-month and recommends this to their agents). Phone Swipe can be set up with either a "Pay-As-You-Go" plan comparable to Square, with no long-term contract, or it can be set up as a 3-year term agreement with customized rates and monthly fees. An agent can do a number of things to protect a merchant here, including setting up the "Pay-As-You-Go" plan properly or ensuring that a "customized" plan is submitted with an addendum to ensure no cancellation fee should the merchant decide to switch services. In fact, completing the application with the assistance of an agent is the best way to ensure that a merchant is getting the expected terms and has the added bonus of creating a forum for asking questions or getting tips before the service is set up. 
As processing companies adjust to new standards, more agents are taking advantage of these flexible options. And in order to be competitive with products like Square, solutions like Phone Swipe must be able to offer lower overall costs and more robust features. 

Why choose one service provider over another?

Square pioneered the industry by offering a "single" rate for all card swipes. It immediately made card acceptance an easy option for many new merchants and even individuals who wished to take card payments for personal expenses (like splitting restaurant bills with friends at places that only take cash, or holding garage sales). But Square had some issues that left room in the market for established processing companies to step into this emerging mobile category. Key among these was customer service, which Square has notorious issues with. Also of importance was the frequency with which Square held up merchant deposits, questionable PCI compliance and limited device functionality. Ultimately, however, for most small merchants it came down to simplicity and cost.
Square does have a few advantages. For very low-volume, low-ticket merchants (think coffee sales out of a cart where card sales do not exceed $1,000 per week and tickets average around $5), it is hard to beat Square. Receipts can be sent as text messages in addition to emails, which is slightly faster than inputting an email address at the point of sale. And the process of completing the transaction is both fast and simple. But robust options like inventory lists and reports are limited to the iPad only, and Square has only limited support for Android devices or other Apple iOS devices and none for Blackberry. Additionally, some features like "Store and Forward" are not available at all, meaning the software cannot complete transactions without a live phone signal or WiFi connection.
Seeing these issues, North American Bancard (NAB) developed Phone Swipe and gradually worked to position it as being both more cost-effective and more robust. Not only does NAB offer 24 hour live phone support as opposed to SquareUp's support offered only via email or Twitter, but it offers the widest range of device support with a broader feature-set across all platforms. Phone Swipe allows for "Store and Forward" functionality, full inventory and robust reporting on Android, Blackberry and iOS devices, not just the iPad. Printing and cash drawer functionality is currently best on the iOS platform, including iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone devices, but is available with some hardware on Android. And Phone Swipe offers compatibility with QuickBooks, as well. The merchant portal online allows for access to all device transactions in a single place for merchants with multiple devices on one account. The "Pay-As-You-Go" plan also has lower starting rates than Square. Qualified swiped transactions are simply less expensive with Phone Swipe. Manually entered (or keyed-in) transactions are also at a lower percentage with Phone Swipe, though the associated transaction fee (both SquareUp and Phone Swipe charge an additional fee for keyed transactions) may be a few cents higher with Phone Swipe ($0.19 vs $0.15). Some card types may downgrade with Phone Swipe by 0.8%, especially corporate cards and some rewards cards which could also incur a "per item fee" of $0.19. In most circumstances, if the average ticket is over $5, Phone Swipe should still offer recognizable savings during busy months. One of the places that merchants will also notice immediate savings is with the notoriously expensive American Express. Currently, all of those green cards are being swiped at the low Qualified Rate of 2.69% on the "Pay As You Go" plan, with no additional costs.
Phone Swipe also offers the ability for merchants to set up a plan complete with monthly fees and custom rates. Agents can offer terms based on the merchant's volume that are considerably lower than Square's standard rates, but merchants must understand where this becomes a cost-savings for them. Because the "effective rate" of processing includes factoring in the monthly (and any recurring fees like PCI compliance), it is essential that the agent does some basic math for the merchant before setting the terms. In virtually every case, merchants will process more cost effectively on the "Pay-As-You-Go" plan if they are doing less than $2,500 in sales every month. The only time this would be questioned is if there is a predominance of manually entered transactions or of swiped corporate/business cards. In these instances, it is possible to have an agent set up the account as a MO/TO (Mail Order/Telephone Order) account at better rates or to set it up as an "Interchange-Plus" style account with associated monthly fees. Tiered plans are also available, but do not always not see the same level of savings in these categories. The bottom line is that the higher the monthly volume, the more advantageous to be on a contract plan with those additional fees. But every merchant is different and individual needs vary. For those merchants doing over $10,000 monthly who take a high percentage of those aforementioned green AMEX cards, there is a Phone Swipe plan called "Option C" which will be especially appealing: the three-tier plan will begin with a Qualified Rate of 1.69% that includes American Express and it includes the free placement of an iPad tablet. In some cases, this "free tablet" program may also be available for merchants processing less than $10,000 per month, so check the website (or contact me directly) for updates. 
Payment Jack takes another route by positioning itself with lower monthly fees than any other mobile solution along with highly competitive rates for the service. In addition to the industry's lowest PCI compliance fees (which can be waived entirely for the first year of service), the monthly fees are considerably lower than their competitors. The rates are offered only as customized tiers or limited Interchange-Plus. This makes the service particularly attractive to businesses that are doing over $600 in weekly card sales and potentially several thousand per week, or minimally about $1,800 monthly with some months considerably higher. Due to a $0.25 transaction fee, it is more suited to merchants whose ticket sales are all over $25. For merchants with lower ticket totals, the lower transaction fee (or lack of it) will make a bigger difference than lower percentages.

Payment Jack's software is not as robust as Phone Swipe, with fewer options for things like inventory. However, the feature set is growing and it is priced comparably or better than most standard card swiping terminals for brick and mortar businesses while offering the flexibility of a mobile solution. Payment Jack also has a great backup option for merchants to manually enter transactions in a web-based virtual terminal (and for MO/TO accounts, this allows for customized rates on Payment Jack that can be used on iOS or Android devices or any connected Laptop or web-enabled tablet with a compatible browser).
Because of all the nuances inherent in each processing solution, consulting with a knowledgeable agent is essential. Feel free, for instance, to email me. Because I am an independent consultant and not an employee of any processing company, I always endeavor to steer merchants into the solution that is best for them. Please do not SPAM me, however, and I promise never to do the that, either.

Some Specifics About Phone Swipe

Phone Swipe from North American Bancard offers the ability for individuals or businesses to use mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets as credit card processing terminals. A small card reader is provided (usually at no cost) for each account to offer encrypted swipes which qualify for lower rates than manually entered transactions. As with any processing company, always make sure that you read the fine print and truly understand it. And go by what you read: all agents are capable of making mistakes or even misunderstanding details. I've been in that position before and so has every agent I've known (whether they realized it or not). But you can always rely on what you have on paper to understand your service and features. Besides, the service and features may change periodically, so keeping on top of this is important for every business owner. You always want to ensure that you have the best deal for you. Download your "service agreement" and ask questions if you have them (most use boilerplate language and not every detail may apply to your program). Always download and read your monthly statements. In addition to your transactions, the statements also have alerts for any changes that you might need to be aware of.

Phone Swipe Features

Free Software
The application can be downloaded directly from the app store / marketplace associated with each compatible device. The application is free and can be tested for basic functionality without setting up an account. When you are ready to set up an account, if you would like to contact me directly, you may either email me at jep (AT) and send me your own contact info and any details or questions that you'd like, or you can press the "I Need An Account" button and input this code into the "Source Code" or referral code box: 16732
By putting that code in, the application will know to email me your contact info and I can work with you to ensure you are getting the best terms. Without putting that code in, you will get directed to a generic agreement. (Conversely, you can also sign up for the account online and then download the app later when you have your login credentials.)
Email ReceiptEmail Receipts
Like the competition, receipts can be emailed to customers complete with any pictures from the inventory, a map of the sale location and, of course, a copy of their signature. Paper receipts are also an option with compatible equipment. Printers are not provided by the processing company, but are available from a variety of sources. Check for device compatibility.
SalesOptionsTips and Tax
The Geo-Tax feature allows Phone Swipe to set the tax for you based on GPS coordinates with compatible devices, or the tax amount can be set manually within the software (or zeroed out altogether). Tipping can be set at a variety of standard amounts or left entirely to the customer, or turned off.
Reports can be generated on the fly to examine daily, weekly or monthly sales within the device. Inventory items may also be examined to see what the most popular sales are. Online reports are also available to look at sales amounts across multiple devices.
InventoryThe software allows for categories to be set up so that large inventories are easily searchable, with color-coding and custom images direct from the device's camera. Whether items are taxable can also be set up within the inventory.

PCI Compliance
Phone Swipe maintains security for both the customer and the merchant by encrypting swipes at the source. Card information is never stored anywhere within the software or hardware. The card readers (manufactured by RoamPay) follow up-to-date PCI security requirements.


For existing merchant accounts, call Customer Care and Technical Support: 877-387-5629


The Phone Swipe application and card reader accessory are available for the following operating systems:
  1. Apple -  iOS 4.3 or higher
  2. Android - Minimum OS 2.1
  3. BlackBerry - Minimum OS 4.7

Download app for free from the App Store, Google Play (formerly Android Market), or App World. If you are setting up a new account, you may input Source Code 16732 for a no-obligation consultation (via phone or email) on which various Phone Swipe options are appropriate for your business.

Phone Swipe is currently only available for merchants in the United States.

Special Note About Phone Swipe vs PhoneSwipe Spelling and Spacing

Interestingly enough, you will find the spelling of the product name with and without the space. When PhoneSwipe was first introduced, it actually looked like this: phoneSWIPE. And that is how you will still see it presented in logo format on many web pages and such. I initially began writing about this product in places like HubPages with the product name as a single word that had both a capital P and S. At some point, the space became the norm in company communications, unlike their clone product, PayAnywhere, which retained the "no space" format, although it also shows up here and there as two words. So now it is Phone Swipe in official correspondence and, although I miss writing it as one word and do occasionally slip, I try to reflect the way they are currently doing business by writing it as two.


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