Given the already crowded state of Canada’s mobile payment sector, you might question the logic behind any corporation’s decision to launch a new mobile credit card reader in a market where so many others have tried and failed (remember Amazon Register?).

Worse still, what if that particular company has never before produced any tech hardware? Sounds like a surefire recipe for disaster, right?

Well, probably not if you’re Toronto-based FreshBooks. Already well-known for its popular cloud-based accounting software, FreshBooks is entering the mobile payment foray with a device of its own next spring.

And it was, says FreshBooks co-founder and CEO Mike McDerment, a decision based on some very sound logic.

“FreshBooks’ focus has always been with helping service-based small business owners spend less time billing their clients and running their business, and more time doing the work they love,” he says. “This segment is underserved, and we’ve found a way to serve them by providing them with user-friendly software that’s tailored to the needs of their businesses.”

Aimed squarely at the 75% of small businesses already using mobile devices as part of their daily operations, the FreshBooks Card Reader might, at first glance, not appear all that different to other such products on the market. Pocket-sized and connected to an iPhone’s audio jack, it, like its competitors, allows users to accept EMV chip and traditional magnetic swipe credit cards anywhere, while at the same time protecting sensitive credit card data.

But according to McDerment, what sets Freshbooks’ offering apart is its compatibility with the company’s well-established accounting software. As a result, invoices and accounting are managed automatically without the need to have data entered manually, allowing users to process payments quickly and easily.

Despite a market launch that’s still some months away, McDerment’s extremely positive about his card reader’s prospects.

“Thousands of people signed up for early access in the first 24 hours, many of whom currently use competitor products,” he says, adding he’s optimistic about the device’s future as “there’s a value in helping people have a best-in-class user experience and streamline their work processes to save time so they can focus on growing their business.”

The competition

While it certainly promises to be an excellent solution for businesses already integrated with FreshBooks’ cloud-based accounting software, the following are just a few of the mobile credit card readers the company will be competing with:

  • Square Reader: Like FreshBooks, Square’s mobile credit card reader can, thanks to a partnership with QuickBooks Online, also automatically import payments. Sync with Square also provides a detailed breakdown of all transactions and invoices can also be generated online. A new feature in the pipeline includes the ability to accepting Apple Pay and other contactless payments.
  • Payfirma: Canada’s first mobile payment system for Apple phones, Payfirma offers both easy swipe and manual card processing
options (just key it in). Other benefits include: geo-location tracking; in-app sales summaries; dual currency processing
(Canadian or US); real-time payment data; sales analytics; and downloadable reports.
  • Intuit Quickbooks GoPayment: Benefits of Intuit’s well-established reader include seamless integration with Quickbooks Online, as well as other Intuit cloud services and GoPayment options such as integration with the company’s point of sale equipment.
  • PaydPro: Although not a reader that plugs into your phone – it’s a stand-alone device with a keypad that connects wirelessly – Moneris’ mobile payment app is worth considering for those needing to add debit to the mix of payment options (or who simply like carrying multiple devices).

Whatever option you’re leaning towards, be sure to check whether it’s compatible with your existing software. And pay close attention to fees – that, after all, is where the majority of businesses offering mobile credit card readers make their money.

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