New system enables mobile payments will benefit smaller businesses

Smaller local businesses are expected to benefit from a new payment system allowing companies of all sizes to accept credit and debit card payments through their mobile phone.

The new service (mPowa) includes a mobile phone app and a reader which connects to a smartphone or mobile device either by plugging into its headphone socket or via Bluetooth.

It enables customers to make payments on the go using their card in a way never before seen in Ireland.

The mobile app is free to download on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and Blackberry devices and functions as the control centre that accepts the payment. It monitors payments made by card as well as cash and cheque, as well as processing each transaction securely.

The reader, when connected to a mobile phone, is used to swipe the magnetic strip of the card, or for the chip and pin device, the card is inserted and the customer is prompted to enter their PIN code.

According to its developers, mPowa will enable businesses, including sole traders, to take payments immediately without waiting for invoices to be issued and paid.

The device is launched as many businesses are struggling to survive because of bad debt.

In the UK, £35.5 billion of debt is owed to SMEs (small and medium enterprises) alone. In the second half of last year, small and medium firms reported waiting an average of 29.6 days longer than agreed payment terms, which is a figure that represents an increase over the first half of 2011.

Because many firms are currently unable to accept card payments due to the cost of devices, the developers claim Powa will function as a way of shortening the payment process from what can be months, to a matter of minutes.