Not long ago, you could go into a store and expect to pay at the cash register. But increasingly, at many stores, you only need to find a wandering salesperson with a smartphone and a card reader — or simply pay through an app on your own phone.

Tech companies big and small, from PayPal to PaySimple, have made it easier than ever to implement mobile payments into a business — whether it’s on employees’ phones or on a consumer’s phone. The options are bewildering, from standalone card-reading gadgets that plug into mobile devices to application programming interfaces (APIs) for adding payments to existing mobile sites.

Read on to learn about five prominent mobile-payment options available today — as well as a few others worth calling out.

And if you want to learn more about the rapidly-changing field of mobile payments, check out our upcoming, invite-only Mobile Summit, April 14-15 in Sausalito, Calif.


PayPal, a legacy payment-processing company, has been cleaning up its application programming interfaces (APIs) and its software-development kits (SDKs). For example, last year the company announced it had incorporated the ability to scan a credit card information with a phone’s camera. PayPal has managed to get its payment system integrated with Uber, so customers can pay through a PayPal account. Meanwhile, business owners can track payments with the PayPal Here app and accompanying card reader that plugs in to a mobile device.


If that’s not good enough, companies can hit up Braintree, which PayPal moved to buy for $800 million in September. Braintree targets the developer market. It uses a simple, straightforward API accessible through PHP, Python, and Node.js, among other languages and frameworks. Hip services like Airbnb rely on Braintree to accept payments within their own apps. And with a one-touch payment option for consumers courtesy of its Venmo acquisition, Braintree could be a wise choice.


Stripe is one to watch out for. Developers talk excitedly about the service. The startup claims thousands of mobile apps use Stripe’s native mobile libraries to add a payment component. Stripe raised $80 million in January, which could mean good things are on the way. The service works with 130 currencies.


If you’re a small or medium-sized business, PaySimple might be a good choice. The company supports credit card processing with a free card reader that plugs into iOS devices. It has an app for Android, too. PaySimple charges 29 cents and a 2.39 percent fee for credit card transactions. That’s slightly lower than PayPal’s rates.

Forte Payment Systems

Another option is Forte. The company charges $99 up front for a rugged card-reading device called iDynamo into which you can slide an iPhone. But Forte throws the the reader in for free when companies sign up for service. Companies pay nothing to use Forte’s developer program. New APIs are on the way. And hey, the company has never taken on venture funding or borrowed money, so it should stay true to its vision, without shifting based on investors’ demands. If none of these sounds just right, maybe it’s worth checking out others, like Celery for adding pre-orders to a desktop or mobile site, Square for scanning cards using a dongle associated with a mobile app, and Europe-focused iZettle for card scanning. But the point is, it’s becoming easier and easier for businesses to let customers ante up with a phone.

More information:

PayPal is the faster, safer way to pay and get paid online. The service allows members to send money without sharing financial information, with the flexibility to pay using their account balances, bank accounts, credit cards or promot... read more »

Square is a revolutionizing millions of everyday transactions between buyers and sellers with its free credit card reader for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Square for iPad services as a full point of sale system for business to acc... read more »

Stripe is a simple, developer-friendly way to accept payments online. We believe that enabling transactions on the web is a problem rooted in code, not finance, and we want to help put more websites in business.... read more »

A catalyst for the next generation of commerce, Braintree provides the easiest way to pay and get paid across any device. Braintree’s global payment platform processes more than $10 billion annually (with more than $2 billion on mobi... read more »

Celery makes it easy to start selling in minutes. With Celery's page-builder, order management, and payment tools, sellers collect pre-orders from passionate supporters and sell to motivated customers. Celery is founded by an experienc... read more »

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