Taking Plastic on the Go

I’m sure by now many of you have heard about the numerous new mobile payment processing options available for small businesses. This is super exciting news for us crafters and small-scale entrepreneurs, but where to begin?
At craft markets, there have traditionally been two main options to accept payment other than cash. The first is a manual credit-card imprinter (aka the “old knuckle-buster”), which is low-tech and straightforward, but because payments are not processed immediately by the system, they can be less secure. This solution also requires setting up an account with a company like Moneris, which, when I last called to inquire, required a large set-up fee, a business bank account, a monthly fee, and an additional penalty for each month you don’t use your account.

The second traditional option is a wireless card reader, which allows you to process both credit and debit cards, and you can take it with you wherever you go. These machines are offered by Moneris and several other companies, most of which require you to be locked into a contract, charge hefty fees for stepping out of your contract, in addition to high monthly and/or machine rental fees.

We now have a third option. For those of us who have access to smart-phone technology, there are a plethora of new mobile payment options arriving on the market, which can allow you to turn your smart phone or tablet into a card reader and cash register. 

Basically, to get started with one of these systems, you just sign up with a provider, download their app and plug their card reader into your head-phone jack, which allows you to key in a sale on your mobile device, then swipe a credit card through to process it. 

Some of the major providers on the market include Payfirma, PAYD by Moneris, Kudos, Swipe, Intuit Gopayment, Square (just recently released in Canada) and Paypal Here (arriving in Canada soon…though their release date keeps getting pushed back…)

Just like with the traditional options, there are pros and cons with many of these systems, ranging from software bugs, device compatibility, and the ability to get screwed by a company who places a hold on your account. If you are considering going with any of these providers, it is important to do your research, compare pricing structures, read the fine print, and check out some customer reviews of the provider you are interested in. This US-based website has some good reviews of a few of the major options.

Company visa MC am ex reader apple an droid black berry start up fee monthly fee $ transaction fee swiped transaction fee manual transactions comments
app ninjas - swipexxx$79.00 x x $- $24.95 $0.24 1.74 - 3.79%option to apply for free card reader
intuit go paymentxx$- x $- $- $- 2.70%3.30%
kudosxxx$99.00 x x x $- $- $0.20 2.90%now offering free card reader
PAYDxxx$29.50 x x x $- $2.95 $- 2.95%card reader free for a "limited time"
payfirmaxxx$99.00 x x x $- $10 + $0.25 2.06 - 2.99%monthly minimum charges of up to $30/month
paypal herexxx$- x ? $- $- $0.30 2.70%0.15 + 3.5%not available in canada yet
squarexxx$- x x $- $- $- 2.75%0.15 + 3.5%
Please note: this information may have changed since time of writing. Please check company websites for up to date pricing and policy information.
The good news is that many of these options do not require a start-up fee, monthly fee or a contract, so you can give it a try and cancel your account at any time if you start to get a bad feeling about it. However, with lower up-front fees, the per-transaction fees are usually higher, and you will also need to factor in the cost of a smart phone / tablet and data plan (as most craft shows do not provide wireless access). This option is probably best for people who already have a data plan for personal use, or have access to a smart phone from a friend or family-member.

Have you tried out one of the new mobile payment options at a craft show?  Leave a comment and let us know how it’s working for you!

(by Linda of stitchandspoke, November, 2012)


  1. I've been using the Intuit system this year and it's been ok. The reader is free and there is no monthly fee. The only annoying thing is the application process-- it takes some time and paperwork so keep that in mind!


  2. I recently signed up for the TAKEKUDOS option -- they have a half price offer right now for the reader. Will be trying it out at my first craft show in two weeks. Heard good things from other TESTY types about this one, which is why I chose it. It took about 5 days for the application to be approved (via email) and the reader to arrive. Looking forward to trying it out.

  3. I just signed up for Square. I had a craft show yesterday and was excited to put it to use but once you set up your bank account you have to wait to verify it with 2 small deposit amounts (just like PayPal does when you link accounts) so I'm waiting for that. Also, card reader is on the way. So much like Lisa said there's a bit of time involved in getting up in running once you apply. Filling things out online is super quick but the verification and reader take a bit.


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