iphone_cc

Selling merch on the road – whether your band has CDs and shirts or you run your own enterprising business in geeky goods as our contributor Liz McLean Knight does – is a big challenge. Buying a full-blown credit card terminal is expensive. That’s why I’m absolutely with Hypebot’s Virgil Dickerson: running credit card numbers on an iPhone is a game changer.

iPhone App Adds Mobile Credit Card Processing to DIY Toolkit

The application in question is called Innerfence, and Apple gets it, too, as they’ve added it to a new TV ad. The app is US$49.99, pricey for an iPhone app but a whole lot less money – and a whole lot more convenient – than a big, clunky conventional terminal. Right now, you also get a $50 gift certificate to iTunes, so you can catch up on LOST and buy the new Depeche Mode and feel like the whole thing is free. The back end is powered by Authorize.net, one of the major vendors of online credit card processing. Unlike Authorize.net’s tangled website, though, this is a beautiful, polished app that works the way you want. Ironically, it puts to shame the terminals Apple employees themselves use at the Apple Store. (In fact, it sounds as though Apple will indeed — unsurprisingly — replace those Windows Mobile-powered devices with iPhones, says AppleInsider.)

There’s no physical scanner, but for casual sales that’s probably okay.

You’ll need to pay US$25 in fees monthly, though, so this is probably something you’d choose if you’re also interested in running Authorize.net on your website for CC sales. The transaction fees aren’t that bad, and you get some hard-core fraud protection features, Apple Keychain support, and all the Authorize.net features – email receipts, QuickBooks accounting integration, and the like.

Cool, but this immediately makes me wonder why we aren’t seeing more of this sort of thing. I’m a fan of apps, so to me the app here looks a whole lot friendlier than a web page. But that said, theoretically if you don’t have an iPhone or use someone other than Authorize.net, surely there’s a way to access some of the Web virtual terminals via our mobile device’s increasingly-powerful web browsers, right? 

One key advantage to having an app may be that your fans would be a little less nervous watching you key in their Credit Card number, but maybe there’s a way.

PayPal and Google Checkout, I’d love to see some apps that run with this idea, too. (Google, it seems your own Android OS would be a primary target, eh? I’m hoping all those Google employees who now own G1s are starting to think about their stuff running on the phone.) The advantage of PayPal in particular – which a smart on-the-road merch seller could offer alongside a real terminal like this – is that hipster eBay addicts may already have some cash in those accounts ready to spend.

I also imagine we’ll soon see more netbooks with data plans, which will open up another way to do this. (Radio Shack has a deal with Acer and AT&T that makes the netbook cost almost nothing.) So, perhaps the follow up for this story ought to be a) how do you make some good merch and b) how do these credit card payment plans compare.

I know there are times where I wanted to buy a CD but didn’t have cash handy, so I might use this as a customer.

Found via:

http://twitter.com/artistshouse

… Artists House Music, a great blog/Twitter feed to follow for more on making business work for music.

http://blog.artistshousemusic.org/

Thanks:

http://twitter.com/TomDavenport

  • http://www.yellowwoodmusic.com AMRAyw

    well well… yet another reason to buy an iphone. awesome. dammit.

  • http://www.soilsound.com SOILSOUND

    Another reason indeed! The useful apps just get better and better. The iPhone is definitely one of the best devices I've ever purchased. I'm having fun with the FiRe Field Recorder now. Thanks for the great reviews!

  • http://twitter.com/dmlandrum Darren Landrum

    I can't help but wonder if it might be possible to write the app in such a way as to take a photo of the credit card, do an OCR on the numbers, and then of course promptly delete the pic of the card for security purposes.

    If only the G1 was a decent phone. I almost bought one, expressly because I want to develop for it, but the battery life and processor power issues killed it for me.

  • http://twitter.com/dmlandrum Darren Landrum

    I think I'll mention that there will need to be a confirmation step to make sure the OCR got the number right before sending before someone else comes along and says I left out an obvious piece. :-P

  • http://www.quoico.com RichardL

    > In fact, it sounds as though Apple will indeed — unsurprisingly — replace those Windows Mobile-powered devices with iPhones, says AppleInsider.

    Yea. Unsurprising! Those things suck so much that Apple has been using them as the primary point of sale device in their tremendously successful stores for four years now. They must just blow chunks! Windows Mobile yuck!

    I think you need to take AppleInsider's inside information with a grain of salt.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, the *idea* is right — and customers are always excited when someone can come to them, ring them up, and they don't have to get in line. But I know those devices do have some issues.

    I do take AppleInsider with a grain of salt. You do have to figure, though, this one is a no-brainer. If you didn't read it there, you could guess.

  • http://www.quoico.com RichardL

    Yea. I'm sure they have issues. It's just Prince Dilger McLean (or whatever he's calling himself these days) wants to blame Windows Mobile for Apple's iPhone activation snafu last summer when they introduced the iPhone 3G. It was the servers that were the problem not the credit card terminals.

    Obviously the EasyPay terminals have worked well enough that Apple has been using them since 2005.

    But it is a bit embarrassing for Apple's runaway successful retail stores to be dependent on Windows Mobile-based devices given Apple's anti-Windows marketing posture.

  • http://jordanbalagot.com Jordan314

    This is a great idea.

    The app is actually called Credit Card Terminal. If you search for innerfence you won't find it.

    It looks like there are other apps, including Accept Credit Cards, which is free but you need to have a Merchantware subscription.

  • http://mobileterminalapps.com Rob

    iTouch2Pay also processes credit cards and supports having canadian and U.S. bank accounts and has some good merchant discount rates.

  • http://appninjas.com Bryan

    iSwipe is 20 bucks cheaper, has a nicer interface, and more features. We're really happy with it.

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