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Matthew Ahrenstein

DevOps Engineer for an amazing company, hiker, amateur radio operator, target shooter, and developer.

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What!?! Another Platform Wars? Yes, you are correct! I’m running out of movie titles to reference though. This time, I will be discussing mobile payments. In particular I will be covering how the every day average consumer can accept a credit card as payment. There are three platforms I’m going to discuss in this review: Square by Square, SAILPay by VeriFone, and PayPal Here by PayPal. I will be covering security, ease of use, and customizability. I will touch on customer service, but since I’ve yet to have a real problem this will be brief.

On the topic of security, I’ll be looking at app security, and device security. Security regarding client data is already a given with all three platforms due to federal laws, and regulations, so I won’t be covering that. Let’s get started.

VeriFone’s SAILPay app has decent security. Every time you launch the app you are required to type in a 4 digit pin number. I actually find this quite annoying as my phone has a passcode, and I feel that, in combination with Find My iPhone’s remote wipe feature is enough security. If this feature were able to be disabled, then it would a plus, but right now I feel it is a negative. As far as the device itself goes, the device uses encryption to pass the data between itself and the app. This helps cut down on automatic skimming of credit cards. With a mobile phone being a card processor, it’d be rather difficult to walk off with a card to process it, and write down the card info, so this is definitely a plus.

Square’s Square allows you to sign into the app, and stay signed in. On the iPad version of the app, a PIN can be set to be required for editing settings, but it won’t be required every time you open the app. This balances security and functionality, and I think this is a plus. As far as the device goes, Square’s initial two models did not have encryption, but the current generation does. If you have an older model, you can request a new one from Square for free.

PayPal Here:
PayPal is well known for their security. The PayPal Here app requires you to login every time you need to use it. You can use your phone number + a pin number to have some convenience if you have a strong password for the desktop site.

Ease of Use:
This is going to be short. All three services have easy to use apps, and easy to use websites. I’m mostly going to cover the device in this case.

The VeriFone SAILPay is where I had the problem. This device had two major problems with it. The first is a design flaw. If your iPhone has a case on it like an Otterbox, or a Mophie Juice Pack, then the device will not fit on your phone until you take your case off. This is something I find extremely annoying, and is pretty much a deal breaker in real world use.

SAILPay won’t fit on my cased iPhone

This is just something they will have to fix. That back plastic piece is pointless, and does not house any electronics. It also makes the device bigger, and many people may prefer one of the smaller readers. Another usability issue with SAILPay is that it took me 7 swipes to finally get it to read my card. This is just unacceptable as it looks unprofessional, and as taking credit cards on your phone is still new to a lot of people, the customer might start to think you were up to no good. The device needs to be redesigned.

Square is small, compact, and works the first time you swipe it. I’ve actually been a user of Square since they first started. The original reader had a lot of swipe issues, but the second, and third iterations work just fine. Like I mentioned above, if you have an older Square, or you just need a new one, you can sign on to the website and request a new one for free. Another plus for the Square is that it works even in a thick case. Since a mobile payment processor means you are most likely out in the field, being able to keep your protective case on is a total plus.

Square fits on my cased iPhone

PayPal Here:
The PayPal Here is designed a little smarter than the VeriFone SAILPay because unlike the SAILPay, it has no ridiculous fin on it. However, the PayPal Here still doesn’t fit inside the headphone jack all the way when my case is on my iPhone. This is the same serious flaw I discussed above, and makes me very less inclined to use it.

Since the device itself isn’t something you can customize, I’m going to talk about the customizability of the customer’s experience.

SAILPay is by far the best at customizability. You can customize the receipt that gets sent to your customer’s e-mail in a multitude of ways. You can put a DBA (Doing Business As) instead of your legal entity’s name on the receipt for branding purposes. You can also put your website, and little logos of Twitter, Facebook, and FourSquare linking to your profile on each service. This really helps grow your brand identity and I think the other two services should adopt this idea. Major points to VeriFone for this one.

Square doesn’t really have much in the ways of customization of the receipt, but you can do something else with Square that is amazing. You can create a Registry for Square, and customers that have the Square app can “open a tab” at your business, and buy items, then on their way out they can just say “put it on (name of customer)” and the cashier can close your tab, and you are charged. No handling of credit cards is needed. You can even mark your business as mobile, and if you have the app open then wherever you are is where people can open tabs. This could be useful for hotdog trucks, or if a business opens a booth at a fair.

PayPal Here:
The PayPal Here was a pain in the ass to get to work. The app crashed, and froze a lot on me, but when I finally got it to work I couldn’t find much in the ways of customizability. PayPal has something similar to Square’s business directory, but I haven’t been able to get it to work, so I can’t really comment on it. This is points against PayPal though due to more app issues.

Customer Service:
For customer service, I will be covering how long it takes to get your money sent to you, and dealing with customer service representatives.

VeriFone has pretty good customer service. I’ve had good luck with their support over twitter, and e-mail. I’ve yet to have to speak to a customer service rep on the phone, which means they never did something outrageous. SAILPay does take two to three business days for a deposit to occur. This isn’t that bad considering other services, but Square does have them beat. Square normally takes a single business day.

Square has great customer service. I’ve only had to ask for some simple things such as changing my account from a personal account to a business account, and for some help with a new feature. They are also more than willing to send you a new reader whenever you lose/break yours as long as you don’t abuse the privilege. Square also deposits payments the next business day. Of course this has been my experience, but I also don’t use Square for a lot of payments as my primary job doesn’t involve interacting with customers. I just use it for some side work once in a while. If you move a lot of money through Square, you may see a delay, until the volume of money becomes your norm. This is to prevent fraud.

PayPal Here:
I have had nothing but problems with PayPal. This is going further back than the PayPal Here, but it seems to have come over to this new service as well. I’ve had to call customer service several times due to delayed, or held payments. They have never provided me with a good reason for the delay either. Some of the reasons are total nonsense, like “You aren’t established on eBay” Perhaps I don’t use eBay, but want to take credit cards. PayPal has made it a real fight to get your money from them, and I can never understand the customer service rep either. They either speak too low, or they are outsourced to a company in another country where the accent is way thicker than the usual outsource rep. These issues alone are enough to keep me away from this service.

Final Decision:
Due to the poor design of the VeriFone SAILPay device, and the lack of a customizable receipt on Square, these two services come pretty close together. Square does however currently have an Android app, as well as the “open tabs” feature, so that pushes them over the edge. PayPal’s PayPal Here however, I just can’t recommend. The app crashes, and locks up a lot, and the device doesn’t fit on the phone when I have a case on it. Also the customer service of PayPal, and the run around they give you is not worth the hassle. I can put up with poor support, and poor customer service, but not when it comes to someone who handles my money. Here’s the final breakdown:

Top Choice:
I highly recommend Square, and if you want to grow your business, or even just be able to collect money from that friend who always has a reason not to have cash, then Square is your company of choice.

Second Choice:
VeriFone’s SAILPay shows promise, and the custom receipt with social networking links is definitely a plus. If social branding is a big part of your business, or you want it to be then you should use VeriFone. I do hope that the other services add this feature though

Last Choice:
I really can’t recommend PayPal Here due to the horrible customer service PayPal provides. The fact that they place random holds on your account also really hurts their rating since people should have access to their own money. I do say “random holds” because 5 out of the 7 times I had my money put on hold they refused to give me a reason. The other 2 times they told me that they delay giving you your money if you aren’t an established eBay seller. I find that ridiculous since the two payments had nothing to do with eBay.