Kudos offers small businesses a new mobile payment
by Alan Zisman (c) 2012
published in Business in
Vancouver January 24-30, 2012; issue 1161 High Tech
As close as we might seem to being a cashless society, many smaller
businesses have been left on the sidelines, either because they haven’t
generated enough sales to make it worthwhile to set up an account to
process credit and debit cards or because their business is on the
street or on the go, making it difficult to validate cards.
Dan McCann, president of Regina-based NetSecure Technologies, said
everyone in Canada, from taxi drivers and electricians to craft
merchants and caterers, is looking to accept payments using mobile
Last year, Square,
an iPhone and Android app, allowed many of those “micro-merchants” to
accept plastic. The app is paired with a small, square device that
plugs into the smartphone headphone jack and allows registered users to
swipe credit cards to accept payments. Square, however, isn’t available
Last fall, NetSecure premiered a similar service, Kudos, for both
Canadian and U.S. customers (www.kudospayments.ca). Like Square, it consists of
an app and card-swipe device. Unlike Square, Kudos offers a BlackBerry
app along with apps for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.
And while Square’s card-swipe gadget is free (to registered accounts),
Kudos charges $99 for the company’s somewhat larger device. (You can
use the app to accept payments without the card swipe device as long as
you’re prepared to manually enter card information.)
The company also offers a USB-based device that can be used with
Windows desktop or laptop computers. (Mac support is promised.) Both
desktop and mobile devices can be used with a single account.
Linda Read is a silversmith (and – full disclosure – my wife: www.lindareadjewelry.ca)
who participates in the popular Eastside Culture Crawl every November.
Each year, customers have been disappointed that she was unable to
accept credit cards, but with the bulk of her sales happening over the
three days of the Crawl, the monthly fees charged by traditional credit
card services made that impractical.
This year, she set up a Kudos account, submitting a four-page
application a week prior to the event. The result: this year, she was
able to accept payments on an iPad at her studio from customers with
Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express cards. (No Interac
debit, but Kudos hopes this is coming.)
The service is available anywhere there’s an Internet connection,
whether WiFi or mobile data. Using the online connection, credit cards
are validated immediately and receipts are optionally emailed to
customers or printed (assuming availability of a wireless printer).
Kudos promises that transaction information is encrypted and secure
from the moment a card is swiped.
If no Internet connection is available, credit cards can still be
accepted; in that case, the app stores transactions until it can go
online, though Kudos notes that in that case, it is unable to validate
cards at the time of sale.
Because the bulk of Read’s annual sales are made during the month
before Christmas, she’s pleased that there are no monthly fees. Kudos
charges 2.9% plus $0.20 per transaction. Payment was received at her
bank within two business days.
Read found the Kudos app straightforward and easy to use. Customers
were surprised that she could accept cards and found the process of
signing with their finger on her tablet screen amusing.
Kudos is not alone in offering mobile payment services to Canadian
micro-merchants. Payfirma (www.payfirma.com) offers a similar combination of
account, app and card swipe device.
Well-known financial software developer Intuit (makers of Quicken,
QuickBooks and TurboTax) is planning a Canadian launch of its
(currently U.S.-only) iPhone/iPad-only GoPayment service.
As a result, 2012 will allow Canadian small businesses a variety of
ways to use mobile devices to accept payments. Said Kudos’ McCann,
“Small businesses that were once unable to provide a credit card option
now have a quick and affordable way to meet customer needs.”