The Real Truth About Mobile Credit Card Readers

iZettle with jewellery maker in background

Should you get a mobile credit card reader?

Mobile chip and PIN credit card readers (also known as mPOS devices) like iZettle, WorldPay Zinc, Intuit Pay and Payleven have been around for several years now. Cheap and flexible: they seem like a great idea. But how well do they work in practice? And do UK consumers really trust them yet?

These card readers are much cheaper than traditional credit card machines (click here to compare rates) and smaller and lighter to carry about. You can generally buy them easily without locking yourself into any lengthy contracts. As such, they are potentially good for businesses taking a relatively low volume of card payments.

So a mobile card reader potentially has cost and flexibility benefits. But these benefits won’t count for much if your customers aren’t comfortable paying with the device.

I asked a couple of small businesses who have tried mPOS card readers about their experiences with them. Read on to hear what they had to say…

1. Fire Faerie Designs

Fine Faerie Designs Studio

Fire Faerie Designs is a micro business based in Norwich run by Michelle Reece. Michelle handcrafts unique pieces of jewellery using silver, glass and polymer clay. She’s been running Fire Faerie Designs since 2010 but didn’t start taking payments until August 2013 when she got hold of an iZettle mobile credit card machine.

I asked Michelle about experiences so far with the device:

Michelle ReeceQ. How long have you been using iZettle?

“I started with the old text message system, but customers didn’t like it. Everyone seems to have grasped chip and pin really easily and when iZettle brought out the new machine I immediately bought one.”

Q. Where do you use it?

“On my trade stand and in my studio.”

Q. How are you finding it?

“Brilliant. People have gotten over the whole ‘it’s not secure’ thing. I think Apple advertising card payment on their iPhone ads in 2012 really helped.”

I also asked Michelle about her experience with card processing more generally. Here’s what she had to say.

“As a luxury goods producer I knew card payments would make or break my sales. People don’t carry £50 in their wallets for spontaneous purchases. Since having iZettle I’ve easily doubled my sales on trade stands.

Now the most difficult thing is mobile service, I have lost sales because there’s not enough of a signal to run through iZettle. However I know that’s an issue with the mobile terminals too. I wish more showgrounds had mobile boosters.”

2. Fox Cycling

Fox Cycling is a small business which runs in-person and live online cycling classes from their studio in Portishead. As well as classes, customers in their studio can buy things like tickets for velodrome trips, saddle covers, or gift vouchers for friends.

Fox Cycling currently use iZettle after moving from Intuit Pay.

I asked Fox Cycling’s Angela Reed-Fox about their experiences with payment processing:

Angela Reed-FoxQ. How long have you been running your business and when did you start accepting card payments?

“We incorporated the company in 2013, and started trading in June of that year. We started accepting payments about 6 months later. Previously we pointed customers towards our website which obviously wasn’t ideal when they wanted to give us the money then and there!”

Q. How do you take card payments? (Face-to-face? Over the phone? Online?)

“We take payments in person in the studio or online.”

Q. What is a typical amount that you’d process by card?

“It could be anything from £12.50 for a saddle cover to several hundred pounds for a bike. There is no typical transaction.”

Q. How long have you been using iZettle?

“About 9 months. We have now purchased a second and third machine for two of our people.”

Q. Where do you use it?

“Two of the iZettle machines are used in the studio, one of these, and the third machine is also used by our mobile bike servicing team.”

Q. How are you finding it?

“Much easier than our previous solution. Has a handy ‘cashbox’ feature so if people pay in cash we can log that transaction as well. Also we can load pictures of our products so that the process is quicker through faster product-recognition.

I haven’t heard the chaps getting frustrated with it – as they did with the previous one when it stopped working for no reason.”

Conclusions

In general, mPOS devices seem to be working well for these two businesses. Neither reported any issues with customers not wanting to pay using an unfamiliar sort of device. Fox Cycling did have some reliability issues with an earlier device and and Fire Faerie Designs found a lack of mobile reception a problem in some places. All in all, though, their experiences seem very positive.

Many thanks to Michelle and Angela for taking part in this.

Are you using a mobile chip and PIN machine in your business? If so, how are you finding it? Share your experiences in the comments below.

(Workshop photos by Michelle Reece)

Matt Collins

Matt's the founder of PaymentBrain. He enjoys helping business owners navigate the confusing world of payment processing.

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