The mPowa dongle which turns a smartphone into a card payment machine, similar to technology which has been in use in the US for a while now, is coming to the UK this year.
The dongle will connect to your smartphone through the headphone jack and works with a free app available for iOS, Android and BlackBerry. The reader is also free though there is a transaction fee of 25p or 0.25 per cent (whichever is the greater amount).
Businesses will be able to SMS or email receipts to customers, track the location of all card payments and cheque transactions and avoid monthly fees or contracts. The reader can read both debit and credit cards. mPowa is rated as PCI tier 1 compliant in terms of security - which puts it at the same level as a bank site. The locations of all transactions are also recorded to help prevent fraud.
The dongle will allow for a more flexible work set-up especially for small businesses and one area where it could come in very handy is for fast food deliveries where you no longer need to call out your card number over the phone.
While NFC is touted as the technology which will eventually replace your wallet, the slow take up of NFC by both smartphone manufacturers and retailers means mPowa could be a successful stopgap for the next few years.