Intuit Debuts New Card Swiper, Takes Its Mobile Payment Service to Canada

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It's shaped like a chubby cork, covered in slate-colored rubber, and connects to mobile devices through--of all things--a headphone jack. But for small businesses, the best thing about Intuit's new credit card swipe attachment may be that it won't cost them a dime, at least not for the hardware alone.

Intuit says it will send the card swiper for free to new customers of its GoPayment mobile payment service, which empowers small businesses to accept credit card payments on mobile devices running a GoPayment app. No contract commitment is required.

Intuit makes money on the service by collecting a card-swipe fee of 2.7 percent of the purchase price (the fee rises to 3.7 percent if you don't actually use the swiper but manually key in the credit card info). High-volume users can opt to pay a monthly fee of $12.95 to get lower swipe rates of 1.7 percent (2.7 percent for keyed-in transactions).

Intuit also said it plans a global rollout for GoPayment, starting with service in Canada "in early 2012," according to a news release. Canadian customers will also get the new card swiper, which replaces a previous model that worked on a couple of dozen Android, Blackberry and iOS devices. The news release says the new swiper is for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Intuit faces significant competition in the mobile payments arena, most notably from Square, which offers similar service and basically forced Intuit to change its original pricing scheme (which included a monthly fee for all customers). Right now, Intuit's 2.7 percent swipe fee is a hair lower than Square's advertised 2.75 percent fee.

Intuit previously offered a different card swiper, but says the new one is easier to use and more reliable.

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