A California entrepreneur has developed a card-acceptance application for Apple Inc.'s iPhone, underscoring the rapid emergence of smartphones as mobile financial tools.
Randy Palermo, a Tustin, Calif., software developer who does business as Rapadev LLC, said Tuesday that he has submitted his software application, called ProcessAway, to Apple for review.
He estimated that the review process could take up to a week, after which the application could be offered through the Cupertino, Calif., company's AppStore.
"This is something I decided to throw together, because I could see there's a big need for it," said Mr. Palermo, who has no background in payments or banking. He said he relied on a developer kit provided by the Authorize.Net gateway, an online payment system for small merchants operated by CyberSource Corp., a Mountain View, Calif., payment processor.
The ProcessAway software will cost $19.99. A free version, called ProcessLite, will offer the same features and functions but limit charges to a maximum of $5 per transaction, Mr. Palermo said.
He said he expects people will use the software to accept card payments at swap meets, street fairs, and antique shows, and it could also be used, for example, by mobile auto detailing experts, on-site consultants, or handymen.
To accept payments through their phones, merchants must manually input the customers' card numbers, expiration dates, and the transaction amounts. "If there are any entry errors, the system won't authorize it," Mr. Palermo said.
He said the iPhone has a serial communications port, but cables to connect it to external devices are currently not available. He speculated that Apple expects the phones will eventually be able to work with peripheral devices, such as a plug-in card reader.
Authorize.Net treats iPhone transactions like other card-not-present online sales, so there is no limit on transaction amounts, Mr. Palermo said. The advantage of card-reader support is that "with a card reader you get better rates."
He said an updated version of his software is expected soon that would enable iPhones to store transaction data, though not card data, so merchants would not need to re-enter data for returning customers or recurring product sales.
The emergence of independent developers of such applications could accelerate the evolution of mobile payments.
Visa Inc. said last month when it introduced its Visa Mobile application for Google Inc.'s Android operating system that mobile card acceptance was on Visa's road map, though other mobile commerce tools would be available first.
Likewise, eBay Inc.'s PayPal unit has renewed its interest in mobile payments, as smartphones such as the iPhone and Android emphasize the data processing capabilities of mobile handsets.