Flint Mobile is joining the many technology companies that are evolving from their roots as payment providers to become enablers of a broad range of services.
As it diversifies, Flint is sticking to its strategy of handling card payments without requiring add-on hardware. This approach helps it appeal to merchants that don't have much tech expertise and want to accept payments with the tools they have on hand. Its new product, called App2App Connect, furthers this strategy by letting merchants add a "take payment" button to their apps with minimal coding.
"Developers are becoming an important community for us," said Greg Goldfarb, Flint's CEO. "For many businesses, 'getting paid' is part of the software workflow, so you want integration and user experience to be easy."
App2App Connect is designed for applications that help small- to medium-sized business manage non-payment tasks. Flint also hopes to take advantage of an expanding market for mobile business services apps, while positioning mobile payments as just one component of a broader business suite.
"There are all of these apps for business out there, such as CRM or apps to manage appointments, sale orders, jobs that are now becoming mobile apps," Goldfarb said. "We want to make it easy to insert a payment button to close a loop for them."
Other companies such as vCita and MoonClerk also offer streamlined payments integration to developers, while other companies that serve this market including PayPal, Stripe and WePay are bolstering their mix of payments and merchant services.
In many ways, mobile point of sale companies are better off approaching business software companies than trying to convince merchants to adopt mobile payments, said Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst and consultant at Double Diamond Payments Research, adding the payments API market is a vibrant and growing market, but highly competitive with major players like Stripe and PayPal's Braintree, making it tough to win.
"Unless they are software companies, small businesses aren't doing their own development work, they are outsourcing that," he said. "And small businesses need things done quickly and inexpensively so developer solutions that enable quick-to-market solutions are in strong demand."
App developers enroll online to receive a partner ID, URL/Intent code and a co-branded account activation wizard (a custom URL is used for iOS apps and Intents are used for Android apps). Integration is handled by adding a code snippet that passes customer order data between the business app and the Flint app running on the same device. The "take payment" button allows transaction information to be populated into the Flint app for card capture, processing and receipts invoice or coupon.
App2App Connect also provides access to other mobile features, including invoicing, couponing and integration of payment data with QuickBooks Online.
"What we do is complementary to these other services and not competitive," Goldfarb said. App2App Connect is free. Flint's transaction fees are 1.95% for debit card payments and 2.95% for credit card transactions.
Flint relies on low-touch technology as a pitch to small, mostly service-oriented businesses. It does not use hardware, instead relying on mobile phone cameras to scan card details. The move to include Flint payments as part of a broad bundle of services fits with its mission to serve companies that don't have technical staff, Goldfarb said.
"If you're a tax business or a fitness trainer or a plumber, you don't want to reenter data over and over," Goldfarb said. "You want to be able to do everything in one place."
Flint is still approaching merchants directly, and considers App2App an additional avenue to extend its technology. "We have always been partner-friendly and in this case it's application providers," Goldfarb said.