Heartland Payment Systems Inc. continued its mobile payment advancement, recently taking its Mobuyle card reader and software to Apple Inc. iOS mobile devices.

The Princeton, N.J.-based payments processor plans on spreading Mobuyle’s wings to new markets, banking on its advanced encryption security system to be a critical selling point, says Mike English, executive director of product development for Heartland.

Mobuyle has potential in the lodging industry, on college campuses, within a digital coupon system, within an employee payroll application, or for use in the K through 12 school lunch programs, he says. It is currently marketed at the retail merchant and restaurant industries.

Mobuyle's security system was foremost in the mind of Heartland executives when it was developed, says English. Mobuyle converts payment data into random characters through advanced encryption from the moment the card is swiped until the transaction process is completed.

“The trick to mobile payment is to do it securely, and we believe the advanced encryption system is 10 times more secure” than other options used today, English says.

After Heartland suffered a massive data breach in 2008, it has “done a nice job getting into the whole advanced encryption service” for data security, says Brian Riley, senior research director and analyst with Needham, Mass.-based CEB TowerGroup.

“They should push it everywhere they can because companies that just sit [on their current business model] have some potential risk,” Riley says.

Heartland needs to be a payments processor that continues to evaluate which technologies or business partnerships can help it elevate services, Riley adds.

“Otherwise, they become a one-trick pony in the wide circus of payments,” Riley says.

In March, Heartland revealed its Mobuyle software would operate on Apple iOS mobile devices for retail merchants. The payments processor had previously developed Mobuyle to work only on Google Inc. Android devices, but company executives admitted that customer feedback was surprising in its support for use of Apple products.

Two months later, Heartland announced a version of Mobuyle tailored for the restaurant sector, setting the stage for restaurant employees to accept payments at the tables, curbside, or when catering or delivering orders to customers. 

Heartland’s Oct. 9 announcement of the Apple device capabilities further expands options for restaurant owners who use Heartland to process payments.

Heartland merchants can download the free Mobuyle application from Apple’s App Store and purchase the Mobuyle card reader from Heartland. Merchants can plug the reader into the audio jack of Apple iPhones, iPads or an iPod Touch to swipe customer credit, debit or prepaid cards.

The system continues to operate even if the restaurant employee is out of range of cellular coverage or without WiFi access. The full terminal capability provided through Mobuyle stays intact through a function that stores and forwards the encrypted transaction data for authorization and processing. The data storage feature allows restaurant owners to avoid paying a higher card-not-present fee when making food deliveries.

The restaurant employee needs only to set a parameter on the Mobuyle application to accept payments out of network range. The application then automatically forwards the data once the employee has the phone and reader back in network range, English says.

Mobuyle also offers restaurant customers the option to add a tip to their payment before digitally signing the receipt before it is printed or e-mailed. It is a feature that is critical for restaurant owners to have in a mobile card reader and application, and it may be lacking in those designed for broader retail settings, English says.

“The restaurant owner can pick from three different percentages of tips to offer to customers through the application, or the customer can pick the ‘other’ option to enter a specific dollar amount,” English says.

The Mobuyle card reader currently continues to accept only magnetic-stripe cards, but Heartland is developing one that will add a reader for EMV smart cards, with a chip-and-PIN or chip-and-signature capability, he says.

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