Payleven has elbowed its way into the crowded mobile card-reader device playing field by offering a chip-and-PIN reader that will first debut in Europe near the end of October.

Payleven, with offices in London and Berlin, touts itself as the first provider of a chip-and-PIN device that can link via Bluetooth to Apple Inc. iOS smartphones or tablets and Google Inc. Android handsets and devices.

MPowa Inc., another London-based mobile card reader provider, made a similar claim last summer when it expanded into the U.S. market, noting in Europe it offered a chip-and-PIN mobile reader, a feature lacking on current mobile card readers in the U.S. 

Payleven did not indicate if it intends to follow mPowa into the U.S. market, where demand for a chip-and-PIN card reader could increase dramatically in the coming years as the country converts to EMV smart card technology. EMV cards are commonly called chip-and-PIN because they are often used with a PIN code.

For now, Payleven appears pleased to provide a technology that processors and card brands mandate in Europe.

Providing a chip-and-PIN mobile card reader for the European market allows Payleven to avoid the woes iZettle AB encountered in August. Visa Europe said iZettle could not process Visa transactions in parts of Europe because its card reader did not accept chip-and-PIN payments, a Visa Europe standard. 

Payleven also manufactures a reader for magnetic-stripe cards in which customers completes a transaction by signing their names with a finger on the mobile phone's screen. The chip-and-PIN device works essentially the same, except the users input a PIN on the device.

"With chip and PIN, we have developed an optimal solution for mobile payments,” Payleven co-founder and chief technology officer Rafael Otero stated in an Oct. 4 press release. “This marks the next step towards our goal of enabling small businesses to accept card payments easily and everywhere.”

Merchants can register for the device on the Payleven website starting Oct. 15 and the first devices will ship shortly thereafter, the company stated.

Merchants can download the free Payleven application at the Apple App Store or Google Play. The company’s only fees are 2.95% of each transaction, plus an extra 7 pence (11 cents U.S.) for MasterCard or Diner’s Club transactions. Payleven provides free card readers.

Payleven provides merchants with transaction histories, refund accounts and the capability of sending customer receipts via e-mail. The Payleven devices meet all industry requirements and comply with the Payment Card Industry security standards, the company said.

The growing number of mobile card readers can be traced to the popularity of one of the originals in the U.S., says Zil Bareisis, a London-based senior analyst for research firm Celent.

“Square seems to have opened the eyes of many to the potential in this market, which has since been flooded with similar offerings,” Bareisis says. “Only time will tell if the market is big enough to profitably sustain all the new players.”

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