Punchey's tossing its hat into the mobile payments ring with a mix of mobile card acceptance, social network-driven marketing and other services designed for merchants that handle larger payments.

The Boston-based company came out of its private beta today. During 10 months of testing, Punchey worked with 500 businesses and handled more than 50,000 payments, totaling more than $25 million. The company's services include a Facebook marketing feature that allows merchants to build networks of followers to drive special offers.

"When you add payments into these marketing tools, they really become more targeted and relevant," says Punchey founder and CEO Nate Stevens. "If a small business can keep constant contact with their consumers it also improves the data."

Punchey distributes mobile card readers that plug into audio jacks, USB ports and other attachments for smartphones or tablets. These readers transmit card data to Punchey, which accepts and processes payments.

Punchey also offers a dashboard that merchants can access to track payments, and CRM tools such as reputation management, reviews and email marketing.  The addition of social network data keeps the marketing information fresh, Stevens says.

"Customer databases can become stale over time and become more of a sprawling contact list with current and former customers with no relevance," Stevens says.

Punchey charges 0.75 % per transaction, plus interchange fees and a $0.10 fee that banks charge to connect to card networks. Square's standard rate is 2.75% and PayPal's is 2.7% for swiped card payments, for example, though Square also offers a flat monthly rate of $275 and PayPal is currently waiving its fees as part of a promotion.

Punchey charges $19.95 for its mobile card readers, and will give them away for free to the first 1,000 new merchants to sign up. By comparison, Square's basic card reader is free (it charges $299 for its larger Square Stand), and the PayPal Here card reader is free.

Punchey's fee structure is designed for merchants that handle larger purchase amounts. A $100 debit charge would cost $1.24 to process, for example, Punchey says. 

"For transactions that are $50 and over you can save with Punchey, and that can add up for businesses that are taking transaction that are larger," Stevens says.

Other companies also combine CRM and marketing with merchant services and mobile payments acceptance. Corduro, for example, is building a social network that enables its merchant clients to base rewards on the impact each consumer has on the company's social network—the more followers the consumer brings in, the larger the reward.

Several other companies are aggressively updating their mobile-payments strategy. LevelUp, which offers free processing and charges for an attached loyalty program, is upgrading its mobile payment technology to attract more merchants. ShopKeep POS is attempting to lure merchants by adding personnel and inventory management. Leaf has added cameras and extra bar-code readers to its payments-specific tablet.

Other companies such as Koupah and ZooZ support direct advertising on mobile point of sale systems.

Since Punchey is managing the user interface for merchant acceptance, it can also financially benefit from the payments data, says Richard Crone, a payments consultant.  

"Punchey is not about the payments, they are about the value-added services that surround the payment for the merchant, such as loyalty and other services that are triggered from the payment account information," Crone says. "Loyalty and offers and other merchant services are all triggered from the payment account information, which is the CRM trigger. Every time a customer uses a credit card with a Punchey merchant, the merchant is harvesting those payment credentials for an enrolled user base that Punchey manages on the merchant's behalf."

Punchey is not charging for marketing, though that may change.

"Punchey charges no additional fees right now for its additional marketing features," Stevens says. "We will be looking to earn revenue from these campaigns and advertising in the future."

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