VeriFone Holdings Inc. announced today it will begin selling a secure card reader and software called Payware Mobile for Apple Inc.'s iPhone in January at no charge to merchants that sign up for VeriFone's gateway payment service. Slated to ship Jan. 15, VeriFone designed the service to make it simple for merchants, such as small cafes, to begin accepting payment cards, the San Jose, Calif.-based company says. VeriFone will require merchants to use its Payware Mobile payment gateway, which processes transactions through First Data Corp. However, VeriFone can configure a merchant's account to work with other processors, a spokesperson for the terminal maker tells CardLine sister publication ISO&Agent Weekly. Merchants with existing merchant accounts will pay a $15 monthly gateway fee and a one-time $49 sign-up fee. Merchants also pay VeriFone 17 cents per Payware Mobile transaction. VeriFone will direct merchants without existing merchant accounts to a variety of payment processing providers, VeriFone says. VeriFone will sell the product directly and through acquirers and independent sales organizations, which will offer their own pricing. The terminal maker is developing wholesale pricing options "that will be attractive to the [sales] channel," the VeriFone spokesperson tells ISO&Agent Weekly. The card reader, which slips around the phone, encrypts sensitive card data at the swipe, VeriFone says, noting it does not send unencrypted card data through the software on the phone. The software, which will be available through Apple's iTunes App store, also meets the Payment Card Industry Security Council's Payment Application Data Security Standard, the point-of-sale device maker says. Besides the slip-on card reader, the product includes a stylus for cardholders to use to write their signatures on the phone's touchscreen. Customers also can use a finger to sign. The signature-capture capability will enable merchants to process transactions at card-present interchange rates, which are lower than card-not-present rates, VeriFone says. Eventually, the hardware will be available wherever mobile-phone accessories are sold, VeriFone says. Initially, Tasq Technology, a POS-equipment distributor owned by Atlanta-based First Data, will distribute Payware Mobile. VeriFone says it is developing other versions of the software for use with other smartphone operating systems, including Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Google Inc.'s Android, and it should have those versions available by early spring. "We haven't decided yet whether we're going to create hardware for those devices," the spokesperson says. "The iPhone presents one standard platform. That's not the situation with the other operating systems."