Bank of America is launching a Square-like card-swiping device for smartphones called Mobile Pay on Demand. The service will be marketed through B of A's Atlanta-based joint venture with First Data, Bank of America Merchant Services.
Like others looking to appeal to casual card acceptors and small businesses with digital payment aspirations, B of A's Mobile Pay on Demand will hinge on a dongle.
The free card reader will give B of A yet another tool to market to potential customers.
Bank of America Merchant Services will also provide 24-hour support for the device. Mobile Pay on Demand readers will start accepting payments on Dec. 3, says Bank of America Merchant Services' chief executive Tom Bell.
As a part of the pitch the banking giant will make to small businesses, funds from the mobile payment service can be deposited into a B of A account as soon as the next day.
Pricing looks standard to that of other mobile card readers on the market -- 2.7% per swipe, and 3.5% plus an additional 15 cents for keyed Visa, MasterCard and Discover transactions. Users will also be able to accept American Express cards.
There are no monthly, annual or set-up fees.
First Data, the bank's partner in Bank of America Merchant Services, already offers a similar card reader.
The Mobile Pay device plugs into an Android, BlackBerry or iPhone and is also paired with a smartphone app.
"You know everybody wants a piece of that right now," says Brian Riley, a senior research director in the retail banking and cards practice at CEB Towergroup. "Everybody is playing in that field because it's potentially a high-yield area."
Other banks have already made similar moves of their own.
Just last week, VeriFone said it was partnering with Fujitsu to market its GlobalBay software that works with tablets and other mobile devices to extend the point of sale software maker's systems. That pact is targeted more at large, big box merchants than casual card acceptors.
And the terminal maker is now marketing a chip and PIN card accepting Sail card reader.
In August, with the backing of JPMorgan Chase (JPM), GoPago of San Francisco began providing merchants with its Live system featuring a free Android tablet and card reader attachment.
Indeed, at first blush, B of A's attempt at mobile payments looks much like others that have quickly followed Square's lead.
In May, VeriFone Systems (PAY) launched its Sail mobile card reader that developers can adapt with open-source software.
At the time, the terminal maker was still selling its PayWare Mobile card reader that was designed to be used off the shelf.
And, in March, PayPal announced its mobile payment strategy, PayPal Here. The smartphone software accepts payments both through a dongle and by camera.
More recently, British mobile payment company mPowa began marketing its own brand of dongles to banks so that they can white-label the product and call it their own. In July, Square took issue with the unit of Powa, which operates an e-commerce platform, over some of its marketing.