Blackstone Merchant Services LLC, a Miami independent sales organization, has developed point of sale terminal software for Apple Inc.'s iPhone that enables the devices to capture signatures.

Cardholders use a finger to sign the receipt, which the company then e-mails to them. The software sells for $19.99 through Apple's iTunes store. Merchants do not have to have a Blackstone merchant account to use the application, but they must have an account with Authorize.Net, an online payment gateway owned by CyberSource Corp.

Though Blackstone would not disclose the merchant rate for transactions made with the software, it said the cost is "equivalent to Internet-based transactions."

Wells Fargo & Co.'s merchant processing unit lists a discount rate of 2.4% of the sale for online credit card transactions. Discount rates include interchange and processor fees.

Janet Sancho, Blackstone's senior vice president of sales, said the signature-capture function can help merchants counter chargebacks.

"A signatureless transaction leaves a merchant exposed to possible chargebacks for up to six months after a transaction," Sancho said. "Merchants must present a copy of the signed receipt to easily dispute these chargebacks to avoid losses. Most Internet-based transactions do not allow for the possibility of obtaining a signature."

The software uses address-verification services and card-verification value codes found on payment cards as further security measures, Sancho said.

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