Taking card payments – my iZettle first experience

I’ve got an iZettle machine.

I thought it was about time Richard and I could take card payments as well as cash when we show our photographs at markets and exhibitions. I’d always assumed this would be difficult and expensive, way too much for an impoverished struggling artist, but I bought some artisan-baked bread recently from a hipster with a stall at the train station and I didn’t have any money. He said he took cards. He had this little blue gadget that plugged into his phone. That’s clever. It’s an iZettle reader, he told me when I quizzed him.

I then heard about a PayPal equivalent, which I looked into, but I didn’t like the sound of PayPal. They’re big and scary and lock you in. I found some comparison reviews and iZettle got the vote. I signed up and ordered the iZettle Reader Lite. This is about £30, or completely free if you register as a business instead of an individual. This is an option you get during sign-up. It doesn’t explain what the difference is. I can’t imagine why an individual would want a card payment solution unless they were running a business. Anyway, I signed up as a business (“Sole Trader”) so the reader comes free.

The registration process is quick and easy. I even thought I’d made a mistake and emailed them for help and got a fairly quick reply from a real person, so that’s good. The account model is simple and not scary like PayPal’s. They take the payment, then pay the money to your bank account after a couple of days. You just give them your bank details. I like the straightforwardness of it.

I also had to buy a new smartphone. My old phone wasn’t at all smart and Joy’s old smartphone wasn’t recent enough to work (you need an iPhone or an Android phone with at least Android 4.something). They have a list of compatible models on their site. I took a risk and bought a model that wasn’t listed as compatible but they have so many Samsung models tested I thought a brand new Samsung Galaxy A3 would be good enough. That cost me £150, not cheap. The Lite card reader connects via a headphone socket, while the more expensive iZettle readers use Bluetooth.

The new phone arrived next day, the card reader the day after. The reader is small and neat and surprisingly weighty, though not inconveniently. It’s also refreshingly simple. It has a a numeric keypad and slots for card reading or swiping and that’s it. No on/off switch, no screen. I like it. It’s simplicity is reassuring.

I plug it in to charge and immediately connect it to the phone, on which I had downloaded the iZettle app. The app had worked first try and was very simple. It didn’t need any configuring or any kind of fiddling with, it just worked. As soon as you plug the reader in to the headphone socket the app can see it.

The first question was how to test it? The help documentation doesn’t say anything about this. I could have tried paying myself from my own debit card but didn’t. So the first real test was at the market the next day.

Finally, we make a sale and the customer wants to pay by card. Turn the phone on, run the app, plug in the reader. Enter the sale amount and press the “pay by card” button on the app. Hand the reader to the customer, she puts her card in and enters her pin. After a short wait, no more than usual, the payment is confirmed. All perfectly easy and fuss free. It also lets the customer put in an email address and they’ll get a receipt emailed to them. Note, when you look at this on your account later you can’t see the customer’s full email address, which I think is a good thing privacy-wise for the customer. You don’t really have any business knowing this, it isn’t an excuse to harvest email addresses for your own spamming purposes.

A few days later and the payment is in my bank, minus the 2.75% charge that iZettle take.

You get a nice view of your account on their web site, showing useful information about the transactions (including geo-tracking them).

All in all, simple, fuss-free, worked perfectly. Whether it will increase sales is hard to say but we’re planning to do some shows where there isn’t a handy cash machine round the corner, so an absolute necessity for those, I think.

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