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Heartland Payment Systems looks to mobile

The payment processor launches a system that allows merchants to use their smartphones or tablets to act as a portable point-of-sale terminal.

Heartland Payment Systems, which processes payments across the country, is the latest company to jump on the mobile-payment bandwagon.

Heartland Payment Systems

The Princeton, N.J.-based company said today that it was launching a system to allow merchants to accept payments through smartphones and tablets, similar to Square or Verifone. The system, called Mobuyle, includes an Android application and an encrypting reader that plugs into the device's audio hack, allowing stores to expand the number of point-of-sale terminals on the fly.

Heartland is one of many to be lured in by the opportunities that are emerging from the mobile-payments area. While many, such as Google and the wireless carriers, are focusing on how the consumers pay for transactions with their phones, Heartland is focusing on the merchant side.

The system is ideal for merchants who faces large lines and have a limited number of checkout counters. Employees can pick up one of the systems and begin processing purchases for customers in line. The merchant can email the receipt to the customer once it processes the transaction.

Also unlike the other players, Heartland is going at this alone. Larger payment processors such as First Data have opted to partner with the likes of Google. Verifone, which competes against Heartland on the point-of-sale readers, has also partnered with a number of mobile payment alliances.

Heartland, which calls itself the fifth-largest payments processor in the U.S. and also has offices in Canada, sees its independence as an advantage, as it took the time to develop the system and ensure its security, according to a company representative.

Heartland said that under its Mobuyle system, merchants pay rates that are comparable to traditional card processing. It added that merchants save money by working with Heartland directly and bypassing third-party provider fees.

Heartland is starting out with Android first but plans to release applications for iOS devices. It will focus on the retail environment, but plans to expand into restaurants later. The company also has plans to use near-field communications technology, which powers the tap-and-go payment systems found in some credit cards and phones, down the line.