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Cell phones now ‘sell’ phones

AT&T is now offering software that can turn a mobile phone into a mobile credit card machine.

Last week AT&T announced its new offering of AprivaPay applications, which can “turn your cell phone into a sell phone.”

The company is marketing the software as a tool that will allow small business owners to increase cash flow and enhance productivity.

AT&T Mississippi spokesperson Sue Sperry said the company does not yet have any AprivaPay customers in Mississippi.

It opens the doors for a lot of Mississippi businessmen — such as landscapers, delivery services, farmers market vendors, HVAC workers, plumbers and others — to get paid right away, which increases cash flow, said Sue Sperry, company spokesperson. “In all cases, AT&T’s goal is to enable businesses to innovate and grow by streamlining the business process related to receiving payment for services rendered.”

With AprivaPay, vendors can input a customer’s credit card information directly into their cell phones for processing. Users must also set up a merchant account, a type of bank account that allows businesses to accept payments by debit or credit cards.

The applications work with Blackberry and iPhone in addition to other brands, AT&T said, and cost between $15 and $20 per month.

Researchers estimate that by 2014, the worldwide mobile payments market may be worth more than $600 billion.

Sprint is another wireless carrier that offers a mobile payment option. In 2009, the company began offering GoPayment from Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks, which also gives small businesses opportunity to securely process credit payments using their mobile phones. While initially exclusive to Sprint, GoPayment is now on all mobile devices.

According to an Intuit survey, the nation’s 22 million smallest businesses are waiting for approximately $1,500 in overdue payments each month, creating a collective $33 billion strain on their cash flow.

While Cellular South doesn’t have any immediate plans to offer any exclusive smartphone credit card payment services over its network, the carrier encourages its Android phone customers to take advantage of a free Google software extension, which performs a somewhat similar function.

Google’s Android Payment Chrome Extension allows Android phone user to process payment through their phones in conjunction with a merchant’s Google Checkout web store.

Android is Google’s operating system for mobile devices.

“The great thing about the Google extension is it doesn’t cost anything. We’re dedicated to becoming the Android leader in the industry,” said David Miller, Cellular South public relations manager.

Through this service, the merchant creates a Google Checkout web store on a laptop computer. The store will generate a bar code, which Android phone users can then scan via a barcode scanner app on their cell phone to checkout.

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