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Sunday, February 03, 2013, 12:38 am PT (03:38 am ET)

Flint mobile payment system replaces card readers with iPhone's camera

Mobile payment solutions company Flint looks to take on established names in the segment with its new app, which eschews magnetic card readers for a unique camera-based image-recognition system.

Flint


Flint (AppStore) is taking on the bigger players in the mobile payment market with a new credit card payment product that doesn't rely on a card reader like Square, PayPal and other competitors. Instead, the app uses image recognition algorithms to read the numbers off of a card's face and process a transaction that way.

"It doesn't take a picture of the card," Flint CEO Greg Goldfarb tells me, anticipating my question. "It just reads the numbers, and we do that to protect consumer privacy."

Flint


The system Flint created is nifty and well-realized, especially for a first-time app developer. Flint allows users to link an account to their business' Facebook page. Customers will then have the option to share testimonials directly to a business' page, as well as to their own wall.

Aside from the app (currently an iOS-exclusive), Flint also maintains a web portal, allowing users to run analytics on their sales and to target customers for additional communications.

Flint


It will be interesting to see how the app fares against the competition. The number recognition feature works quickly, but it still feels a step slower than simply swiping a card. The tradeoff, though, is that a retailer doesn't have to pay for a card reader dongle and can start accepting payments very quickly after downloading the free app.

"We've had people going from downloading the app from the App Store to processing their first transaction, literally, in two or five minutes," Goldfarb said.