Payline Mobile Review
I’m usually pretty excited about new mPOS options. Not because we need more of them — honestly, there’s an absurd number of mobile processors out there. Most of them are barely worth noting. I get excited because each new entry is a chance to improve on the basic model: a chance to do something different, shake things up, or refine something and elevate the experience. It’s just a matter of whether the product lives up to that potential. The sad truth is most don’t. Good options are few and far between. So I was a tiny bit hopeful and a tiny bit skeptical approaching my Payline Mobile review.
For one, Payline Mobile isn’t new in the strictest sense. Payline Data has been offering a mobile solution for merchants for years now. It just hasn’t been very good. But the company recently launched a new mobile app, new hardware, and a new pricing model, which means I had to take a look.
The first thing I noticed is that Payline’s mobile solutions are structured more like Spark Pay and Intuit GoPayment, with your choice of mobile plans. That made me wonder if Payline Mobile was meant to work more as a standalone mPOS solution than an add-on product for merchant account holders. That’s significant because most add-on mobile products tend to be pretty barebones and are not intended to be standalone. At best, they’re an extension of a larger platform. At worse, they’re nothing but a stopgap for merchants who really need to be able to accept payments in the field but don’t need much else. Standalone mPOS options such as Square or PayPal Here or Spark Pay are a bit more comprehensive. They don’t usually give you the full POS experience you can get if you sign up for a merchant account, but they’re more than just a stopgap.
And that was certainly enough to pique my interest because the biggest failing and complaint about any standalone mPOS provider is the lack of stability. Holds and freezes are a lot more common because of the third-party processing model, and even ones like Intuit and Spark Pay, which do offer merchant accounts, aren’t all that much better.
The second thing I noticed, though, is that Payline Data gives you a full, traditional merchant account when you sign up. Payline has a nearly immaculate reputation in the industry, so, yeah, my interest in this option definitely increased. Color me even more intrigued.
I did some digging into the product. Payline was also gracious enough to help out and answer a lot of questions I had. (Disclaimer: While Payline Data provided information, the opinions contained in this review are entirely my own.) Here’s what I found out:
Payline Mobile is a white label ROAMpay app (the company previously used iProcess and Swipe Simple). You might have heard of ROAMpay before, but like many others, you probably don’t know much about it. ROAMpay is actually an mPOS app offered by Ingenico, a company that makes all sorts of credit card terminals and mobile devices. However, instead of offering a direct-to-merchants solution, Ingenico licenses the software to other processing companies, who can offer the ROAMpay app directly, or offer a skinned and branded white label version.
This is a pretty common practice in mobile payments as well as in technology in general, so you don’t need to worry about it. As far as you are concerned, it means you should, in theory, get a more reliable product with fewer glitches and better device compatibility.
Some of the information in this review will apply exclusively to Payline Mobile. But as far as technical information is concerned, it’s pretty safe to say that you’ll find a lot of similarities with other ROAMpay-powered apps, including a similar user experience. We’ve also incorporated information about the ROAMpay app here to establish a baseline in the absence of substantial user commentary about Payline Mobile exclusively.
Back to my original train of thought: There’s no shortage of mPOS apps, but the good ones — the ones that do hold promise for merchants who want something that’s more than just “meh” — those are lacking. Where does Payline Mobile (and by extension ROAMpay) fall? Does it live up to its potential?
Payline Mobile is unique in that it serves a niche that has been lacking good, high-quality options for a long while: small merchants who need reliable mPOS processing and not much else. You get an actual merchant account — and the minimum monthly requirement is significantly lower than the other mPOS options that offer individual merchant accounts. The app, while not being super advanced, is definitely more than just the barebones. And it’s hard to argue with the pricing model: interchange-plus and no hidden fees.
So, yeah, the new Payline Mobile offers a lot of promise. It ticks all the major boxes (affordable, stable, with a decent mix of features) without becoming a mammoth ecosystem a la Square or being accessible only to bigger merchants. If you just want an mPOS (and maybe a virtual terminal thrown in), I don’t see any genuine disadvantages to Payline. For that reason, I’m happy to say Payline Mobile earns a commendable 4.5 stars.
And if you want something a bit more robust while still being mobile-focused, Payline does have another, more advanced system in the works. We’ll take a look at that when it finally hits the market. For now, read on for a more in-depth look at Payline Mobile.
Are you using Payline’s mPOS product? Leave us a comment and let us know how you like it! (Make sure your comments meet our review guidelines.)
Products and Services:
Payline Mobile is almost exclusively an mPOS offering. (By almost, I mean there’s a virtual terminal, too.) Payline’s eCommerce and countertop processing solutions are separate solutions, and you should go check out our full Payline Data review for more information about them.
For this review, we are only looking at what is available in Payline’s two mobile plans, which it calls Spark and Surge. They use the same app, with the only difference being the pricing and the free hardware.
Here’s what you’ll find in the mPOS app, feature-wise:
- Accept EMV, NFC, and Magstripe Payments: Payline has a basic reader that’s free with the Spark Plan and an all-in-one reader that’s free with the Surge plan.
- Accept Cash: The app supports cash recording and shows the change due.
- Accept International Cards: You can process cards from another country at actual interchange rates — just be aware that international cards have a higher interchange.
- Full and Partial Refunds: Payline Mobile lets you issue both full and partial refunds from within the app. You can also visit the transaction history to see other details and resend or reprint receipts.
- Tipping: You can accept tips for cash and card transactions. By default, the tipping feature is preset to 10%, 20%, and 30%, but you can also add a custom tip amount, either as a dollar amount or percentage.
- Discounts: You can set discounts by percentage or dollar amount, but it only applies to the whole transaction, not individual items.
- Tax Settings: Payline Mobile’s tax settings let you set different tax rates on various items, or you can set a master tax in the checkout process (this works if you have certain items that are exempt from sales tax or items that require an additional tax to be applied).
- Disable Signature for Transactions Under $50: For swiped transactions (not keyed-in transactions), you can disable this option.
- SMS and Email Receipts: Send and re-send emails to customers’ phones via text or email. You can even personalize the email receipt with your logo and contact information and a special message.
- Store Notes and Customer Information: Apart from Square, this might be the only mobile POS app that allows you to keep notes and save customer data. However, it comes with a couple of caveats: You can save customer emails, names, addresses, and phone numbers in the app, but you can only access through the ROAM Merchant Portal. Second, phone numbers aren’t stored for sending future receipts the way they are in Square and PayPal Here. You can also keep notes and make a note of invoice numbers when you’re processing a transaction, but the app doesn’t support invoicing itself. For that, you’ll need to look for another solution.
- Item Library: Payline allows you to create a catalog of items for quick reference. It supports name, image, price, as well as a description, tax amount, and SKU/UPC number. However, it doesn’t support variants (or add-ons), so you’ll have to create separate items for each variant.
- Barcode Scanning: This is an uncommon feature in basic and mid-level mPOS providers, but it’s useful. Payline Mobile will turn your tablet or phone camera into a barcode scanner. The catch is that it only works with your device camera. No Bluetooth or wired scanners are supported.
- Merchant Portal: Unsurprisingly, the Merchant Portal is powered by ROAM — but again, that’s not a bad thing. This is how you can check on your sales and customer information; it also gives you access to the virtual terminal.
Sub-Users: Running Payline Mobile on multiple devices? Good news: You can enable sub-user (sometimes called employee) accounts, so everyone has their own unique login.
- Setup Sub-Users: You can set up sub-users so that you can track sales and make sure your staff is accountable.
Virtual Terminal: Log into the ROAMpay merchant portal in your browser and you can access the virtual terminal, which will allow you to key in transactions. I wish there was support for a card swiper, but that’s a pretty rare feature in virtual terminals these days, especially barebones ones like this.
You might be noticing a few missing things: integrations, for example, and invoicing. You don’t get either of these features, but the virtual terminal will help with bookkeeping. We did say Payline isn’t the most comprehensive option. But the feature set is solid and a step above your typical barebones processing app.
Payline Mobile Hardware:
Because the Payline Mobile app is just a re-skinned ROAMpay app, it shouldn’t surprise you in the slightest that your hardware choices are both Ingenico products. For the entry-level Payline plan, Spark, you get a free basic magstripe reader (the GX5) a la Square or PayPal Here. It retails for $50 on its own, but it is free with Payline Spark, which is nice.
Now, if you want EMV, you’ll need to upgrade to the Surge plan, where you’ll get the Ingenico RP457c, an all-in-one reader that supports EMV, NFC, and magstripe. Or you can buy it outright for $150, which is isn’t that far off from some other readers I’ve seen, but certainly not the most affordable.
The RP457c is an interesting little device. It connects to most phones via Bluetooth — so you can use it as a handheld device. But it also connects via the headphone jack if necessary. Frankly, I am not sure why that’s even necessary given the prevalence of Bluetooth, but it’s nice to know that you have both options in case absolutely everything goes wrong and you need a backup.
Keep in mind, Payline Mobile isn’t meant to transition into a countertop solution. It’s meant for in-the-field use. So there’s no supported receipt printer. If you want a cash drawer (and really, in a mobile setup, why would you?) you’ll need a manual one. Better to invest in a more portable cash box or pouch, in my opinion.
Payline Mobile Rates and Fees:
I said this earlier, but Payline Mobile’s pricing model resembles that of Spark Pay or Intuit GoPayment. It offers a no-monthly-fee plan alongside a paid monthly plan with a lower rate. And as we said previously, you get a genuine merchant account. That means a bit more of an intensive setup process. However, at the same time, it means you don’t have to worry about triggering an account hold for a large transaction. There’s no per-transaction limit, no weekly limit. Your annual limit is set during the underwriting process.
Depending on when you batch out for the day and the type of transaction, you’ll typically get paid within 24 to 48 hours, which is good.
Even better, both plans offer interchange plus, which is not something you typically see from third-party or standalone mPOS providers at all. Usually, it’s only an option for omnichannel or add-on packages.
We like interchange plus because it’s fair and transparent pricing. However, it does mean your rates aren’t 100% predictable because it depends on your overall volume as well as the type of cards you process. But here’s what you’ll pay per transaction.
- Interchange + 0.5% + $0.20
- No monthly fee
- Best for businesses processing under $5,000 monthly
- Interchange + 0.3% + $0.20
- $9.95 monthly fee
- Best for businesses processing $5,000 monthly or more
Payline doesn’t openly disclose this on its website, but with both the Spark and Surge plans, you need to generate a minimum of $25 in processing fees. However, if you ask an account rep, they’ll tell you about this. Very roughly speaking, that means you need to make about $1,000 per month in card transactions.
However, precisely how much you need to process depends on the plan as well as your average ticket size — and that’s because unlike Square or PayPal Here, Payline charges a percentage plus a per-transaction fee.
Apart from the monthly fee, if you opt for that, and the required $25 minimum, there aren’t any other regular costs. No PCI compliance fees, no statement fees, nothing like that. If you don’t meet your $25 minimum, Payline will only charge you the difference (so if you generate $17.85 in fees in a month, Payline will bill you another $7.15). Plus, you’ll pay $35 per chargeback — which you shouldn’t have to deal with very often if you don’t sell online.
And again, this is an actual merchant account, not a third-party setup. You’re going to get the same stability as another merchant account, but without having to process $5K or $10K per month. It sounds almost too good to be true — but Payline has the reputation to back it up.
Contract Length and Early Termination:
When you sign up for a Mobile plan, you’ll get the same terms as you would get with any other Payline agreement: a month to month contract, no early termination fees, no account fees.
If you do want to cancel your account, all you have to do is give Payline a call and they’ll take care of it.
If your business is seasonal, Payline will work with you too. You can do seasonal accounts if you ask — you’ll just have to purchase your card reader outright instead of getting one for free. I think this is a pretty reasonable trade-off, though I’m not super thrilled about the price of the basic magstripe reader. Not when PayPal and Square and LOTS of others offer theirs for under $15. Then again, I’ve seen models that sell for $80, too, so it could absolutely be worse.
A couple more pieces of information to note:
You don’t have to pay any PCI compliance fees with Payline Mobile, but you’re still going to have to fill out the standard self-assessment on an annual basis. This might be a minor annoyance to some, but again: You don’t have to pay any PCI compliance fees, which can sometimes cost you more than $100/year with merchant accounts.
High-risk businesses are still best looking elsewhere. While Payline Data can work with a LOT of industries, this particular mobile package is designed for low- and medium-risk businesses. If you already know you’re in a high-risk field, get yourself a high-risk merchant account and save yourself the hassle. Payline can also help you determine if you need a high-risk account or not.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
In general, we’ve found that Payline Data is easily one of the most reputable processors out there. You’ll see fair disclosure of everything, with no hidden fees, no misleading statements for contracts, etc. This is what we like to see.
The only niggling issue we have is the fact that Payline Mobile doesn’t mention the monthly minimum on its website. However, we were able to get that information directly from the company when we asked, and the sales reps do disclose it during the signup process.
Meanwhile, I’m loving Payline’s blog. The topics are good. The writing isn’t super in-depth, but it’s a solid starting point. There’s clearly some marketing spin going on, but the topics are things merchants are going to have questions about., and that’s worth taking note of, as is coverage of timely issues.
Payline is also active on social media. And I admit I am often critical of mPOS and small processing companies’ social media in particular. I think well done social media is usually an indicator that a company knows how to approach and deal with small businesses.
Payline has a small following on Facebook with just under 2,000 fans, and about 1,200 fans on Twitter (@PaylineData_; note the underscore!), but no social media support. I don’t see any comments or requests for help on these platforms either. There’s also a LinkedIn profile if you prefer to interact that way. But even if there isn’t a lot of engagement, I hope merchants are reading the articles put out. It looks like Payline at least knows what to put out on the Internet.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
In general, Payline offers your standard array of customer support: an email/ticket-based system, as well as phone support, a fairly comprehensive knowledge base, and a nearly dead community forum. (By comparison, Square and PayPal’s forums are thriving destinations for knowledge, so this is a bit of a disappointment considering the forum is for all of Payline’s products.)
We don’t see very many complaints about Payline’s customer service at all, and it stands to reason that mobile users will have a similar experience. For the most part, you are going to deal with Payline’s internal customer support. However, for the big technical issues, Payline will refer you to Ingenico. Unfortunately, it seems Ingenico’s technical support is… spotty at best. But at least it’s available as a backup if needed. It’s definitely a good thing that you can, in fact, get the people who built the app on the line.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
We really don’t see very many negative reviews of Payline at all — and with the Mobile app being new, it’s going to take some time to really get a feel for how consumers like it. This is something we’ll be checking in on for our review updates.
However, we do have some decent data on the ROAMpay app thanks to the App stores, and hands down the biggest complaint seems to relate to the tipping feature and its placement in the checkout process. Right now, the ROAMpay app asks for tip before you finish processing the transaction, which is a teensy bit awkward for people running the mobile app. This appears to be something new — and it could be fixed in an app update.
The second most common complaint is the customer service.
However, despite all that, the ROAMpay app has a 4-star rating from 258 reviews and the reviews for its other skinned apps are generally good, though the numbers are low. The same can’t be said of iTunes reviews, as the ratings are low across very, very few reviews. It appears that ROAMpay, unlike a LOT of other mPOS options, fares better in the Android ecosystem than iOS.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
As we said in our main review, you’ll find some testimonials on Payline’s site. The bulk of the praise comes from other sources, and most of what we hear celebrated includes:
- Contract terms
- Customer support
- Transparency in the sales process
- Service and account reliability
At this point, we’ll need to wait until the Payline Mobile app gets a bit more traction to really flesh this out to be mPOS specific. But ROAMpay app reviews suggest that it should be fairly intuitive and glitch-free, which is more than can be said for some others.
Payline Mobile fills a niche in the payments industry that no one else really has managed to even tap into yet. Most no-frills mPOS solutions are very, very basic with not much stability and a high bar to entry. Even the ones that offer a lot of value (Square, PayPal Here) are higher priced and don’t offer stability. Payline will give you the best of both worlds — a fairly capable mPOS with competitive pricing, but one with a high degree of account stability.
I see areas for improvement — the per-transaction fee is a little high, which makes the pricing not quite as competitive as it could be for some businesses. I’d love to see some sort of disclosure on the site about the monthly minimum. I’ll always have a wishlist of features for any mPOS I review. But honestly, while it’s definitely NOT a Square replacement, Payline Mobile has almost everything I could wish for from a mid-tier app. I think a ROAMpay powered app is a solid solution when you don’t need something insanely innovative but also want to do more than just the bare minimum.
We feel comfortable recommending Payline Data with 4.5 stars. With a little more time and a chance to build a reputation for this specific solution, Payline Mobile could become a 5-star solution. It’s certainly not an original solution but it makes up for the lack of creativity with solid features and performance. Give Payline Mobile a shot.
Thanks for reading our Payline Mobile review! If you have experience with Payline and its skinned ROAMpay app, please check out our review submission guidelines and leave a comment!