AnywhereCommerce Acquires Patents on Mobile Card Acceptance ‘Dongle’

Oct. 25, 2012

Montreal-based mobile payments technology provider AnywhereCommerce has secured two U.S. patents surrounding the increasingly ubiquitous card readers—known as “dongles”—used by small merchants to accept credit-card payments via a smartphone or tablet. The patents, which cover any solution that uses the audio jack of a mobile device to accept payments, could have major impact on a burgeoning industry that is beginning to gain significant traction in the small merchant community.

While San Francisco startup Square has garnered most of the headlines surrounding this technology, many providers have developed mobile acceptance solutions and most of them, if not all, require a device that plugs into the phone’s audio jack. AnywhereCommerce is one of the largest global manufacturers of the devices and provides an app that enables mobile acceptance as well, Mitchell Cobrin, co-founder and CEO of AnywhereCommerce told He indicated the company does not intend to use the patents simply to force monetary settlements.

“We’re very careful of how we want to manage the IP and the product,” said Cobrin. “We’re already dealing with many of the top ten merchant acquirers. We’re not at all an IP squatter.”

AnywhereCommerce already is offering its solution through First Data, Bank of America Merchant Services, Heartland Payments and, Cobrin noted, has agreements in the works with three more acquirers. He said the company will leverage the patents to expand its customer base.

When asked about Square, the company that may have done more to raise the visibility of mobile card acceptance than any other, Cobrin would not disclose if AnywhereCommerce was working with them or not. He did indicate, however, he feels the patents will be enforceable.

“If you look at both the claims that were accepted by the [patent office] and the references, there is in excess of 175 references on our patent, which makes it very compelling in terms of enforceability. That’s going to go a long way toward galvanizing our position in the marketplace.”

While mobile acceptance in the U.S. centers around swiping mag stripe cards through a dongle, Cobrin said the patents also cover Chip-and-PIN devices, which AnywhereCommerce also provides and are beginning to gain traction in EMV markets .

“Basic mag stripe reading is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “For us it goes a lot deeper than that. We have all the major global jurisdictions on board as well. We’re going to be deploying Chip and PIN in the Asia Pacific region and in Latin America.”