Only two days left to get Credit Card Terminal for free in January

January 30th, 2009 by Derek & Ryan

We still have a few spots left in our January promotion. Sign up for our merchant account and get Credit Card Terminal for free. Process cards as soon as you get set up, with no upfront costs: no application fee, no setup fee, no iTunes app store cost!

2-way app integration on the iPhone: How it works

January 5th, 2009 by Ryan

I’m really excited about the recently announced integration between our Credit Card Terminal app and PingySoft’s RingItUp Point of Sale app.

I suspect that other apps will want to provide similar integration. Just last week, Erica Sadun was talking about what she called “Bridging Functions” on Ars. That’s what I’m talking about here.

The URL Handler for Twitteriffic was the first thing Craig Hockenberry posted about after the NDA went away. Such URL handlers are a good sign that the community wants to expose app functionality in a reusable way, but they only solve half the problem since the user is stranded in the new app. Who wants to tap the home screen, find the original app, and navigate back to the right place?

Speaking of Twitteriffic, have you noticed how many iPhone apps have their own ad-hoc web browser built-in instead of using Safari? It’s because calling into Safari leaves the user stranded. We need an experience like playing a video from Safari. The video launches like a separate app, but there’s a Done button to return to what I was doing.

The basic idea, to quote my abstract algebra prof (sorry, Dr. Sherman!), is “Go somewhere; do something; come back.” The more apps that provide this kind of integration, the richer the iPhone platform will be.

Thankfully, since Apple has provided an underlying URL-based method for applications to communicate with each other, we can use existing techniques from the web space to accomplish our aim. Two apps can pass control between each other fairly easily when both are registered to handle a URL scheme in their Info.plist.

So here’s how the Credit Card Terminal / RingItUp integration works (video):

1. App A invokes a URL for App B, including a returnURL parameter that acts as a “continuation”

When you tap “Accept Credit Card Payment” in RingItUp, it crafts a URL for Credit Card Terminal. This is the familiar URL handler pattern that Craig talked about on his blog. You can specify various parameters on the query string and Credit Card Terminal will pre-fill those values.

The trick here is that RingItUp also includes a returnURL parameter so that Credit Card Terminal knows how to come back when the Credit Card Processing is done. The returnURL contains all the information RingItUp needs to bring the user back to the same place they started. In RingItUp’s case, this is as simple as including a record_id parameter. But you could imagine an arbitrarily complex “continuation” encoded in the URL.


2. When App B is done, it invokes the returnURL from App A, including any additional info

When you tap “Return to RingItUp” in Credit Card Terminal, it invokes the returnURL from the request, tacks on some additional return parameters that indicate whether the charge was approved (the return parameters are prefixed with ifcc_ to avoid collisions).


3. App A handles the returnURL, restoring the “continuation”

When RingItUp re-launches, it loads the correct record using the record_id parameter, then stores information about the credit transaction in the Notes field for that record.

I would be remiss if I failed to point out the security implications here. By registering to handle a URL scheme, an iPhone app becomes a de facto web app, subject to many of the nasty attacks that work on the web. Apps implementing this scheme must be careful to validate any parameters they get from the URL lest they be vulnerable to old friends like SQL injection. Another one to be careful of is unsolicited response attacks. The calling app should store a nonce value which it includes in the returnURL and reject any response with the incorrect nonce (similar to CSRF mitigation on the web).

Due to the security issues, as well as the sometimes tricky matter of properly encoding query string parameters, we’ve chosen to provide Objective-C classes for submitting the request and parsing the response when interacting with Credit Card Terminal. These are MIT Licensed, and we’d be very happy to see other app developers use them as templates for their own integration offerings.

What other apps would you like to see support 2-way integration? I’d love to see one of the twitter apps do it. That way I could expose the ability to send a quick tweet from my app without worrying about stranding the user and without writing against the twitter API directly. Which is a relief, because I certainly don’t want to be in the business of collecting people’s twitter passwords right now. :-)

Update: Of course, since iPhone apps are generally servicing one user, the easiest way to deal with the continuation problem is just to save what you need to NSUserDefaults.

Ring It Up Point of Sale Uses Credit Card Terminal to Accept Payment

January 5th, 2009 by Derek

We’re excited to announce an important milestone for Credit Card Terminal. Ring It Up Point of Sale is our first partner in the app store. Since Ring It Up makes the job of tracking your sales a snap, and Credit Card Terminal lets you accept credit card payments, we thought it was only natural that our two apps should work well together.

You can now accept credit card payments using Credit Card Terminal directly from a Ring It Up sales ticket. The best part is that you aren’t stranded in Credit Card Terminal. Once the card is processed, you go right back to the correct sales ticket within Ring It Up.

As far we know, this is the first time two iPhone apps have implemented 2-way integration (as opposed to 1-way, where the user can’t return to the original app).

You’ll need Credit Card Terminal v2.2.3 and Ring It Up v1.4 to use this new feature. If you have earlier versions, head over to the app store to download the updates.

Once the two apps are configured, just tap Accept Credit Card Payment from a Ring It Up sales ticket. You’ll be taken right over to Credit Card Terminal — with most fields already filled in. Enter the credit card information and tap Charge. Then it’s just one tap back to Ring It Up, which marks the ticket as paid and records some of the credit card details.

If you’re a developer and would like to integrate with Credit Card Terminal, take a look at our App Developer Documentation. You’ll find technical documentation, a user experience walkthrough, and sample code.

Our next blog post will give a technical overview of how we implemented this 2-way integration. We hope to see more apps using this trick in the future, so that users can perform quick one-off actions in another program and then get right back to what they were doing.

Easier AVS, description with Credit Card Terminal

December 4th, 2008 by Derek & Ryan

We’re excited to bring you an update to Credit Card Terminal— version 2.2.1 is now available in the App Store.

What’s new in this version:

  • Moved zip code to Terminal screen, making it easier to do AVS
  • Added “description” field (on the More Fields screen, tap the blue arrow)
  • Fixed a minor bug that caused the app to erroneously start up on the Settings screen

Fewer mistakes, invoice number with Credit Card Terminal

November 20th, 2008 by Derek & Ryan

We’re happy to announce that Credit Card Terminal version 2.2 is now available in the App Store.

What’s new in this version:

  • Card Number is larger and easier to read, including number groups
  • Expiration Date automatically inserts a / to improve readability
  • When setting up the Transaction Key (on the settings screen), you can see the whole value when you first enter it
  • Added the Invoice Number field (on the More Fields screen, tap the blue arrow)

Great new rates for Credit Card Terminal

November 11th, 2008 by Derek & Ryan

When we launched Credit Card Terminal, we received some feedback from small merchants that setting up the Authorize.Net® and merchant accounts for credit card processing was too complicated and too expensive, including some penalties that were hard on small merchants.

At this time, we’re very happy to announce that we’ve secured much better credit card processing rates for our Credit Card Terminal customers.

As a small business ourselves, we understand the importance of clear, predictable rates. And we hate paying for setup or termination — it puts a lot of pressure on up-front decision making instead of letting us try things out. We hope our new offering will make it easier and cheaper than ever to try Credit Card Terminal.

When you take advantage of our new Authorize.Net + Merchant Account sign-up, there are no application, sign-up, or termination fees, and no monthly minimum processing fee. Getting rid of the minimum processing fee is a big win for small merchants, since it results in a predictable monthly bill with no worries of paying penalties for months of low or no volume.

Here’s a comparison table, assuming you need to sign up for both Authorize.Net and a merchant account:

Up-front Monthly* Per-transaction Per-transaction %
New Fees $0.00 $25.00 First 250 $0.19
251+ $0.24
Qualified 2.09%
Old Fees $99.99 $27.90–$52.90 $0.35 Qualified 2.19%

* Range in monthly fee reflects the $25 minimum processing fee as part of the old rates. The new merchant account has no monthly minimum, so there is no penalty for charging less on a monthly basis.

Credit Card Terminal is in the App Store!

November 3rd, 2008 by Derek & Ryan

Credit Card Terminal is now for sale in the App Store. Thank you to everyone who participated in our Early Customer Program!

To go with our release, we’ve put together some additional information that will help you to get started with Credit Card Terminal.

iPhone Screenshot Terminal iPhone Screenshot More Fields