Intuit Takes the Gloves Off in Mobile Payments Push

Intuit (s intu) is positioning its mobile payment GoPayment service to compete with the likes of Square and Verifone’s PAYware Mobile by offering a free version of the service for a limited time. The move may only be temporary, but it underscores the growing attention to mobile payments from companies across the mobile ecosystem.

Intuit said it will offer its GoPayment mobile payment service with a free credit card reader and no monthly service fees to business owners who sign up by mid-February. Until now, users had to buy the credit card reader for about $200 and pay $13 a month for the service. GoPayment, like Square and PAYware Mobile, allows users to turn their smartphone into a credit card terminal, and is available on 40 different handsets running Apple’s iOS, BlackBerry OS and Android. Intuit said it’s already processed $80 million through GoPayment since the service launched two years ago. It’s a lot less than the $500 million PayPal said it would process through PayPal mobile in 2010, but Intuit said it sees a bright future for its mobile payments efforts.

Along with the move to free, Intuit is raising its discount rate almost in line with Square’s fees for each transaction. Now, GoPayment users will pay 2.7 percent on most transactions and 15 cents per transaction.

We should expect more of these competitive moves as companies look to get a piece of the mobile payments action. As we’ve noted before, this is a market worth an estimated $633 billion globally by 2014. Lately, we’ve written about the carriers looking to tap near field communications through Isis, a new mobile commerce network. Google (s goog) is also pushing its own payments efforts with NFC support built into Android 2.3, something Nokia (s nok) has also pursued and Apple (s aapl) is reportedly interested in. Meanwhile, PayPal (s ebay), Zong and Boku have pushed even harder into the mobile payments area with PayPal saying it is going “all in” on mobile payments. And players like AT&T (s t) and even mobile game maker Rovio are also looking to push carrier billing as a payment option.

Now there are a lot of flavors of mobile payments, and not everyone is directly competing against each other. There are mobile wallets, point of sale, carrier billing, in-app purchases, peer-to-peer services and other categories in this larger space. For a good look at a break down of the mobile payments market, take a look at this GigaOM Pro report (subscription required). The point is, this is still early days in mobile payments and many companies see this is going to be a big opportunity. If you can become the go-to player in any one of these areas, it can mean a profitable business for some time. That’s why Intuit is ramping up its efforts and why you can expect a lot more of the same going forward.

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