Updated: January 2nd, 2018
When it comes to mobile payments, there are lots of options. Square, Shopify, and Moneris are all fairly well-known players in this market, but there is a new kid on the block. Dream Payments promises many of the same features as others, with a few additional nice-to-haves. We got our hands on one and have given it a full test.
Here is the description from the team themselves:
Dream Payments provides businesses all across Canada with an affordable and cloud based Mobile Point of Sale solution. With Dream, you can accept Interac® Debit and credit cards and even contactless payments, and with our online reports and analytics, you can manage your business right from your smartphone or tablet. Dream eliminates the expense and complexity of traditional point of sale solutions so you can focus on growing your business and achieving your own dreams!
Essentially, it is a mobile payment terminal that connects to your Android or iOS phone via bluetooth and allows you to process credit and debit transactions. Sounds pretty neat, and while there are already others that do this, Dream brings a few additional features.
Dream payments is a separate device, and doesn't plug into your phone directly. That means you need to sync it via bluetooth and make sure it is charged. Square on the other hand is a simple headphone jack reader, no sync, no charging. Good luck plugging it into an iPhone 7 or some newer android devices without headphone jacks.
Square now has a great new chip+tap device that syncs with bluetooth. Tap debit is accepted as well, but only up to $100. We grabbed one of these ($60) from Square. Setup was easy, reliable, and worked with credit, debit, and Apple Pay well.
Bottom line: With the release of the Square Chip+Tap reader, the playing field has been levelled quite a bit. If you need to take debit over $100, then Square still won't work, but outside of that it will.
Using a very similar tech to Square, Shopify has a plugin card reader. You can get a lightning based version, so you can use it on an iPhone 7, however no USBC or MicroUSB version currently exists. It also can't do debit, tap, or Apple Pay.
If you use Shopify (you should, it's awesome) then you can still use Dream Payments instead. Just classify it as external debit and external credit, and away you go. Processing fees are also a little less with Dream, so its a reasonable solution.
Shopify also released a chip+tap reader, but only in the USA. It should make it to Canada soon hopefully!
There are a lot of solutions from Monaris, but the closest to Dream is called PAYD. It has a very similar terminal, can take debit, credit and chip cards, and it is supposed to work with tap. Unfortunately during our testing, we were not able to get the tap functionality to work. We also had a tough time with setup of PAYD and found having to remember our merchant number to login on our phone difficult.
PAYD is also $20 a month, and while it's transaction fees are less (0.1%), the difference isn't noticeable until you are collecting over $20,000 a month. It is also unclear what happens if the device is lost or broken during your 'rental' period.
Bottom Line: Dream was easier to setup, tap worked right away, and at $100 flat, it is affordable with no long term commitment.
If you use QBO (QuickBooks Online) to manage your finances, you'll love the sync. It is effortless, setup was three steps, and it is all handled for you. Only having completed a few transactions, it has synced things with ease. If you are a heavy user, your results may differ, but for us it was simple.
With new tech, there are always some growing pains. Here are some things to watch out for:
The unit we were sent has a red button on the side that puts the unit to sleep or wakes it. Make sure not to put it to sleep, then leave it for a day as you'll be unable to charge transactions. Powering it down is our go-to now that we know this, but we would like to see a deep sleep mode or an automatic shut down after sleeping for some period of time. At the very least, kill the power so that when we go to use it the next time, there is enough juice to make a transaction.
Unfortunately, we have not seen any update to this area so you need to be careful to turn off your unit.
Not many credit cards don't have a chip and pin system, but for those that don't, you are not going to be able to use this device. There is promise of an update, and the hardware is there, but as of the update to this article (January 2018), it's still not possible.
This is a big pain point currently, but it isn't really Dreams fault. If you refund a debit transaction, you have to do it in cash. To refund a credit card, you need the card to be present, which is a drawback from other payment systems such as square. If you used Apple Pay, refunds are not possible due to Apple Pay creating a different card number on your device. Bottom line: refunds on Dream are not great, so make sure your customers really want what they are buying.
If you regularly need a payment system on the go for debit and credit, this is a great machine for you and is cheaper over the long run then other solutions. You can order yours on their website, and it will show up in the mail a few days later. They also have a decent return policy, so if you don't like it, send it back for a refund. Our shipment came with a free return envelope and label, so there is nothing to lose.