Square claims mPowa swiped its marketing image

The new UK competitor with Square, mPowa, uses a press image with an uncanny similarity to Square's

Technology trends and news by Krystal Peak
July 12, 2012
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The newest mobile payment company on the block, mPowa, is already causing waves with the big man on campus, Square, by (allegedly) editting a marketing picture of Square's and just inserting their information. The UK-based mPowa has only been on the scene for two weeks and already one of its images has spurred Square to issue a cease and desist notice on the image in question. 

The photo in dispute is, to my keen eye, an obvious photoshop job on a Square image. If you look at the hand placement, nail shape, and even the denim sleeve, it is really quite clear that the only changes were to the screen, the color of the dongle and the credit card used. 

It sure seems like a whole lot of effort and time in PhotoShop to get the image, which makes this even more curious, but then again, it has a lot of people talking about a service that no one had heard of two weeks ago. Can you say PR stunt?

In the letter that Square has issued to mPowa,  Square’s lawyers say: “The copying of Square’s image is clear and obvious. Indeed, it appears that mPowa’s infringement is intentional and deliberate, and that mPowa’s attempt at imitation may extend to other key Square intellectual property, including the Square Website and Square’s trademarks and trade dress.”

With Square in the mode of becoming a global mobile payment company, it is clear that the San Francisco leader is using its weight to show it won't overlook any overstepped boundaries. 

The notice also asks “to what extent mPowa has investigated whether other proprietary efforts of Square have been duplicated.”

As the mobile payment sector continues to heat us, with companies like iZettle, Payleven, Visa, PayPal, LevelUp, PayDragon and others marking their sliver of the hot market, it appears that Square is ready to hold onto the power that comes from being the ground breaker. 

How mPowa works

MPowa works, like many of the mobile payment services, by the use of a mobile phone app and a reader which connects to a smartphone or mobile device either by plugging into its headphone socket or via Bluetooth. The mobile app is free to download on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and Blackberry devices and functions as the control centre that accepts payment in multiple currencies anywhere in the world. It monitors payments made by card as well as cash and check.

The company states that it differs from the Square service in that it is the first service of its kind to enable businesses who already accept card payments, through their existing banking arrangements, to now have the benefit of mPowa's mobility. MPowa also caters for Chip & PIN cards -- using NFC technology to take in transactions.

"It was incredibly important to us that we were able to cater for the growing number of credit cards globally that bear a chip," said Dan Wagner, Chairman and CEO of Powa Technologies. "Chip & PIN technology is already extensively used throughout Europe and Asia and as more companies introduce it as a way of providing an added layer of security, the features of mPowa become all the more crucial for companies worldwide."

Both the mobile app and reader are free and the only cost associated with using mPowa is the 0.25% fee charged for each credit or debit card payment processed. 

(Image Source: TechCrunch)

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