The more types of payment you are able to accept from your customers, the more likely you are to actually sell your products and services. This is true no matter what kind of business you run, and thanks to the increasing prevalent of mobile payment merchants, the days of only being able to accept cash and checks are all but over.
Pay attention the next time you are out and about, particularly if you are shopping at an independent business. Chances are that the “register” being used by that business is an iPad with some form of mobile card swiper plugged in to the earphone jack. They might also have a receipt printer plugged in, but more than likely, your “signature” is going to be done by swiping your finger or using a stylus to scrawl a signature across the tablet’s screen.
It isn’t just brick-and-mortar businesses that are getting in on the mobile payment craze. Independent vendors of all kinds are adopting these payment processors. Ten bucks says the next busker you see will have a stack of home-burned CDs for people to buy using a Square reader that she has plugged in to an iPhone.
It’s great that the credit card merchants out there are catching up to a public that wants what it wants in the most convenient way possible. This doesn’t mean, however, that if you want to accept mobile payments you don’t have to do a little bit of research.
The most popular and widely used mobile payment processor out there right now is Square, but it might not stay that way for long. Right now, Square is used primarily because they were the first major players on the scene. Recently, though, PayPal and Intuit have gotten in on the action. It won’t be long before the different banks (Chase, Wells Fargo, etc.) each have mobile payment processing options, too. So how do you figure out which one is right for you?
1. Each payment processor charges a fee — this much hasn’t changed since the days of bulky card swipers, carbon imprints, and phone calls. How much of your payment can you afford to give back to the processing company? Sure, the fees are tax deductible, but that doesn’t help you much in the moment.
2. How compatible is the processor with the accounts you already have open? The last thing you need is to have yet another account through which you accept payments. Remember the fee structure that was just mentioned? Make sure that you won’t be charged an additional fee for transferring funds from your account with the company to your account with the bank.
3. How do you feel about the interface? Is it easy to use? Can you track your inventory through its system, or do you have to manually input every piece of merchandise you want to sell? Is it easy to navigate through the system, or do you get trapped in menu after menu trying to get to the right screen so that you can accept payments?
4. How robust is the analytics tracking system? Keeping track of your customers, independent product sales, etc., manually while conducting a sales transaction is a huge pain. Tracking it manually later on is even worse because it leaves all sorts of room open for human error as you transcribe your sales records into your computer. Choose a company that records and reports on all of the analytical information that matters the most to you.
5. What kind of reputation does the company have? You wouldn’t hire a doctor without looking into her reputation, would you? Why would you trust all of your sales information and profits to a company about which you know nothing?
Mobile payment processing is easier than it has ever been. How long do you think it will be before even the card readers become redundant?
Erin Steiner is a full-time freelance content and copy writer. She writes about a variety of topics including mobile payments and other small business topics.