Take It on the Road With Mobile Payments
Quick, whose face is on a $5 bill?
Who cares? Cash is, like, so last week. So is your cash register, for that matter. Thanks to a range of new and emerging technologies, small businesses no longer need to be tied to their usual methods of accepting payments.
Mobile commerce is the coming wave, especially for retailers whose business takes them outside the usual four walls. Get paid anywhere: A simple but powerful premise. Why wait for the money to come to you, when you can go to where the money is?
This is real. The volume of all types of mobile payments will reach $200 billion by 2015, up from $16 billion in 2010, according to research firm Aite Group. Mobile card acceptance by small businesses and individual merchants already stands at about $4 billion.
Who benefits? Plumbers and artisans, cab drivers and handymen, anyone with a business on-the-go, a mobile enterprise that meets its customers on the street or on their feet.
What Are the Options?
With Intuit GoPayment, customers swipe their card through and go. Square offers much the same: App, reader, zip zip and you’re paid. Likewise PayAnywhere, and PayPal Here. Pricing starts under 3% per transaction for any of these.
While others give away their basic money-acceptance infrastructure for free, Kudos charges $99 for its reader.
Mobile payments go beyond credit card swipes but also include technological evolutions such as near field communication or NFC. In this scenario, payment is made when two devices come into very close proximity, sending information (including credit card data) from one to the other. One market leader, ViVOtech, says it has shipped nearly one million NFC payment readers. The devices could be two smart phones, or a smartphone and a retailer’s point of sale system.
Mobile payment is a viable option. But this begs the question we pose to all new technologies that solicit the small business buck. That is, do you need it?
Arguably, no, depending on the nature of your business. There are plenty of small enterprises that are happily planted in one place and we need not list them all. Booksellers, bars, boatyards.
For a surprising number of entrepreneurs, however, mobility either is an option today, or would be a tempting proposition if there were a way to get paid on the spot. Lawn maintenance and chimney sweep, to pick two at random. And then there are the surprise entrants. Lawyers? Why not. Meet a new client in his or her office and seal the deal with an on-the-spot retainer. Tempting.
If you’re even remotely mobile, factor in the reality that customers are going to quickly come to expect this. That’s how it goes. Today’s novelty quickly becomes tomorrow’s inevitability.
Add to this the prospect of an impulse buy. A customer without cash may pass you by if you can’t complete that transaction on the spot. Mobile payment captures that transitory trade.
You’ll need to wade in with care. The legitimate players will have security locked down tight, but you’ll still want to ask how the money changes hands. How will the transaction turn into real lucre, and will your bank be geared up to facilitate and transfer the funds?