A guest post by Mary Reese.
In today’s highly connected world, most folks are incredibly busy and always on the go. So when potential customers decide they want to buy from your business, they must be able to do so immediately—from wherever they are.
Modern customers crave ease, speed, flexibility, and immediacy. If you can sell them on your business catering to those needs, people will flock to your brand. So, how can you make payments as easy as possible and ensure you don’t lose sales to the “I want it now” factor?
Customers love mobile payment options because they get what they want when they want it. Businesses love mobile payment options because companies now can capture sales in a new way. The only downside is taking the time to figure out which mobile payment application—or applications—make the most sense for your business.
Dongles rule mobile phone payments—for now. What are they? They are small physical devices (around the size of a quarter) that plug into your smartphone’s headphone jack and connect to a specific app. Customers can swipe their cards through the dongle then sign their name on the phone’s screen. Examples of mobile dongle payment devices include…
- Square. So named because the dongle is shaped like a square. This one has actually been around for several years, and it is a favorite with cab drivers. Swiped transactions include a flat 2.75 percent fee. Manual entries have a fee of 3.5 percent fee plus $0.15 per transaction.
- PayPal Here. How did PayPal Here choose to differentiate itself from Square? The dongle is a triangle. Oh, and PayPal Here also charges lower fees, which is probably more important. They take 2.7 percent instead of 2.75 percent. Not much, but every penny counts, right?
- Intuit GoPayment. Do you have multiple employees taking mobile payments? Are you processing a lot of payments? Or larger payments? If so, then this app might be the one for you. They charge 2.7 percent for swiped transactions but also add a $0.15 fee. Translation: They’re worse than Square for smaller payments but better for larger ones. The app also allows you to easily add up to 50 people to the same account. And Intuit GoPayment automatically connects to Quickbooks and lowers processing fees dramatically from what we detailed above—if you pay a $12.95 monthly fee.
These devices are bulkier but also offer a more robust array of features when you need them for long periods of time, such as conventions and tradeshows.
- Paynet’s Credit Card Machine. This application can work much like the ones described above, but it also includes further functionality, such as the ability to include tax and tips, email receipts to customers, and keep a customer and inventory database. One of its biggest draws is the 4×4 swipe and printer combo that plugs right into any laptop for use. This solution is perfect for when you know you’re going to be making sales in the same place for several hours.
- ProPay MicroSecure Card Reader. This one is good for folks who aren’t ready to shell out the monthly service fees for a smartphone but who still need something less bulky than the Paynet option is. ProPay’s card reader is a swipe that fits in your pocket (it’s only 1.4 ounces!), requires no outside power source (its charge lasts for 8 hours), and can hold up to 71 transactions. This option is perfect if you’re selling your product door to door or walking around the convention floor. After the event, you can load the transaction information into your computer via the reader’s USB connection.
The next generation of mobile payment apps requiring nothing but your smartphone already are on the way. If your customers have phones with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology built-in, you can reach out to them through various options.
- MasterCard PayPass/Google Wallet and Visa payWave. PayPass and payWave aren’t what you’d usually consider for small businesses; setup requires relatively complicated POS systems for in-store purchases. However, PayPass can also be integrated into your website to allow for simple, one-click payments from customers. And I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the near future, NFC technology allows you to pay by having one phone read information from another.
- Flint Mobile’s Beta App. Who needs NFC? Not Flint Mobile. They’re already beta testing an as-yet unnamed application that requires no external swipe or dongle to read credit cards. And it doesn’t use NFC technology. All mobile business owners need do is snap a picture of the credit card to “swipe” it. Perhaps just as important, Flint is looking to help small businesses do more than just make the sale; they want to help you build a customer base. To that end, their app has built in social marketing tools to help you stay connected with your customers.
As you can see, you have numerous mobile payment options for your business. Which one is right for you? Your goal should be to find the best payment option to fit the situation and to fit your customers’ needs. That often means offering as many choices as you can—within reason.
Mary Reese is immersed in the financial blogosphere covering topics that range from credit card processing solutions to financial applications and technology.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Asian Man Texting)