How To Accept Mobile Payments
Mobile payments are skyrocketing: Digital research firm eMarketer estimated that 61.6 million people in the U.S. would use mobile payments in 2019,1 continuing a steady uptick from 55 million in 2018.
Given growing customer preference for this form of payment, you risk losing customers (or looking dated) if you're not yet accepting mobile payments. Here's what you need to know to get started.
First, what are mobile payments?
The term "mobile payments" refers to paying for something using a portable device, such as a tablet, cellphone, or smartwatch. Mobile payments essentially work the same way as a credit or debit card would, but customers don't have to reach for their purse or wallet; instead the payment information is stored in their “mobile wallet."
Retailers who don't accept mobile payments risk being left behind. 60+ million people in the U.S. paid by mobile in 2019, and that is expected to grow.
Four key benefits of accepting mobile payments
Mobile payments offer a wide variety of benefits for both the customer and the small businesses that accept them.
- Better customer experience: Customers value being able to pay in the way they prefer, and they increasingly find mobile payments extremely convenient.
- Enhanced security: It's common to read news stories about retailers inadvertently exposing credit and debit card numbers and other personal customer information to hackers, and every small business fears the negative impact of a security breach. Accepting payment via a mobile wallet can improve security2 because merchants only receive a one-time authentication code that's unique to a particular purchase. (With traditional card payment processing, merchants receive a customer's complete card details, which could later be used by hackers.)
- Streamlined retail space: Mobile payments are disrupting the old retail model of a long, winding line near a central cash register. With a mobile “point of sale" (POS) system, a cashier can use an iPad or similar device to accept payments anywhere in the store, eliminating the need for a designated cashier area. For example, you can take orders and payment while customers are in line or let them exit with a tap of their credit card as they emerge from the fitting room. This move away from a bulky cash register can allow you to provide a more sophisticated, white-glove experience.
- Faster service: With a mobile wallet, you don't have to wait for card processing or verify the card's expiration date or security code. That means you can move your customers along that much faster as the payment goes through instantaneously.
The equipment you need to accept mobile payments
To accept mobile payments, you'll need reliable internet service and a POS system that's compatible with Near Field Communication (NFC). That means it can accept data via wireless transfer, such as with just a tap of a smartphone. If you have a relatively modern POS terminal, chances are good that it is already enabled — by the end of 2017, 88% of all POS systems shipped3 had NFC capability.
If not, ask your payment processor for information on the options available for a NFC-enabled payment reader; some may offer terminal exchange programs if yours isn't equipped.
Also, be sure to talk to your payment processor to clarify the fees you will incur. Typically they are similar to what you would be paying to accept a credit card, such as a fee per transaction and an additional percentage of the total sale.
How to set up a Mobile Payment System
Getting up and running is straightforward.
First, secure a contactless payment-capable POS device as mentioned above. Then, verify that you have the software to accept common forms of mobile payments, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay. Your provider can help with what you need to know.
Then you'll need to train your staff to make sure they know how to help customers who want to use their mobile wallet but are unfamiliar with how it works.
- Show your staff where the customer should position their device to interact.
- Demonstrate the buttons employees need to push on their end to process a transaction, and which buttons the customer needs to push to initiate and complete the transaction.
- Engage in some trial runs. For example, you might consider setting up your own mobile wallet and testing it so you can see any potential glitches and offer pointers for your staff.
Ready to start accepting mobile payments today? Talk to your Synovus banker if you have any lingering questions about the next generation of payment processing.
Important Disclosure Information
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
- Rimma Kats, “The Mobile Payments Series: US" eMarketer. Published Nov. 9, 2018, accessed Nov. 25, 2019. Back
- Gadjo C. Sevilla, "Navigating Small Business Mobile Payments Is Getting Easier," PCMag.com. Published May 7, 2019, accessed Dec. 2, 2019. Back
- Kevin Woodward; “NFC-Equipped POS Terminals Will Reach 112.3 Million by 2022, a Forecast Predicts" Digital Transactions. Published July 10, 2018, accessed Nov. 25, 2019. Back
Do you have questions or ideas?
Share your thoughts about this article or suggest a topic for a new one