Mobile Payments are Exploding: What You Need to Know

Anita Campbell

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Accepting payments via mobile device is becoming more and more mainstream. Right now, we are in the midst of a growth spurt that will see mobile payments in the U.S. hit $90 billion by 2017, according to a Forrester Research report released earlier this year. That’s up from $12.8 billion spent in 2012, the report states.

It’s also easier than ever to join the party, and retailers have an almost overwhelming number of options. There are several companies that cater to each type of mobile payment. Some companies (like Square) you are likely familiar with, but there are new faces popping up all the time.

It pays to check with your bank or merchant service provider to see what they have to offer. Organizations, like Community Merchants USA, also have resources on mobile payments and acceptance in order to help businesses understand this growing and rapidly changing method of payment.

To help you find the best fit for your business, here are a few things to consider when choosing your mobile payment processor:

What Type of Mobile Payment Works for You?

If you are not ready to let go of swiping a physical credit or debit card, there are a number of companies that allow you to use a card reader inserted right into your smartphone or tablet, including:

If you’re looking for something that doesn’t necessarily require a card, you have options there as well:

LevelUp allows customers to present a QR code (linked to their credit or debit card) from their smartphones for payment. The retailer then uses a LevelUp terminal to scan the code to complete the transaction.

Similarly, MasterCard’s PayPass and Visa’s payWave use near field communication (NFC) technology to accept payments. Customers with NFC-enabled smartphones just tap or hover their phone over the terminal to make a payment. Both PayPass and payWave accept NFC-enabled credit cards as well, and PayPass also accepts payments from Google Wallet.

How Much Will it Cost?

Transaction fees for mobile payments are relatively cheap and simple to understand. Many companies advertise a flat rate per transaction with no hidden fees or monthly charges, but most also charge a higher rate for cards that are manually entered or keyed in.

Advertised fees typically hover around 2 to 3% of the total payment per swipe. Groupon’s Breadcrumb is on the low end of that range, advertising 1.8% plus $0.15 per swipe, while Square and GoPayment advertise 2.75% per swipe. Some companies offer a lower per-swipe rate for an additional monthly fee. For example, GoPayment offers an option to pay $12.95 per month for a 1.75% per swipe fee.

LevelUp is unique in offering completely free credit card processing if you participate in their Interchange Zero program. The program requires you to run a marketing campaign with LevelUp and for every dollar your customer spends as a result of that campaign, $0.40 goes to LevelUp.

Will it Work With What You Already Have?

The majority of card readers and apps will work with both iOS and Android devices, but it’s more difficult to find those that support BlackBerry.

PayAnywhere and ROAMpay are two companies that have something for all three.

What Are the Perks?

All mobile payment processors offer credit card transactions that are convenient and quick, so what else can they do for you? There are many different features available from various companies.

Intuit’s GoPayment will sync information with your QuickBooks program. Groupon’s Breadcrumb Payments offers a plan with features specifically tailored to restaurants and bars. PayPal Here also accepts checks and PayPal payments.

Find the company that gives you the most value for your needs.

Stay Open-Minded

There are a lot of possibilities out there, and this article is in no way a complete list. No matter what approach you consider, keep in mind that the mobile payments industry is growing and evolving. It’s a good idea to remain flexible and be wary of committing to a mobile payment method or company that restricts you from future options.

Don’t Forget to Ask Them to Show You the Money

Make sure you are aware of the program requirements as to when you will get paid. Here are two important questions to ask:

1. When are your funds available?

Groupon’s Breadcrumb advertises next business day deposits into your bank, but with PayPal Here, funds are available in your PayPal account within minutes.

2. Are there any limits?

Square, for example, has a weekly deposit limit on manually-entered card transactions.

Courtesy: Small Biz Trends

About Anita Campbell

I am the Founder, CEO and Editor in Chief of this Small Business Trends site and the Small Business Trends newsletter. I am also the host of Small Business Trends Radio.