Smart payment technology

used with permission from HP Tech Takes

Should your business consider it?

The days of only using smartphones for making calls, sending text messages and checking emails are long gone. Today, 96 percent of Americans use smartphones for everything from online shopping to listening to music, streaming movies and ordering Uber rides.

So why not use them as mobile wallets as well?

Mobile wallets are apps on handheld gadgets, like smartphones, that let consumers store multiple debit, credit or loyalty cards in one place. By swiping the device past an NFC (near-field communications) enabled device point of sale (POS) machine, users save the step of whipping out their wallets to buy items. If you’ve paid for your coffee by holding your phone up to the Starbucks barista, you get the idea.

Mobile wallet use is on the rise, and that trend is almost certainly going to affect your business, if it hasn’t already. In fact, mobile wallet use in stores are on pace to exceed $100 million for the first time this year, according to Juniper Research. Global mobile wallet payments, meantime, are expected to reach $250 billion by 2024, according to a March 2019 MarketWatch reportMillennials, in particular, are embracing this trend with nearly half saying they’ve already used a mobile wallet. Given these statistics, you might be wondering whether it’s time to implement smart payments as part of your checkout process. The good news is that upgrading to smart payments can be easy.

Here are a few tips for getting started:

1. Choose your mobile wallet platforms

There are literally dozens of potential mobile wallet platforms you can choose from to accept payments from mobile wallets. The major ones include: Apple Pay; Google Wallet; Android Pay; Samsung Pay; and PayPal (the only brand that works across all major devices).

Start preparing by checking with your existing payment provider to see if they already support mobile payments and any of these platforms in particular. Meantime, whatever you do, make sure you continue to accept all traditional forms of payment, such as Mastercard, Visa and American Express.

2. Implement the right technology

If your existing payment provider doesn’t support mobile wallets (or even if they do but don’t offer particularly great equipment), you’ll need to do a little work yourself.

Online businesses, for example, will have to add a component to their existing shopping cart software in order to accept mobile payments. Physical businesses, meanwhile, will need a POS terminal capable of seeing and communicating with mobile wallet apps on handheld devices.

All-in-one payment processors such as PayPal Here, Shopify POS, Square and Fattmerchant offer all-in-one services to help with this upgrade process. With these options, you can start accepting mobile payments as soon as you purchase their respective readers, which run from about $50 to $150.

Another option is to choose a complete, all-in-one suite of POS tools designed for small- and medium-sized businesses. HP, for example, recently collaborated with PayPal to deliver a complete solution called Engage One Prime, which includes a set of hardware, POS software and payment processing. In addition to PayPal payment processing, HP says it will work with other select payment provider partners globally, as well as select independent software vendors (ISVs) to bundle other point-of-sale software solutions with HP Engage One Prime. The system currently supports Android 8.1 devices.

Brick-and-mortar business owners should also be sure they have a reliable Internet provider to avoid crashes and freezes and ensure optimal connectivity between customer devices and NFC readers.

3. Market the heck outta that thing

If you invest in newer mobile wallet systems, tell people about it. You’ve put in the time and spent some money. Now it’s time to reap the rewards that come when customers see you as a company committed to providing better experiences.

Gartner notes that 75 percent of organizations surveyed increase investments in customer experience technology in 2018, a testament most likely to increased demand for services that make their lives easier. Mobile wallets certainly qualify, and letting customers know about it can help your brand.

As part of any marketing campaign, however, you’ll also want to underscore the notion that mobile payments are safe. The truth is they can be just as safe as any other form of non-cash payment. Most come with preinstalled security features, and you can also set up other safeguards, such as facial scanning, fingerprint reading, PINs and password. Make sure security and privacy guidance is part of any customer communication you send about your snazzy new mobile wallet systems.

Conclusion

With current predictions that the popularity of mobile wallets and NFC payments will continue to grow, the Small Business Administration is encouraging small companies to incorporate online and mobile payments into their long-term marketing and sales strategies.

Ultimately, mobile wallets are secure, cost-effective, convenient and can offer a positive experience for your customers. As such, the sooner you get your arms around the trend, the better the outcome will be for your bottom line. A business model that includes mobile payments will help your small business reach more customers on more levels, particularly as smartphones evolve and consumers continue to rely more heavily on them.