How nice is it when you walk into Apple, you find a product you like and talk to one of the million customer service reps about it, decide you like it, and bam! — walk away hassle free without having to get in another line to make a payment.
Retail stores like Apple along with flight attendants have been using handheld devices for a few years. It wasn't until these past months other businesses jumped on the bandwagon and started processing payment wirelessly. So, whether or not you want to mirror Apple's model (and set up your own internal app system for your business), or conduct business as you travel from location to location with just your phone, there's an easy way (and an app!) to accept other forms of payment besides cash.
Intuit's product GoPayment appeals to small business owners because it allows electricians, technicians, and others in the "field" to collect payment using existing cell phones. No longer are the days where bills are mailed — with the potential loss of Saturday Postal Service delivery — and no longer are the days of lost mail.
What are some of the other popular apps buzzing with the small business community? MerchantWARE, for one, sells the fact the service is an "encrypted and secure SSL connection and also gives 24/7 access to reports." iTerminal, on the other hand, allows a credit card number to be verified as you enter it so you'll immediately see approval; however, you may have to pay a higher percentage rate with your merchant account provider for entering in the number instead of swiping a card.
mTerminal is known for its capability for easy email receipts and void transactions — all which could be beneficial if you operate a retail store, or are a traveling salesmen where you are selling cleaning products door-to-door (do they still even exist?).
Now, even though you have the application, it doesn't mean it will work — it all depends on your phone carrier and type. If you want to avoid higher transaction fees and human error mistakes because you manually enter the credit card number in your phone, you'll need a magnetic strip reader to swipe credit cards. Here are two that are coming on the marketplace soon (both for the iPhone though):
- Mophie allows you to sync account information and charge a customer using an iPhone through a micro USB port. Of course, the makers designed it so it has to pair with the Mophie marketplace App, which is exclusively available in the App Store. Figures.
- Square hooks up to an audio input jack and can be used in most devices that have audio jacks and an Internet connection. You are able to send text and email receipts as well.
Now, on the flip side, as a business owner, spending money on office products and outsourced services via your mobile device is also becoming faster and easier — as it should be. In 2009, according to Garner, Inc., the number of mobile payment users reached 73.4 million. It's predicted that number will go up to 190 million by 2012. Banks are sprinting to the finish line to release apps and more and more credit card issuers are advocating online banking and making plans for apps to their customers. For example, American Express currently sends text message alerts when payments are received or if any strange activity is taking place on an account.
It may be a few years before mobile payment goes mainstream, and when it does, I'd imagine they'll be more security issues and concerns because the larger volume will gain hackers attention. For now, most apps are going through smart phones, and since less people are using, there are not as many security and risk concerns just yet.
These apps are no different than a business using a credit card terminal or a consumer using online banking, except now, it's done over that four-inch device you carry around in your pocket.
Resource Nation connects businesses with local and national vendors in over 100 categories such as telemarketing and credit card processing. Betsy Brottlund is the Director of Marketing for Resource Nation and VoIP Service.