Mobile Credit Card Processing – Is It for Me?
One really exciting development enabled by the Internet is the re-birth of small businesses featuring unique, hand-crafted items. Websites like Etsy allow furniture makers, jewelers, clothing designers and others to cheaply reach a global market of enthusiastic customers. And now that there is a viable business driven by the online marketplace in these types of hand-crafted items, there is a new popularity of such wares at local festivals and craft markets. Interestingly, the online space is changing retail at bricks and mortar locations. If you are a small business person – especially if you sell goods at festivals and other temporary locations where you don’t have a permanent business establishment, you may be interested in mobile credit card acceptance. The new technologies are cheap, secure and easy to use. Let’s take a quick look at some of the new technologies and sift through the possibilities.
The first issue to think about – the issue that drives the other aspects of mobile credit card acceptance – is the method that the physical card uses to connect with the credit card acceptance system. The method that most people are familiar with is as old as credit cards themselves – a magnetic strip on the back of the card is swiped through a reader and thereby transfers the information about the credit card account to the computer. A much more modern technology is one in which the credit card has a micro-chip embedded in its surface. Instead of swiping the card, the payor inserts the card into the card reader (“dips” the card) and the chip on the front of the card makes physical contact with the electronics inside the reader. The third and newest method starting to appear in retail establishments is one based on “near field communication” (NFC). An NFC-based credit card acceptance system does not require physical contact like the others. It operates using radio waves and bring the two devices within about 4 inches of one another is usually sufficient for the data transfer to occur.
Apple Pay, Google Wallet
Now that you understand the methods of connection, we can talk about the newest payment systems that are coming out from tech leaders Apple and Google. Both of these systems are based on NFC technology and are extremely mobile. If your smartphone is equipped with NFC technology, then you don’t need any additional hardware at all to pay with either Apple Pay or Google Wallet. For the vast majority of people, the decision between using Apple Pay or Google Wallet will be as simple as which kind of smartphone you already have. Those who favor the iPhone will naturally use Apple Pay, while those using any Android-based phone can use Google Wallet.
Accepting Payment From Your Smartphone
Accepting payment via credit cards is slightly more complicated than making payments from your smartphone but it’s still pretty straightforward. The standard way most businesses start to accept credit cards is by first establishing a merchant account with a bank and then signing up with a credit card processing company. You can sign up to accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover and, once you’ve done that, activating the option to use Apple Pay and Google Wallet is easy. It is important to remember that you will have to pay a transaction fee for the convenience of being able to use credit cards in your small business. An even simpler way to get started is through using Paypal – which does not require a separate merchant account – but you may find that the fees are a bit higher. Finally, you will need to get your smartphone ready to accept credit cards by loading the correct software on the phone and then by getting hardware either for swipe cards, “dip and pay” cards with a chip and for Apple Pay and Google Wallet (NFC tech). Obviously, the more versatile your hardware, the broader range of customers you can serve.
Some of these procedures may seem technical and confusing, but they really aren’t. If you are a solo or small business person, come in and see us and we can help explain everything you need to know.