Depending on who you ask, the term “mobile payments” means a lot of different things. With new mobile payment technologies popping up all the time, it can be confusing and even frustrating. Both merchants and consumers might ask:
- What type of technology do I need?
- Will my existing point-of-sale terminals continue to work?
- What apps do I need to download and install?
- How secure is the technology?
- Is it easy to use?
- Are there any hidden fees?
- How will my customers respond to it?
Because “mobile payments” has become a catch-all phrase for both paying and accepting, it’s useful to separate consumer-facing mobile payment apps from merchant-facing mobile payments acceptance. On the consumer-facing side, regarding mobile wallet apps, there are a lot of different options and technologies all trying to accomplish the same thing. When speaking about merchant-facing mobile acceptance solutions – often called mPOS or mobile point-of-sale – there are real solutions to real problems, and the value-proposition is clear.
In the world of consumer-facing mobile payment apps, there is a perplexing array of offerings. Each app leverages different technologies, different standards for security, and varying levels of ease-of-use. Some apps store payment credentials on a protected area of software that is dedicated to protecting sensitive data. Some apps store this information in the cloud, others on SIM cards, and others are embedded directly into a mobile device’s hardware.
The consumer-facing mobile wallet market continues to evolve and will get a big boost in Canada when solutions like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay enter the market. So what does this mean for consumers and merchants?
The main question that consumers are asking is whether these mobile apps make every day purchasing easier, or if they are just a gimmick. Each wallet will be tested in the market. If a mobile wallet is secure, reduces the number of cards required by a consumer, and adapts to changing consumer behavior, then it could have value.
What is a merchant supposed to think?
Right now merchants are in the position of trying to figure out how all of this affects their businesses. They question the necessity and feasibility of adopting new payment-accepting technologies to keep up with evolving market trends. Merchants are left wondering if their existing payment terminals are sufficient, or if there’s a need to invest in new hardware, new partners, new processes and new training routines.
For merchants, mobile is useful and the value proposition is clear
Thankfully, the merchant-facing side of mobile payments has clear and definitive business benefits. Mobile for merchants offers clear solutions to real problems.
- Accept payments from anywhere in the store
- Upstairs, downstairs, in the back of the store, in the front, in the supply room, in the warehouse, pop-up locations – it doesn’t matter and it’s all possible with a mobile point-of-sale.
- Traditional long-range and short-range wireless payment terminals are, in some sense, mobile. However, the traditional wireless terminal does not have the built-in inventory, customer, and employee management capabilities that most tablet point-of-sale solutions offer.
- Merchants can easily and quickly open additional checkout lanes with mobile, during peak periods, for example.
- Accept payments from outside the store
- Kiosks, pop-up locations, temporary storefronts, weekend markets, exhibitions, delivery services, and more are all payment ready with mobile
- Are customers frustrated by long lineups during peak periods? Get them out of the line and happily out of the store by taking payments on-the-spot with mobile
- Complement existing payment terminals or run an entire store by mobile infrastructure
- Mobile payment-accepting solutions don’t have to be viewed as a replacement for existing payment processing infrastructure. Mobile can be seen as an adjacent solution; something to manage payment acceptance in places and in ways that traditional point-of-sales terminals cannot.
- We are seeing a growing trend in many industries – restaurants, most prominently – where merchants are beginning to replace all of their traditional point-of-sales with mobile, tablet-based solutions.
- Value-added services
- Many merchant-facing mobile solutions offer functionality that is often mission-critical but not directly connected to payments. For example, inventory management, customer management, dashboards, reporting, accounting, store and back-office administration, employee management, loyalty programs, couponing.
- Easy to use, easy to train
- Mobile payment-accepting apps are designed to be user-friendly. Users can expect to become comfortable with these apps quickly; training employees is a reasonable task.
It’s clear that mobile payments for merchants are different than mobile payments for consumers. While the consumer-side (mobile wallets) can be confusing and fragmented while it evolves, merchant-facing solutions offer easily defined benefits. We often hear merchants making the statement, “Just help me run my business better than before.”
By leveraging mobile payment-accepting solutions, merchants will indeed discover a better way to run their businesses. Mobile doesn’t require a massive infrastructure change; it’s simple to implement, user-friendly for customers and employees; and, when used to take payments from anywhere and at any time, mobile can open new channels and create additional business opportunities.
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