Business is now transacted on the move. According to the latest figures from the UK Cards Association, total spending on payment cards in April 2018 reached $77 billion (around £61 billion), with rises partly attributable to the impact of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Richard Koch, head of policy at the UK Cards Association, said: "Making a contactless payment is fast, easy and secure. With so many retailers now accepting this technology, we are sure consumers will continue to vote with their wallets and use contactless cards as their preferred way to pay."
There is no doubt that the success of contactless payments is heralding a new era of mobile commerce. Consumers want to pay quickly and conveniently, and contactless payments are predicted to become the predominant way to pay with Juniper Research expecting them to account for 53% of POS transactions by 2022.
For SMBs, offering the right payment methods has always been a vital component of their businesses. With more consumers wanting to buy on the move, ensuring your business has the right mobile payment methods is a commercial imperative that can't be ignored.
The smartphone and tablet have not only delivered a mobile digital wallet to consumers, but this technology can also be used by your business to enhance its payment systems. With the addition of some low-cost hardware coupled with an app, it is possible to turn a smartphone or tablet into a fully functional payment device.
Let’s look at some great choices to transform your smartphone into a mobile payment platform. We made our selections based on the best features, lowest prices, and both user and professional reviews.
SumUp is mobile card reader that is available in 31 countries, although it is a more recent entry to the US market. Notably, it supports cards with EMV, popularly known as the newer ‘chip cards,’ and is powered via a micro-USB port, and has a lithium ion battery.
This mobile card reader solution is well suited to lower volume users as it offers a fixed 2.65% transaction cost, with no monthly fee, or minimum usage level. The card reader is available for a one time fee of $69 (£55), and connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone with a downloadable app.
There is also support for a wide variety of credit cards, including MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover Card, as well as the newer services Apple Pay and Google Pay. Payouts to your bank account take an efficient one to two days. Unfortunately, the card reader is required for any transaction to occur, as transactions cannot be manually entered.
Shopify offers an entire suite of merchant services. Here we are focusing on its mobile POS system, that targets selling at “fairs, markets, pop-ups, and everywhere in‑between,” making this an attractive solution for a business on the move with a pocket-sized card reader. The chip and swipe reader is also free, sweetening this deal even further.
In addition to the mobile card reader offering, this also integrates into Shopify solutions including the Shopify POS smartphone app.
Shopify offers three plans, with the starting tier being the Basic Shopify Plan costing $29 (£23) per month – it also has transaction fees of 2.9% plus $0.30 (£0.24) per transaction. Furthermore, there is an additional 2% fee for any payment provider other than Shopify payments.
PayPal Here is the mobile card reader offering from the online transaction juggernaut that brings instant name brand recognition to this space. A definite plus is a low cost of entry in terms of acquiring the card reader, and there are accessories on offer such as a bouncepad and charger to complete a professional package.
The PayPal Mobile Card Reader that can handle card swipes is available for an affordable $15 (£12), and connects to the phone via the headphone jack, with interaction facilitated via a smartphone app.
A better choice for many is the option to upgrade to the more modern Chip and Swipe Reader for $25 (£20), though the transaction fee is on the higher side at 2.7%. While the companion app offers plenty of features for invoicing and tracking, users describe the customer support as less than consistent.
Intuit, best known for TurboTax, produces the QuickBooks small business accounting offering, and under that umbrella is its mobile card reader effort, which is known as QuickBooks Payments.
The GoPayment smartphone app is notable, and this has a companion card reader, both of which come for no additional charge. Unlike free card readers from competing services, this one from Quickbooks Payments can handle both mag-stripe and chip methods of entry, and connects to the smartphone wirelessly via Bluetooth.
Another benefit of this service is that there is no setup fee, or any minimum usage level, making QuickBooks Payments more attractive for the lower volume user.
Transaction fees are not the lowest with this otherwise slick offering as they cost 2.4% plus $0.25 (£0.20) for each swipe, and for a keyed entry this rises to a lofty 3.4% plus $0.25 (£0.20) for each transaction.
PayAnywhere is a mobile card reader solution that integrates into the larger PayAnywhere ecosystem. This reader accepts the full range of payments, including traditional magnetic swipe, newer chip payments, and even the latest contactless payments, including Samsung Pay.
The entry-level reader is free, connects via Bluetooth, and can do both swipe and chip transactions; an upgraded reader also supports contactless transactions.
The notable feature of the PayAnywhere card reader is that it is part of the larger family of PayAnywhere services. These include being able to send invoices from within their app, accepting card payments on your website, and being able to apply discounts to invoices.
For the Pay-As-You-Go plan, there is no monthly fee, with a transaction fee of 2.69% plus a free card reader is included. The upgraded Standard Plan reduces the transaction fee to a low 1.69%, but requires signing up to reveal the monthly fee.