Living in Scandinavia, I’ve observed one consumer trend that changes my buying habits significantly: Everywhere takes card. For free. Although this seems insignificant this is unlike my native Britain, where it is not uncommon to see £0.50 charges added on to any transactions under £10 in the majority of places, particularly kiosks (newsagents), cafes and bars.
Increasingly when living in London (one of the world’s biggest cities) I realised that this requirement for paper cash must be a thing of the past. This is particularly true when you consider that in the UK we use the pound, not the Euro, a currency many business people and travellers may actually have in their pockets in paper or coin form. The problem is that in the UK POS systems simply haven’t caught up with the times, small business struggle to afford the high costs, are charged a transaction fee and owners are locked into contracts. In Denmark (and Sweden and Norway) this is different, and I have little doubt that it is in many other parts of Europe too.
While I hope that there is a means to change this in the future, one way that retailers, both online and offline, can equip themselves for this, is by investing in a mobile payment solution. Having seen the popularity and the uptake of these rise significantly, whether a small business owner or marketer interested in these new technologies, I’ve scoured the web to give a rundown of some of the options that exist and provided my list of the top 3 mobile payment solutions below…
Arguably one of the sexier options available, Square is probably one of the more familiar brands offering mobile payment solutions at the moment. Their sleek design, which almost looks as though Jonathan Ive (Apple) designed it himself, and affordable fees make a particularly interesting option for accepting mobile payments.
What Square Provides
- Mobile payment – Think a local market stall, flea market or selling lemonade on the street
- In-store payment – Think restaurant, retail shop, local cafe Square Stand ($99) turns an iPad into a full POS system
- Online payment – By creating a store in Square Marketplace you can also open your products up to sell online
- Free card reader – Working across iOS and Android platforms
- Security – Automatic encryption of data on swipe
- Free POS app – Records payments, connects hardware, tracks sales data, regularly updates features
- Free online store (in Square Marketplace) – should you need it
- 2.75% per swipe
- 3.5% plus $0.15 per manually-entered transaction
- In addition to this Square are incredibly transparent regarding what other fees they may charge you, the answer is none! You pay no:
- Sign up fees
- Monthly fees
- Activation fees
- Inactivity fees
- Cancellation fees
- Chargeback fees
- Bank routing fees
Next on the list is the offering from a brand many of us will be familiar with, Paypal. Slightly different to Square’s card reader, Paypal offers a somewhat more robust card reader, in what is still not displeasing to the eye. Paypal Here integrates with the already much loved and widely used Paypal account, enabling you to view all of your business transactions, completed or pending and much much more…
- Record Cash Payments – Can support 2 different types of transactions ‘itemised’ and ‘total only’
- Accept Credit Cards & Cheques – Accept debit and credit cards as well as PayPal, log cash and cheque payments
- Supports Product Inventory – Allowing you to manage your business inventory by adding or removing items and services easily
- Paypal Payments – Transfer funds between your bank accounts linked to your Paypal account
- Submit Invoices – Issues invoices and enables the user to send instant receipts
- Customise Your Orders – Paypal Here allows you to add tax, provide discounts and enable/disable a ‘tip’ functionality should you wish
- Compatibility – Works with iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones
- Security – Paypal Here is secured by PayPal’s world-class fraud management systems.
- £99 one-off fee for the card reader
- 2.75% for every payment you accept with Chip and PIN cards or PayPal check-in
Outside of the sexy Square and the recognisable Paypal, Payleven provides an alternative solution should anyone be looking for one. Overall the product offering is very similar to those previously mentioned, however I’ve detailed the features below for comparisons sake.
- Product Catalogue – Payleven allows you to save your products/services with description, picture and price, allowing you to build up a your product inventory so that you can access them easily next time
- Multi-Account – Payleven gives you the ability to set up sub-accounts for your employees and to provide each of them can have a Chip & PIN device linked to the same bank account
- Sales Analytics – Real-time sales information provides a holistic view of the performance of each product and give you a convenient overview of your company cashflow
- Electronic Receipt – Send receipts to customers via e-mail, or directly print them on the spot with a mobile printer
- Connect to any other Printer – Should you want physical as well as digital receipts, Payleven connects with various printers in order to print receipts
- Chip & Pin Bluetooth card reader – £59.99
- Chip & Pin + Mobile Printer – £269
- 2.75% per swipe
- 3.5% plus $0.15 per manually-entered transaction
- You’ll notice that the 2.75% is the exact same pricing model as Square and Paypal….
Apple are Upping their Mobile Payment Game…
You may wonder what the relevance of this is to the industry on a whole, but recent allegations stating the interested of companies like Apple, not to mention Google (Google Wallet) and Paypal (Paypal Here), mentioned above show what bigger access to a market this could be.
Intriguingly, many trusted sources have very recently commented on the desire for Apple to acquire a mobile payment solution to extend its mobile payment offering. Tim Cook confirmed that Touch ID (the biometric capabilities of the newest iPhone handsets) was an innovative step paving the way for mobile payment.
At the time of writing Apple seem particularly interested in:
- Square – though the valuation rumoured to be around 8 Billion may cause this deal to falter
- Paypal – while Apple have held discussions with Paypal (initiated by the latter) this outcome is rumoured as unlikely
It seems that only the future will tell which takes the biggest market share and/or is acquired by Apple, however with Square already attracting $25 million investment from Starbucks, I think I know where my money is…
What Do You Think?
- Are you a small business owner?
- Do you see mobile payment solutions being the next step in improving the efficiency in taking transactions?
- Which solution would you opt for?