The Green Sheet Online Edition
March 28, 2011 • Issue 11:03:02
Are you missing the mobile payment train?
The ability to accept credit card payments while on the go is essential today, and merchants are losing sales if they aren't taking advantage of mobile payment opportunities. Given recent technological advances, it doesn't cost thousands of dollars to integrate mobile solutions. By implementing them, merchants can save thousands instead.
Roger Entner, Senior Vice President of Telecom Practice at The Nielsen Co., estimates that by the end of 2011 smart phones will overtake standard wireless phones in the United States. With so many people obtaining smart phones, half the battle of mobile payment integration is already complete.
Many merchants now believe they no longer need to lease or purchase terminals, sign long-term contracts and pay a monthly fee for the privilege of processing electronic payments. And they are finding solutions through nontraditional payment providers. Using free software downloaded via the Internet, merchants can accept credit cards anywhere in the world as long as their phones have data connections.
Payment professionals need not cede this expanding arena to alternative mobile payment providers that lack meaningful, personal relationships with merchants. ISOs can offer free software and hardware that allow smart phones to accept card payments - and at highly competitive rates. It's time for all ISOs to investigate how to add mobile payment acceptance to their product offerings. Adding them to the mix of proven payment options and value-added services will provide better service to merchants.
The question of security
Some may doubt the security of mobile processing. The key is for smart phones serving as card terminals to employ encrypted swipe solutions. Data encryption employs algorithmic schemes that transform plain text into cipher text, which is unreadable to unauthorized parties. Also, to be PCI compliant, merchants must never store card information on mobile phones. When mobile payment hardware employs encryption, data flowing from the swipe device to the phone is already encrypted, and the encrypted information is sent from the phone to the secure payment gateway for processing.
The merchant then receives a confirmation that the card number is good and the charge has been processed through an encrypted connection. Consumers' worries are also allayed by mobile processing because their credit cards never leave their sight, and no credit card imprints or receipts remain on merchants' premises.
Pluses of mobile solutions
Here are five reasons mobile solutions are strong:
- Increased merchant sales: All types of industries are switching to mobile processing. Customers don't always carry cash, and offering another, on-the-spot payment option increases sales, especially when the method is more convenient than cash.
- Portability: Merchants can accept credit cards anywhere they do business and from any location on the sales floor. There is no reason to transport hardware or spend thousands of dollars on additional terminals to add mobile payment functionality.
- Secure transactions: Data is transmitted securely. Mobile processing can even cut back on fraud. For example, merchants can lose checks or cash when on the road, and checks can bounce. Also, check processing typically requires that multiple individuals handle sensitive consumer information. Not so with mobile payments.
- Fast processing: It is extremely fast to set up a mobile account. Funds are also transferred quickly to the merchant's bank - instantly or within a few days.
- Low cost: Some mobile credit card processing services do not have contracts, termination fees or monthly minimums. Some payment apps may be free to download but have a monthly fee of $5 because the swipe device used is hardware encrypted. However, mobile processing is significantly less costly than traditional payment solutions overall.
It makes sense for payment professionals to become well-acquainted with mobile payment options and to learn how to help merchants integrate them with other payment products and services. This will foster greater merchant satisfaction and lead to stickier relationships in the end.
Nicholas Cucci is the Director of Marketing for Network Merchants Inc., a graduate of Benedictine University and a licensed Certified Fraud Examiner. Cucci is also a member of the Advisory Board & Anti-Fraud Technology Committee for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. NMI builds e-commerce payment gateways for companies that want to process transactions online in real time anywhere in the world. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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