As consumer payment grows increasingly cashless, accepting credit cards and contactless payments like Apple Pay is vital for small business sales. Mobile payment processing enables small businesses to accept card payments anywhere via smartphone or tablet apps.
This guide covers everything small businesses should know about mobile payments including top solutions, features, integrations, security best practices, costs, and selecting the right provider.
## Benefits of Mobile Payment Acceptance
Key advantages mobile payment processing offers small businesses:
– **Convenience** – Take payments and complete sales anywhere – in-store, delivery, events, pop-ups. No need to wait until back at the office.
– **Flexibility** – Accept payments at trade shows, client meetings, off-site events, and wherever business occurs.
– **More Revenue** – Never miss a sale just because a customer doesn’t have cash. Accept every payment.
– **Modern Branding** – Mobile POS conveys tech-savviness and convenience that customers expect these days.
– **Low Cost** – Avoid expensive traditional POS system. Most mobile processors offer free card readers.
– **Accounting Integration** – Send transaction data directly into accounting software or spreadsheets. No manual entry.
Mobile payment abilities help small business owners simplify sales, reduce hardware costs, always accept payments, and improve customer experience.
## How Mobile Payment Processing Works
Mobile POS solutions allow accepting card payments through a smartphone or tablet app. Here’s an overview:
– Download mobile POS app from provider like Square or Clover.
– Connect mobile card reader via Bluetooth or headphone jack. Many now use EMV/contactless.
– When making a sale, enter amount in app and let customer tap, dip, or swipe card using reader.
– Payment processes quickly through the app without any separate POS hardware needed.
– Sales data automatically syncs to accounting software reducing administrative work.
– Funds deposit directly into your business bank account, usually within 1-2 days.
Simple to use, mobile POS empowers small businesses to take payments anywhere while automatically tracking sales data.
## Top Mobile Payment Apps and Providers
Several providers offer dedicated mobile payment apps tailored for small businesses:
**Square** – Most widely used mobile POS app. Offers transparent pricing with free EMV/contactless reader. Best for service businesses with in-person payments.
**PayPal Zettle** – In addition to in-person payments, supports online invoicing and payments. Integrates with PayPal ecosystem.
**Clover** – Robust iPad POS system for larger sellers. Features include inventory management, loyalty programs, and sophisticated analytics.
**Shopify POS** – Optimized for retail and ecommerce. Integrates with Shopify online store. iPad app and cash drawers available.
**Toast** – Specialized restaurant POS with menu management, staff tools, and built-in accounting capabilities.
**Venmo** – Can use personal peer-to-peer Venmo app as basic mobile POS. Best only for very low volume. No card reader needed.
Assess sales volumes, sales channel mix (online, in-person, etc), and features to select best fit.
## Key Mobile Card Reader Types
Mobile POS apps work with card readers that accept payments on the go. Major card reader options:
**Chip + Contactless** – Accepts tap payments like Apple Pay along with chip cards. Most secure and convenient option.
**3.5mm Audio Jack** – Plugs into smartphone headphone jack. Allows swiping traditional magnetic stripe cards.
**Bluetooth** – Connects wirelessly to mobile device, increasing flexibility. But requires charging.
**Contactless Only** – Accepts mobile wallet taps but doesn’t read chip cards. Usefulness limited.
Ideally choose a provider offering an EMV and contactless enabled card reader at no cost. This future-proofs mobile POS acceptance.
## Integrations With Other Business Software
A major benefit of mobile POS systems is seamless integration with other business software including:
– **Accounting** – Send transaction data to QuickBooks, Xero, FreshBooks and others to simplify reconciliation.
– **Inventory** – Connect inventory management system so levels automatically update with each sale in real-time.
– **CRM/CMS** – Integrate customer records and conversations from CRM platforms. Pull product catalogs from CMS.
– **Appointments** – Connect scheduled appointments from Calendly or another scheduler to instantly charge for sessions.
– **Ordering** – Combine with ecommerce platform to handle pre-orders, curbside pickup orders.
– **Loyalty** – Automatically apply loyalty program discounts and rewards.
Choosing a mobile POS with robust integration ecosystem saves time, reduces errors from manual re-entry, and centralizes data.
## Security Best Practices for Mobile Payments
To secure payment card data, mobile POS solutions must adhere to PCI compliance and implement encryption, tokenization, and other security controls similar to traditional POS systems. Tips for businesses:
– **Use Company App Account** – Ensure the app ties back to your business entity rather than a personal account for better fraud protection.
– **Follow Provider Recommendations** – Use supported devices tested for security rather than unsupported phones or tablets.
– **Install Updates** – Keep POS app and device OS patched and up-to-date to receive security fixes.
– **Enable Device Lock** – Password protect mobile device to prevent unauthorized access if stolen. Use fingerprint or face unlock for convenience.
– **Minimize Stored Card Data** – Avoid retaining customer card information wherever possible. Delete after the transaction.
– **Monitor Statements** – Review transactions regularly to identify irregularities that could indicate fraud.
With the right mobile processor and smart practices, small businesses can accept payments from anywhere while keeping data secure.
## Cost Considerations for Mobile Payments
Mobile POS costs include:
**Hardware** – Most providers offer a mobile card reader free or a one-time cost around $30-$50. Ensure it supports EMV chip cards.
**Software** – Expect monthly or annual subscription fees for the mobile POS app in the range of $5-$50/month generally.
**Transaction Fees** – Key cost is the percentage charged per transaction amount (often 2.5% – 3.5%) plus a small fixed per transaction fee.
**Additional Services** – Add-ons like loyalty programs, enhanced analytics, appointment scheduling may come with fees.
**Card Types** – Different rates may apply for swiped, dipped, tapped, or manually entered payments.
When estimating costs, factor monthly transaction volume and average payment amount into projected fees. Compare pricing between providers.
## How to Choose the Best Mobile POS
Follow this process to determine the ideal mobile payment solution:
– Outline must-have features based on sales channels, inventory needs, data integrations required, etc.
– Research top providers that offer required functionality and integrate with your tech stack.
– Compare hardware, software pricing, transaction fee rates, and bundled features between top choices.
– Sign up for demos and free trials to test options using dummy transactions.
– Select top choice aligned with business needs and budget. Negotiate rates if possible based on expected volume.
– Implement security protocols like unique business user accounts and device passwords.
– Train staff on usage and safety best practices for accepting payments in the field.
Choosing the right mobile POS provides small businesses the flexibility to accept payments anywhere while streamlining back-office reconciliation and reducing hardware costs. Carefully evaluate providers to find the best fit solution.