Retailers beware: A hesitancy to ride the wave of mobile payments could sink your business and submerge your sustainability. The traditional ebb and flow of card-centered purchases is on its way out to sea.
Trusting a mobile wallet, or near field communication (NFC) payment method, may seem dangerous, but your customers want it. And customers usually get what they want.
Understanding Your Customers’ Desires
Starbucks is a prime example of a company that understands the evolving desires of its consumers. In fact, it was one of the first to “hang-ten” on the mobile payment wave. In 2014, they were boasting more than 4 million mobile wallet payments each week. More recently, Target decided to dive in and integrated the Target Pay option with its Cartwheel app, leading to 40 million downloads.
These companies understand the three key benefits that consumers value when making a purchase: speed, ease, and security.
Mobile payments provide all three. Even if you are skeptical of this payment platform, it’s time to take the plunge and enter the mobile age. (Assuming, of course, that you want to remain relevant and profitable. Alas, the seafloor is rife with sunken businesses that refused to adapt—and were swallowed by the tides.)
Defining Mobile Payments
Mobile payment options vary. Customers can utilize NFC by holding their phones near your POS system, or opt for online methods. Regardless, mobile payments eliminate the necessity for the presence of a physical card.
These apps transform phones into mobile wallets. They keep your credit and debit card information, utilizing it when a customer makes a purchase online or in-person. And banks are developing their own brand-specific options as well. Some popular apps include:
- Apple Pay
- Samsung Pay
- Android Pay
- Square Cash
Revealing What’s Great About Them
According to Business Insider research, the in-store use of mobile payments will climb to $503 billion by 2020. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 80% over five years.
Consumers are becoming far more reliant on mobile purchasing. Insiders predict that 150 million Americans will be using in-store mobile payments by 2020 – that’s more than half the adult population. And what they want is speed, ease, and security.
Holding a phone near a POS system may not seem faster than swiping a card, but the fact that seconds are shaved off the process makes it worthwhile to many people. This is particularly true for EMV payments, which can delay payment processing times and may lead more people to switch to mobile options.
We live in an on-demand, quick-service world. Waiting for a card to process makes people cranky. If they’re in line behind someone waiting for card processing, they could potentially exit the store.
Adopting mobile payments in your retail business will enable less-than-patient people to get in and out – just like they want. They will be instantly gratified, and you won’t run the risk of customer loss due to processing times.
With the desire for speed comes the longing for ease. People are both impatient and easily distracted. Digging through a wallet to find the right card, remember pin numbers, and then sign on the dotted line, can be time-consuming. Sticking a phone next to a POS system, however, is a one-step process (and let’s face it, nowadays most people probably already have their phones in their hands anyway).
It’s retail 101. Keeping your customers happy is directly linked to your business’ longevity. Knowing that your customers desire ease at the checkout counter should inspire you to have processing abilities worthy of their expectations.
Given the epic amounts of fraud and security breaches in the news today, it’s no wonder that consumers are security-focused. No one wants to run the risk of having their personal information stolen, or funds used in fraudulent ways. Though there are security measures in place for credit card authentication, clever fraudsters can quickly circumnavigate those barriers.
Mobile payments provide consumers with an added sense of security: No one else has access to their cards – or their pin numbers – because they are safely stored on their personal mobile devices. Some mobile wallets and apps will even require biometric verification prior to processing the transaction. That lessens a customer’s fear of having his or her phone (and thereby card information) misappropriated.
Giving Them What They Want
Although you may not realize it, many of the modern POS and mPOS systems are already NFC-ready (if you had to update for EMV, then your POS is de facto enabled). A friction-free transition to mobile payment acceptance is the goal.
When you enable your customers to make mobile payments, your customer retention rates will skyrocket. Research has proven that it’s 50 percent easier to retain current customers than acquire new ones.
Offering your customers mobile payment options can benefit your business in more ways than one. Being able to recognize customers via mobile identities allows you to customize coupons to send directly promotions to your clients’ phones. (Additional data provided by mobile payment processing companies can further streamline your marketing and hone your merchandising.)
Taking the Plunge
Adopting mobile payment platforms is surprisingly easy and cost-effective. NFC terminals – which are standard requirements for accepting many mobile payment platforms – are your biggest expenditure when taking the plunge. As stated earlier, many of the EMV terminals you’ve had to purchase already have NFC capabilities, so you might be more prepared than you realize.
Training your employees requires an investment, but once you’re swimming with the likes of Starbucks and Target, you’ll see significant ROI — since accepting mobile payments can reduce your card swiping fees by roughly 10%.
Security concerns will remain a struggle, but they are being minimized by the increased availability of PIN protection, remote blocking, and one-time password options offered by big names like Gemalto, McAfee, and Symantec. And, thanks to non-bank entrants such as Amazon, Apple, and Google, the mobile payment landscape will continue to broaden.EMV regulations may have initially been an irritant, but they could be the catalyst for faster, easier, safer payments for you and your customers.
Welcome the mobile payments tides of change – and see what treasures they bring.
Monica Eaton-Cardone is the COO of Chargebacks911. She specializes in threat metric analysis, technology system development, eCommerce retention, and risk relativity. Eaton-Cardone is an award-winning entrepreneur and respected thought leader in the payments industry.