Credit: Mobile payment image via Shutterstock
Accepting mobile payments —whether by accepting credit cards in the field or by letting users pay on-site with smartphones —is a must for businesses of all types. Figuring out which mobile payment technology is right for your business can be a challenge.
If you're looking for a no-frills approach to mobile credit card processing, then check out Square. With no monthly fees, no contracts and no merchant accounts, Square is a good solution for those who only occasionally need mobile payment processing.
Square links directly with your bank account and accepts payments from all major credit card companies. Its transaction fee of 2.75 percent is a little steep, but with no additional monthly fees, you could end up saving money with Square if you don't use it regularly.
At $12.95 a month, Intuit's GoPayment for iOS and Android devices is another great option for business owners looking for a mobile credit card processor.
The hardware required for swiping credit cards comes at no additional charge, and transaction fees are competitive, at 1.75 percent of total sales. GoPayment accepts all major credit cards and offers email receipts for customers.
If your business is already using QuickBooks or another Intuit Payment Solutions software, then GoPayment might be a great choice for you. It automatically syncs with your accounting software, helping you easily manage your books, even on the go.
Voted No. 1 by TopTenReviews, ROAMpay, from Flagship Merchant Services, is a popular mobile payment solution for businesses on the go. With low transaction fees — 1.58 percent of each sale —and easy-to-use features, ROAMpay is the top of the crop when it comes to mobile credit card processing.
The card reader that attaches to your smartphone is free, and the total monthly access fee is $7.95, with no mandatory contract. ROAMpay accepts payments from all major credit cards and is compatible with Android, iOS and Blackberry devices.
The service also stores your customers' contact information —a boon for future marketing campaigns —and sends email receipts.
Most mobile credit card processing companies only allow you to accept credit cards from customers, but PayPal Here allows business owners much more flexibility. With this app and accompanying hardware, your customers can pay using their debit cards or even their mobile PayPal account.
Card-free transactions are easy with PayPal. Customers check in with your business on their mobile PayPal app and then transfer funds to your account to settle their bill. The cost per transaction is 2.7 percent of the final sale, and there are no additional setup costs or monthly fees.
PayPal Here accepts all major credit cards and is a great option for businesses that want to offer their customers a variety of ways to pay for goods and services.
Using near field communication (NFC), Google Wallet allows businesses to accept payments both online and in-store. This quick payment method is a great option for merchants looking to cut back on long lines or those wanting to expand their online customer base.
For in-store transactions, businesses that don't already have an NFC reader can buy or rent one from Google's partner, First Data. Customers with Android phones running the Google Wallet app will then be able to hold their device over the reader to make a payment.
Merchants pay the normal card-present fees for Google Wallet transactions, with no additional charges from Google. Your business can also link its customer loyalty cards or Google Offers to its Google Wallet merchant account to let customers redeem rewards with a single tap of the smartphone.
If your business already uses a payment-processing service online, Google Wallet can be integrated with the service for no extra cost. Or, you can use Google as your new payment processor, with transaction fees starting at 1.9 percent.
The ISIS Mobile Wallet is another NFC-enabled payment method recently launched as a joint venture between Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Although it's currently only available in select markets, ISIS is poised to be Google Wallet's main competition in the near future.
To get started with ISIS, your business will need an NFC reader, which you can rent or buy from your merchant services provider or one of ISIS' partners, listed here. ISIS doesn't charge additional transaction fees for merchants or customers.
MasterCard's PayPass lets your business accept fast payments through an NFC-enabled point-of-sale (POS) terminal. Customers can tap their NFC-enabled credit card or smartphone over the terminal to make a payment.
PayPass vendors must either purchase a plug-in NFC reader from MasterCard or install a fully integrated POS system from the company. MasterCard does not charge vendors additional usage or transaction fees for the PayPass system.
Having a PayPass terminal in place at your register will allow your business to accept many forms of contactless payments, not just those made with MasterCard. Google Wallet and ISIS Mobile Wallet both can be used with PayPass readers.
MasterCard also offers a secure digital wallet — the MasterPass —that your business can use to make checkout easier for customers. The service is currently free for both merchants and customers.
Much like MasterCard's PayPass, Visa's payWave allows customers to make contactless payments at a business' POS terminal.
To start accepting contactless payments, businesses can either purchase a new, NFC-enabled POS terminal from Visa, or buy a peripheral NFC reader to add to their existing terminal.
It isn't necessary for businesses to purchase multiple NFC readers from different credit card companies. Visa, MasterCard and American Express all issue NFC-enabled cards and devices that use the same radio-frequency technology.
Visa also offers a digital wallet —V.me —that allows customers to store all of their credit card information online for safe and simple checkouts. No information about the fees and transaction costs for vendors using V.me are currently published on Visa's website.
LevelUp is an app for merchants that allows them to accept mobile payments from any customer, without a credit card, regardless of whether or not they have a smartphone.
Merchants use a LevelUp terminal, which integrates with their existing POS system, to scan the quick response (QR) code on a customer's smartphone or LevelUp card.
In addition to making mobile payments quick and easy, LevelUp lets businesses create unique loyalty programs for customers. Regulars automatically receive credit to their LevelUp account when they frequent their favorite merchants. And the app gives business owners access to a range of powerful analytical tools, so they can keep track of customers and their purchases.
LevelUp's Interchange Zero payment network is free. The company doesn't charge transaction fees or charge for hardware. Instead, merchants are charged for running marketing campaigns with LevelUp. Merchants pay 40 cents for every dollar of credit redeemed by a customer.
This cloud-based app lets businesses manage payments across multiple sites, payment types and currencies, right from their smartphones. It's a great solution for online businesses and those with customers around the globe.
mPowa's integrated-POS app enables businesses to send and receive money in over 22 major currencies to avoid paying international transaction fees and foreign exchange fees. The company gives merchants access to hundreds of international banks and payment services.
The "chip and PIN" system is not yet available, but the company's website is allowing preregistration for the service, which is expanding into the United States. mPowa charges a 2.95 percent fee per transaction, plus 49.99 pounds (about $77) for the chip and PIN reader.
This company's POS app works with credit cards, debit cards, cash, e-check and coupons to allow merchants to accept payments from customers around the world, even if they don't have a bank account.
And in addition to its wide array of payment options, PayToo offers international direct-deposit services for employees, free money transfers to other PayToo users and prepaid international credit cards.
If your business needs a mobile payment solution with diverse capabilities and a global reach, PayToo might be the right option for you.
This app allows merchants to accept payments from customers using only mobile telephone numbers. Merchants can choose to add Boku as payment option on their website, mobile site or app.
Customers simply enter their mobile-phone number, and payments are added directly to their phone bill. No bank accounts or registration are required.
Boku does not publish pricing information for merchants on its website, but you can apply for a Boku account online by providing your business's basic info.
Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) is the retail world's attempt to take mobile payments into its own hands, instead of entrusting them to the corporations behind Google Wallet, ISIS and other mobile platforms.
Details about exactly how the app will work are scarce, but MCX's press releases state that the venture will offer merchants a "mobile commerce solution that seamlessly integrates payments with a wide range of promotions and services through virtually any smartphone."
A representative of MCX said the venture is seeing interest from merchants of all sizes, so business owners should keep their eyes open for opportunities involving this novel mobile payment option. [See also: Financial Incentives Encourage Mobile Purchasing]
This mobile-payment app from CSI Enterprises allows businesses to create virtual MasterCards for employee and operating expenses.
If your business needs a mobile solution for controlling its bottom line, globalVcard may be a great option for you. You can take full control over your expenses by issuing single-use credit cards that can be used to pay for anything.
You can even restrict how employees use the card or send a mobile payment to one of your vendors via text or email.