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So you've finally decided to ditch traditional point-of-sale (POS) systems and accept credit cards using a mobile device — only to find that there are a plethora of mobile credit card processors on the Web, from big names to those that are a hairline short of borderline legitimate. The obvious choice is the name you recognize the most, right? Not so fast. Like many other service providers, the easiest choice isn't always the best or most affordable one. To help you find the right mobile credit card processor for your business — and avoid any future headaches — ask these five questions before signing up with just any vendor.
1. What hardware does your business need?
When it comes to choosing mobile credit card processing hardware, there are two main points to consider: the type of mobile device you wish to use and whether or not you need a credit card reader.
Smartphone, tablet or both?
Most mobile credit card processing services use an iPhone and iPad to process credit cards. (Many also offer an option to use an Android device, while a select few will let you use a BlackBerry.) Here's the tricky part: Does your business require only an iPhone, an iPad or both? Although both an iPhone and iPad will allow you to process credit cards anywhere — around your store or at events — an iPad can also replace your POS system and act as a stand-alone terminal, which can become the central hub for all of your transactions and sales processes. [26 Ways to Accept Mobile Payments]
To swipe or not to swipe?
There are two ways to process credit cards using a mobile device: swiping and scanning. The first option requires a separate credit card reader, typically a small dongle that attaches to the mobile device (Square, PayPal Here). The second option is to scan the credit card using the device's camera (Flint Mobile), eliminating the need for extra hardware. The choice boils down to a matter of convenience and which method you and your staff will find easier to use, both on a regular basis and during peak hours.
2. Is the app easy to use?
No one likes having to learn new business systems. That's why it's so important to choose a mobile credit card processor that offers an easy-to-use platform — one that won't take several training sessions for your staff to master.
Most mobile credit card processors use a simple mobile app to process transactions. Where it can get complicated is if you choose to use a complete mobile POS system. Unlike using a mobile device solely to process credit cards, a mobile POS system includes advanced features, such as inventory management, loyalty programs, analytics, detailed reporting capabilities and more. Before signing up with a vendor, ask for a demo of their app or software and inquire about the type of training provided.
3. Does it integrate with existing systems?
One of the biggest advantages of using mobile devices to process credit cards is that the technology can save businesses time and money by integrating day-to-day transactions with back-end systems. This means data is synced and updated in real time across different departments or areas of your business, eliminating the need to manually enter information. Some examples of back-office integration are:
- Accounting. GoPayment integrates with QuickBooks, as does ClickPOS with Xero's cloud-based accounting solution
- Customer relationship management (CRM). Revel Systems' CRM-enabled POS enables data to be exported directly to popular CRM solutions like Salesforce, SugarCRM and Magento
- E-commerce. Shopify POS "bridges the gap" and synchronizes in-store sales data with online sales
So what's the problem? Some vendors' integration capabilities may not be compatible with your existing systems. As illustrated above, there are also vendors whose features only integrate with their own or designated third-party service providers. Before signing up with a mobile credit card processor, make sure that all of its advertised integrations will work with the systems you already use. This small precaution helps you avoid paying for features you can't actually use.
[For a side-by-side comparison of the best mobile credit card processing service, visit our sister site Top Ten Reviews.]
4. How much does it (really) cost?
As a business owner, trying to figure out credit card processing fees is enough to leave your head spinning. To get the best deal on a mobile credit card processing service, compare costs by asking these key questions:
- What type of pricing structure is being offered?
- What are the different processing fees?
- Do you require a minimum monthly revenue?
- Is the credit card reader free or does it cost extra?
- Do you have any monthly, setup or maintenance fees?
- Are there any hidden fees?
Costs and fees should also be clearly outlined in your service contract. If something feels off or if anything seems unclear and a vendor won't give you a straight answer, run away — fast.
5. What about security and compliance?
Security is a priority for any business that accepts credit cards, both to protect customers and the company. A security breach won't just cost you financially in hefty fines and potential lawsuits; it can also cost you your reputation.
Although it is the processor's job to implement all security and compliance measures, it's your job to make sure they are actually current, comprehensive and are being enforced. At the minimum, find a vendor whose service-level agreement includes the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard, the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, the three-digit Card Verification Value (CVV2) code and end-to-end encryption (E2EE). You should also make sure that the processor does not store customers' credit card information on mobile devices or on any servers.
Originally published on Business News Daily.