Mobility

6 essential mobile payments apps small businesses need to know

Apps exist for almost everything, so it's no surprise that companies and customers are using mobile devices for payments. Here are six mobile payment apps to consider for your small business.

Juniper Research estimates that in-store mobile payments will reach $2 trillion by 2020, which represents 15% of the total point-of-sale transactions. Mobile payments are a crucial part of the digital economy and a good way to market your small business, especially to younger consumers who do a significant number of their transactions on mobile devices.

Mobile apps are making payments easier, safer, and more seamless for consumers. The following list of mobile payment apps are some of the services to consider offering as options to customers of your small business.

SEE: Digital transformation in retail: How consumers are using tech to make shopping easier and more enjoyable (Tech Pro Research)

PayPal

PayPal—it's not just for eBay anymore. This behemoth of a company allows users to set up a personal or business account. With roughly 244 million active accounts (PDF) and a Total Payment Volume (TPV) of $451 billion in 2017 ($132 billion in Q1 of 2018), this payment method is too popular to ignore. PayPal has recently acquired other mobile payment companies including iZettle, Hyperwallet, Simility, and Jetlore (PayPal), allowing it to offer mobile payment options to smaller businesses that may not have the budget to invest in other mobile payment technologies.

PayPal is appealing to customers and small businesses alike because it allows for secure payments with fraud detection and speedier checkouts.

SEE: How the 'PayPal Mafia' redefined success in Silicon Valley (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)

Venmo

Owned by PayPal, Venmo is a money-sharing app that allows customers to transfer money directly to their peers. Venmo mobile payments are accepted at over 2 million US merchants/retailers (those that also accept PayPal), making it another very viable option to consider offering for your business. According to TechRepublic sister site ZDNet, in Q1 of 2018 the app processed over $12 billion of TPV.

Venmo is launching a new initiative: A physical debit card linked to the customer's Venmo account that can be used to make purchases in retail locations and to withdraw cash from ATMs. This innovation offers the convenience and support of the app but with real-life spending capabilities. Because the Venmo debit card runs on Mastercard's network, it can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

Venmo is a good choice for businesses to tap into the market with minimal to no upgrades to their technology.

SEE: Venmo has no good reason to make user transactions public by default (ZDNet)

Square

Square is a good option for any business, particularly small or mobile businesses. Using a tiny square device that can be plugged into a compatible tablet or smartphone (it works with iOS and Android devices), or computer, Square allows US merchants to collect payments quickly and easily for a 2.75% fee per swipe.

Payments can be securely obtained anywhere—the possibilities are limited only by the business owner's imagination. Square even offers an Offline Mode for when Wi-Fi is unavailable (the regular swipe fee applies). Square offers a free Point-of-Sale system, as well as one free reader per business, with each additional reader only costing $10. There are no monthly fees, and deposits are available within one to two business days.

Square is a solid option and has an abundance of uses for any business.

SEE: Square intros Installments feature that lets SMBs offer payment plans (ZDNet)

Google Pay

Google Pay, which merges Google Wallet and Android Pay, allows customers to pay on websites, mobile apps, and via contactless payment terminals in stores using payment information that is already saved on the user's Google accounts. And it's all done from their tablet, smartphone (Android or iOS), or smartwatch, offering the ultimate in convenience.

Google Pay is a free service for businesses and consumers. The service is available to customers worldwide, has enhanced security, and can be set up for your business in less than a week. The only catch is that businesses must use a participating Google Pay processor.

Google Pay offers convenience and secure transactions, and is able to be used on the customer's smartphone or tablet.

Apple Pay

Much like Google Pay, Apple Pay allows users to make a payment at a merchant with a touch of their phone. Customers simply set up their account using their supported debit or credit card, sign into their account with their Apple ID, and use their iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or compatible Mac to complete the transaction (see the list of supported devices).

Businesses that offer Apple Pay must be equipped with a contactless payment-capable point-of-sale terminal where customers can tap their device and go without ever having to pull out their wallet. Apple does not charge additional fees for the service, but your business will need an NFC-capable terminal updated with the correct software to accept Apple Pay.

Apple Pay is a popular and convenient payment method. One drawback is that it's only available to customers with compatible Apple devices and not Android users.

SEE: The long-awaited death of cash may finally be coming (CNET)

Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay is a worthwhile option for your small business. Unique technology allows it to be used at contactless payment terminals as well as older magnetic stripe terminals—it can even be used with Square. Using NFC and magnetic secure transmission (MST), a signal is emitted from the customer's Samsung phone or smartwatch, transferring their stored card information directly to the terminal. This technology can be implemented using your business's existing hardware.

Samsung Pay is available in 24 countries and can be used anywhere Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express are accepted (see the list of participating banks), even if the customer doesn't have a Wi-Fi or a cellular data signal.

While this particular mobile payment offers ease of use and versatility, much like Apple Pay, it is limited by the type of smartphone or smartwatch the customer uses (see the compatible devices).

Also see

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    Image: iStockphoto/Panya_sealim

        About Kristen Lotze

        Kristen Lotze is an Associate Writer for TechRepublic. She is a graduate of the University of Louisville, and previously worked as an intern in the Marketing and Communications department at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

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