Mobile Commerce 101: Are You Ready For Everywhere Transactions?

parking-meter.jpgMobile payments are not as big an opportunity as traditional online payments or retail stores.
However, every business should inventory their customers, sales transactions and business opportunities and determine if mobile payment acceptance is something they should or will need to offer customers.
There are many solutions to choose from, including many hardware options – from small appliances to swipe credit cards, connected to smartphones, to browser only solutions wherein you input payment information directly to a credit card. Other solutions include customers sending payments from their phones to other users, registered in the same mobile payment system.
Sage Payment Solutions offers a mobile payment solutions and helps us understand more about mobile payments in the interview below.
In this interview you’ll learn:

  • Why mobile payment is secure
  • How to know which payment solutions are best for your business
  • Costs you should expect
  • And what hardware/software options there are for mobile solutions

Please find the questions and answers from Sage Payment Solutions on the move towards mobile payment options.
There are many emerging payment solutions – Venmo, Paypal and many others have them. What should businesses look for to know what solution is best for them?

Emerging payment solutions are designed to fill a void that today’s mass market payment networks are not serving effectively. Generally, that’s cost to the merchant (or seller), desire for anonymity (of the buyer), protection from credit card fraud, and lack of access to credit cards. With all these opportunities, it would appear that emerging payment solutions should soon dominate the e-commerce landscape. However, three things have plagued these solutions from gaining ubiquitous adoption: chicken & egg; i.e.,
1) merchants won’t adopt it if the user base is small and users won’t sign up unless the merchant community accepts it.;
2) duration of the setup experience, and
3) cost is sometimes more expensive than credit cards. In other words, many emerging payment solutions have filled a few voids, but then they added a few others.
Two areas have emerged that are having an effect on adoption of emerging payment solutions: a) mobile devices; and b) data integration.
The mobile phone & smart phone market, and more importantly; the “App Store”, have a chance of solving the chicken & egg dilemma.
Given that mobile phones are still consumer driven e-commerce solutions it would appear that the emerging payment networks with a strong brand and distribution, such as PayPal, will have an advantage.
However, community focused solutions, like Venmo and Facebook, stand a good chance of establishing a loyal user base that could easily expand via the distributed nature of mobile phones. The second area that has emerged is payments data integration, which is more business focused. As mobile devices expand access to commerce, businesses are looking for these solutions to integrate into their back office accounting systems.
Here, business software providers like Intuit and Sage are well positioned to develop ready-channels for emerging payment solutions.
Is your solution (and, I assume, the other solutions) secure? Should businesses be worried or concerned about security when it comes to mobile payments?

Sage’s mobile payments solutions operate on Sage Exchange, our new payments platform. Sage Exchange is PA-DSS compliant and the application servers that deliver the applications are PCI certified. It is critical for companies considering the use of mobile equipment to insist on PA-DSS compliant software and PCI certified systems. The incidence of fraudulent activities have been on a steady increase over the past few years and the new compliance requirements and fines associated with incidence of fraud have kept pace. Businesses and consumers should place security at the top of the list of requirements and verify PA-DSS compliance before implementing a solution.
Why should businesses consider a mobile payment solution? Who is the ideal customer for this type of solution?

Businesses with a mobile work force that have a need to collect payments or close sales remotely are ideal candidates for implementation of a mobile strategy. Companies that operate in an environment where the customer comes to them would be less of a target. Additionally, mobile payment solutions, particularly if they support a wide variety of cell phones, can be an extremely effective way of delivering information, such as coupons, promotions and other loyalty services. Combined with a payment application, the ability to send & receive information remotely and then process payments on the fly can be extremely valuable to many businesses.
What are some expected costs?
Mobile solutions generally involve setup, per application, and transaction fees. Setup and per application fees are generally reasonable (in the $25 – $50 per user and $5 – $15 per month per user ranges). Transaction fees vary largely based on the monthly fee, but generally are reasonable when compared with the flexibility provided to mobile users.
What are some hardware options? Browser? Mobile phone app?
The popular smart phones available today generally provide modern desktop-quality browsers which can support payment applications through web interfaces. The Android (OS) based phones, Blackberry, Palm and Apple OS based devices can support relatively sophisticated installed applications (for a mobile system) as well. Numerous applications are now available through the various mobile application marketplaces and very dramatically in features and methods for delivering the solution.
Mobile payment vendors include: