Today’s customer heads out the door with very little: their cell phone, car keys, and credit card. While it makes for an easy shopping experiences, it eliminates the possibility of taking advantage of ‘cash only’ sales. For the small hot dog vendor who doesn’t accept credit cards, the minimalist customer represents a lost sale.
Accepting credit cards as a method of payment used to involve opening a merchant account, leasing or purchasing payment processing equipment, and the use of a phone or cable line. There were long-term contracts and expensive fees that were cost-prohibitive to the small vendor.
Enter the smart phone.
Payment Processing via Smartphone
The advent of the smart phone changed more than the communication industry. Processes handled by new smartphones have completely revolutionized the payment industry, opening the door for small businesses to process transactions quickly and easily.
The benefits of alternative credit card processing:
- Reader plugs into headphone jack of smartphone or tablet
- No contracts, no expensive equipment to buy
- Readers are very inexpensive (typically under $10) or free
- No monthly fees
- Money is deposited into merchant’s account quickly (transactions generally post each night)
- Readers can be used both in traditional brick and mortar settings or non-traditional settings – wherever there is a cell or wireless signal
Which Card Reader is Right for You?
Fortunately, small hotdog vendors have quite a few options when it comes to selecting a mobile-based payment processing solution.
This triangular reader is offered by online payment processor PayPal. Merchants must have a PayPal account, which is free to set up, and monies are deposited into that account. Merchants have the option of transferring the money to their bank or a PayPal MasterCard for easy access.
Merchants pay a small transaction fee (less than 3%) and can accept credit cards by swiping or by keying in the number. (Key in transactions incurs a slightly higher fee.) Readers are free through PayPal.
A small white square, the Square reader works with iPhones, iPads and Android phones. Transactions are deposited nightly into the business’ checking account. Merchants pay a small fee per transaction, although a flat-rate is available for high-volume businesses. Square also accepts mobile payments, so customers simply need to have their phone to complete the transaction.
Intuit’s QuickBooks payment processor, GoPayment, allows merchants to accept credit cards, email invoices and automatically posts transactions to QuickBooks. Low per-transaction fees, customizable receipts and easy set up make this an attractive option for small business owners.
Be Careful of Fraud
While accepting credit cards introduces new revenue sources, it also opens the door to fraudsters.
Hot dog vendors need to worry about two types of fraud: criminal fraud and friendly fraud.
Criminal fraud happens when someone makes an unauthorized transaction. A criminal might make a counterfeit card with someone else’s account information. Or, someone might find or steal a genuine card. Either way, hot dog vendors need to be vigilant about detecting and responding to suspicious behavior.
Another type of fraud is called friendly fraud. A cardholder might authorize a legitimate purchase, but then later dispute the transaction with the bank. As fraud expert Monica Cardone points out, this type of fraud can really impact a vendor’s bottom line.
We aren’t saying credit cards are dangerous, we are simply saying merchants need to be just as attentive to the risks as they are to the rewards.
The Future Looks Bright
With today’s technology, you don’t have to miss out on a sale because your hot-dog-loving customer doesn’t have cash. There are multiple options for wireless card readers; find the one that works best for your needs and start taking credit cards today.
Increase your revenue, meet your customer’s needs and watch your profits go up. Put up a ‘We Accept Credit Cards!’ sign and you’ll be hearing, “Sauerkraut and extra mustard? Yes, please!”
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