How to Accept Mobile Payments: Top Ways & Methods

Accepting mobile payments gives your customers more flexibility and convenience in how they can purchase from you.

As most people today are never without a smartphone in their hand, it makes good business sense for any merchant - brick and mortar or online - to accept mobile payments. Mobile payments refer to the use of a mobile device to send or receive payment in exchange for a good or service. Your customers will appreciate the convenience afforded by being offered a large variety of payment options. Everyone has their favorite way to pay whether it’s cash, credit card or mobile e-payment - why not accept them all?  

It’s not just for the convenience of the customer. There are also significant benefits to you as the seller when you accept mobile payments. When you let a customer use their mobile device to make a payment, the transaction is more likely to happen immediately, putting the money in your pocket sooner. 

Accepting mobile payments is a win-win for both the customer and the seller.  As this method of payment becomes more and more popular, it will become increasingly important for all types of merchants to offer. One third of Americans already report wanting to use their smartphone to make payments all of the time - this article will tell you all you need to know to help make that happen. 

Definition of Mobile Payments

A mobile payment is a payment made using a mobile device, be it a smartphone, tablet, or even a laptop. The point of this type of payment method is to allow a consumer to complete transactions from start to finish using just their mobile device, with no need to take out their wallet, cash or credit card. 

Merchants can accept mobile payments for a variety of different transaction types including: point-of-sale purchases, online purchases and bill payments, any sending or receiving of funds via a web browser or mobile app, using mobile wallets to pay employees and more. 

Types of Mobile Payment Solutions

When considering how to accept mobile payments, it’s important to understand the different types of mobile payments that exist. The four main types of mobile payments are : browser-based, app-based, mobile credit card, and contactless. Following is a brief explanation of each type.  

Browser-Based Mobile Payments

Some online mobile payment services are browser or web-based, meaning that in order to complete a purchase the customer enters their credit card or other payment information into a form on a website on their mobile device. 

In some cases, the website will have its own built-in payment infrastructure (i.e. sites that use Shopify) and in others (i.e. Paypal) the customer may be directed to a new browser window in order to complete the transaction. In both cases, the entire purchasing process takes place within the browser. 

This is typical of many ecommerce sites where customers are meant to add their desired items to their cart and then go through a checkout process in which they enter payment details and the merchant’s payment services provider takes care of the rest.  

App-Based Mobile Payments

Some businesses may choose to create their own app, and then customers can pay via that app instead of through the internet browser. This type of mobile payment works the same way as browser-based payments, just the customer enters their information using the app’s interface. 

App-based mobile payments are more common among bigger businesses, in particular food and beverage companies like Starbucks and McDonald’s. It’s not limited to large businesses, however, and any company that wants to build an app can do so. There are plenty of smaller businesses who might find that the best way to accept mobile payments is via an app. 

Mobile Credit Card Payments

While nothing beats the convenience of shopping online, brick and mortar businesses must also know how to accept mobile payments. Customers can use their smartphone equipped with a digital wallet or other mobile e-payment solution to make a payment if the merchant has a mobile credit card reader designed for such purpose. 

More and more businesses are investing in mobile card readers in order to give their customers additional payment options. This is also a good option for businesses that offer services in a customer’s home, for example, so that they can get paid right away by bringing the mobile card reader with them. 

Contactless Payments

Contactless payments are quickly becoming the most often-used type of mobile payment, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic when the less anyone needs to physically touch someone else’s credit card, the better. 

Similar to mobile credit card payments, the merchant is required to have an NFC reader in order to be able to accept mobile payments using this method. What is an NFC reader? It’s a simple device that a customer with a mobile wallet app simply needs to hold their phone close to (without touching it) in order for the transaction to go through. With contactless payments, there is no need for a physical card or any of the usual authentication like entering a PIN or signing a receipt. 

What is Mobile Payment Technology

Specific technology is required to enable vendors to accept mobile payments. While there are a few different types of technology used, including NFC and QR codes. 

NFC

NFC (near field communication) technology transmits payment information stored on a customer’s NFC-enabled mobile device or credit card to an NFC reader when the two devices are within very close proximity of each other. The payment information is tokenized and turned into a random string of numbers in order to keep it secure during the transmission process.  

QR Codes

Using QR code technology, a customer simply scans the code that the seller displays and then enters in their payment information. This is another contactless mobile payment method that is a good alternative when the vendor does not have an NFC or other mobile card reader. 

How To Accept Mobile Payments

Once a merchant decides to accept mobile payments, the next question they may ask is what are the ways and methods to accept online payments. The process is very simple, whether you have a brick and mortar location or an online shop, and requires you to have the correct hardware and software for mobile credit card processing. 

If you have a physical store, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Choose and purchase a card reader. It’s better to buy one that can accept credit cards as well as contactless payments to avoid having to purchase additional equipment.
  2. Make sure your payment services provider can accept mobile payments and then use their help if necessary to connect to the system.
  3. Sync up your business bank account so that you’ll be able to receive the funds. 

If you have an online store, the process is the same with the exception of the need for the card reader. Some platforms may offer built-in payment functionality, but most likely you will need an online payment service provider that will enable you to accept payments online and will be able to set you up to accept mobile payments as well. For additional reading on the topic, here you can find 7 steps on how to accept payments on your website.

Once you’ve got your system up and running, make sure you let your customers know that you are open for business and ready to accept mobile payments. You can add it as a prominent piece of information on your website, advertise in social media posts and send emails to your mailing list to let your audience know that they have additional payment options. 

If you want to take it a step further, you can even offer incentives such as special discounts to encourage people to use mobile payment options instead of more traditional purchase methods. 

What Mobile Payment Apps are Available?

There is no shortage of mobile payment apps for consumers to use. Merchants can choose which types they would like to accept. This decision should be based both on how popular the method is - you want to be sure you offer all of the payment methods that your customers like to use - as well as after doing a cost analysis and making sure that you won’t lose money on transactions. Each payment app may have a different fee structure. 


It’s also important to consider whether your customers are primarily iOS or Android users as the best way to accept mobile payments will be to offer the solutions that your customers are most likely to use. 


Following is a list of some of the more popular mobile payment apps and whether they are compatible with iOS, Android or both:


Mobile Payment APP iOS Compatible Android Compatible
PayPal
Venmo
Google Pay 🆇
Apple Pay 🆇
Samsung Pay 🆇
Flint Mobile
PaySimple

Business Benefits of Accepting Mobile Payments

Accepting mobile payments affords a business numerous benefits, including:

  • Get paid faster - payments are processed on-site and immediately so that a merchant gets paid as soon as the good or service is provided. Unlike a check that can get lost in the mail or bounce, the funds are transferred directly to the seller. 
  • Save time - mobile payments eliminate the need for manual invoicing and mailing paper bills and receipts. There will also be no more need to follow up with customers to collect payment. All of this free time can be dedicated to growing the business more. 
  • Collect customer data - you can integrate a mobile payment service with your customer loyalty program in order to capture valuable data about your customers that you can use for targeted marketing to encourage those customers to keep coming back for more. 
  • Increase customer satisfaction - happy customers are those who experience a smooth and easy checkout process and are able to pay with the method of their choice. 
  • Offer secure transactions - contactless payments make customers feel more secure because their credit card never leaves their hand or their sight. The advances in mobile payment technology means these types of transactions are more secure and offer better protection against fraudulent activities than more traditional payment methods. 
  • Take advantage of flexible fees - while you will have to pay some sort of fee to get the mobile payments benefits, most providers offer either a flat fee per transaction or a monthly fee for those who have a larger volume of transactions per month. Choose the fee structure that works best for your business. 
  • Monitor your sales better - if you offer both in-store and online experiences for your customers, a mobile POS system means you can track both types of sales in one place to make it easier for you to see the overall picture of your sales numbers. 
  • Create customized experiences - you can create customized checkout processes for each customer based on the information they provide through their mobile payments. 
  • Don’t deal with cash - this one is only relevant for brick and mortar stores, but the more cashless payment options you offer, the faster you can move to a fully cash-free environment and never have to count cash and make trips to the bank to deposit it. 
  • Improve your bookkeeping - connect your mobile payment system directly to your accounting system, eliminating the need for manual data entry and the potential for human error. Your books will be updated automatically with any revenue earned from mobile payments. 
  • Increase your revenue - the more payment options you offer, the wider the potential customer base available to you. 

What are the Risks of Mobile Payments?

The two biggest risks to a business when it comes to accepting mobile payments are the costs and security.

Any decision that you make as a business owner concerning costs comes with the risk of the costs outweighing the benefit that you may gain. Accepting mobile payments comes at a cost that includes a setup fee plus one or more of the following: a percentage of the transaction amount, a flat fee per transaction or a monthly fee. While the decision should not be made without doing a cost-benefit analysis, it is impossible to predict for sure that the sales brought in with mobile payments will be greater than the costs. Given the growing popularity of mobile payments, it’s probably a fairly safe bet, but remains a slight risk nonetheless. 

The security risk of mobile payments is probably more of a perceived risk than an actual risk given the protections built in with the technology. But, there is still the risk that consumers will be nervous to use mobile payments because they are worried about security which can impact a business’ bottom line. And, of course, there is also the remote possibility that a merchant can become a victim of fraud while accepting mobile payments. 

Which Payment App is Most Secure?

All of the well-known mobile payment apps have similar security features such as passcode locks, two-factor authentication and other methods of ensuring that the person making a purchase using the app is the actual authorized user. 

The larger apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay with big companies behind them may offer tighter security than some of the newer or smaller players, but you’re likely to be safe from any major threats with any of the big names like PayPal, Venmo and more. 

Accepting Mobile Payments with Pay.com 

Among the many options offered by Pay.com is the ability for online merchants to accept mobile payments. It’s very easy to integrate any of the payment methods of your choice including Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and other mobile payment apps. You can also, of course, create QR codes or other direct links to your checkout page powered by Pay.com so that your customers, wherever they are, can have direct access to pay you using a mobile device. 


FAQs

How do I accept payment over the phone?

You can accept payment over the phone by asking the caller for their credit card or other payment details and manually entering it yourself into your online or mobile payment system.

How do I enable mobile payment?

Depending on your payment service provider, you should be able to select mobile payment options as one (or more) of the payment options that you want to offer.

Which app is best for accepting payments?

There is not necessarily a best app for accepting payments. The best way to accept mobile payments for each business is a decision based on the customer base and what apps they are most likely to use. The more options you can offer, the better.

Is it legal to take payments over the phone?

You should check the local regulations in your area, but in most places it is legal to take payments over the phone provided that you have a secure payment processor into which you can input the payment information. The payment is then protected at the same level as it would be if the customer themselves had entered the information.

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