Something that an unfortunate number of business owners overlook until it’s far too late is that not all payment processing accounts are created equally – or at least, they’re not anymore. In the “good old days,” functionality was essentially uniform across the board and all you really had to do was try to find the provider with the lowest fees. Now, your payment processing terminal has essentially become THE most important tool in your business’ arsenal. Features like mobile payments, portable terminals and more, when used effectively, can all give you the type of competitive advantage and improved customer experience you can no longer afford to ignore.
Only by taking a look inside and by outlining your own specific goals will you be able to choose the payment processing account (and most importantly, the terminal) that is right for you. This requires you to keep a few important things in mind.
Mobile Payments vs. Portable Terminals
Though the terms “mobile” and “portable” are often used interchangeably, they are NOT the same thing and should never be treated as such – particularly when it comes to your payment processing terminal.
- Mobile– A terminal capable of accepting mobile payments is one that lets customers use their smartphones or other mobile devices to make digital payments from a cyber wallet. Adding this functionality would allow you to start accepting Apple Pay payments, for example, which embraces a modern generation of shoppers who prefer to carry the lightest possible wallet – if they want to carry a wallet at all.
- Portable– Portable terminals, on the other hand, are exactly that – ones that you can move around. This can be great if your business does a certain amount of work off-site and still requires payment processing capabilities. It can also be a great way to relieve long lines in a physical retail location, as you can have employees walk around and interact with customers AND accept payments without eventually redirecting those customers to a cashier.
Other New Payment Types
Though you’ve probably been reading a lot about Apple Pay in the press over the last year or so, it’s important to understand that this is NOT the only new payment type to hit the market recently. Another quality you’ll want to carefully consider about your payment processing terminal is how it positions you to help these new tech-savvy customers. In addition to Apple Pay, for example, you have near-field communication (NFC) to address. This is similar in concept to Apple Pay in that customers are probably using a device like a smartphone to make payments, but it actually sends encrypted financial information in the form of a short distance NFC wave from the device to the terminal. Some businesses are even using NFC as an ability to let customers pay for goods and services by just tapping their card on the terminal instead of swiping it at all.
Bold New Frontier, Bold New Fees
While it’s true that there are more than just fees to concern yourself with when selecting a payment processing provider, fees are still pretty important – particularly all of the new ones that are being added to address the forward-thinking features that these providers often offer.
- One of the most important fees you’ll want to watch is your “Monthly Minimum Fee,” for example, which is a total minimum amount that your processing company MUST collect in any 30 day period. If they don’t collect that money through normal fees, they’re going to charge you the difference – so it’s important to know where you stand in this regard.
- Other fees you’ll want to keep a watchful eye out for that some processors may charge include a monthly gateway access fee (which is intended to cover the costs of providing you with a service at all) and any early termination fees if you first sign a service contract and then later decide to end that contract before the original expiration date contained within.
As always, it is recommended that you shop around until you find a provider that has the features you need AND the fees you’re willing to pay.
The simple fact of the matter is that there is no “one size fits all” solution to payment processing. Whereas one business may want to embrace the idea of portable terminals with open arms, others may be making a huge mistake by moving in that direction. It all comes down to your specific business and exactly what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. Only by getting a deeper understanding of what these features DO will you be able to properly single out the ones your business NEEDS moving forward.
Merchant’s Resource Group is dedicated to helping you with your business solutions. Contact us to get a free business consultation.