This article was originally written for CO-; by Jamie Johnson, Contributor
Regardless of your industry or the customers you serve, the ability to accept credit card payments is likely a must-have for your business.
However, the adoption of the mobile point-of-sale devices (mPOS) -- i.e., a wireless device, smartphone or tablet that accepts payments in a portable fashion -- is now on the rise. In fact, studies are predicting that mPOS devices will account for nearly 25% of all point-of-sale (POS) transactions by 2023.
If you're looking to equip your small business to accept mobile payments, here are four things to consider.
Decide whether you want to use a merchant account or payment aggregator
In general, there are two ways you can accept credit card payments: by setting up a merchant account or using a payment aggregator. A merchant account is an account you'll set up through a bank so you can accept online payments.
In contrast, a payment aggregator is a third-party processor that will process payments for you. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options.
Merchant accounts are more cost-effective in the long run and tend to be more stable. If you go this route, you don't have to worry about unexpected account holds. However, a merchant account is also more time-consuming to set up.
A payment aggregator is easy to set up so you can start accepting payments right away. However, the fees tend to be more costly and the company can put a hold on your account if they suspect any fraudulent activity.
Figure out what kind of hardware you'll need
Purchasing hardware is one of the most expensive aspects of accepting mobile payments.
First, you'll need to consider what kind of accessories you'll need. For instance, if you plan to accept mobile payments in a store, then you should probably consider investing in a cash drawer and receipt printer. Depending on your industry, you may be able to get away with sending digital receipts to customers.
You'll also need to think about which accessories are compatible with your mPOS wireless device, as well as how sophisticated you want your card reader to be. It is possible to get away with just using a free credit card swiper, but it might be worth your while to invest in something with higher quality. For instance, more sophisticated readers offer EMV chip technology, which will provide more security for your customers.
Think carefully before selecting an internet provider
If you're going to process mobile payments, then reliable internet is a necessity. This is especially true if you're going to accept payments from a variety of different locations.
For instance, let's say you need to accept payments at a trade show or event. You may have a hard time getting a good connection at a large event with thousands of attendees.
Brick-and-mortar businesses also need to have a good internet connection at all times, so it's important to choose a reliable internet provider and to have a mobile hotspot that will allow you to connect to the internet at all times.
Consider any extra features you'll need
Depending on what state you live in, you'll probably be responsible for paying some type of sales tax on each transaction. So you'll need to have a way to add this into your pricing. Fortunately, most mobile card readers offer a feature that automatically calculates the sales tax for you.
You should also think about whether you want to accept tips or need additional features like a customer database, accounting software or inventory management. Depending on the business you run, these features could make running your business a much smoother process.
You want to make sure that any solution you choose is secure, improves the customer experience and keeps your overall costs low. If you can find those three things, your business will be in good shape going forward.