With the recent launch of Apple Pay, it's safe to say that mobile payments are here to stay. As consumers change the way they pay, migrating from plastic cards to mobile phones and wearables, the payments industry is deploying a host of new technologies for retailers--and empowering consumers to pay how they want to pay.

Undeniably, 2015 is the year mobile payments will take hold. A Bankrate survey reported that 40% carry less than $20 in cash, while U.S. consumers carry more than 1.2 billion debit and credit cards. There are more mobile phone subscriptions in the U.S. today then there are people--327 million phones for 318 million Americans. And, Nielson reports that more than four out of every five smartphone and tablet owners already use these devices for shopping activities. Taken together, these statistics signal that Americans are poised to embrace mobile payments.

For startups and small business owners, mobile presents a unique opportunity to grow your business, establish lasting connections and find solutions for your toughest business challenges. Digital wallets and mobile payment platforms offer the ability to integrate marketing and loyalty programs with sales. Location based interactions provide tailor made customer experiences. And, layering multiple levels of protection and employing an array of security technologies, mobile payments are making electronic payments more secure.

Using mobile, you can take your business anywhere. With checkout in the palm of your hand, you choose where to do business and increase your options for product display. Your startup can also seamlessly build its customer database through mobile, allowing you to better understand customer preferences, more effectively communicate incentives and ultimately improve customer loyalty.

For consumers, the value of mobile payments extends beyond the convenience and simplicity of paying with their smartphone. It's also about the value they yield, whether through integrated loyalty or personalized rewards, as today's customer expects to be recognized as a loyal customer and rewarded for their repeat business.

Given the compelling benefits and rising consumer demand, investing in mobile payments acceptance is a smart decision for business. There are a multitude of new, affordable mobile payment technologies that are tailored to meet the needs of merchants of all sizes. The worldwide paradigm shift in payments is here. Now is the time to embrace mobile payments.

Published on: Jan 26, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.