Will Nick Cards Kill Mobile Processing?

mobile emv card reader

Since Square launched in 2009, the charge card industry has, in lots of ways, been switched on its mind. Charge card acceptance is much more prevalent and fewer costly than ever before. But with the nationwide change to nick cards arriving October 2015, we may see another major shift in the manner we conceive of in-person payments, as well as in the alternative direction.

Remember whenever you once had to ask in the counter should you could pay having a charge card? Well, lately I opened up in a school fundraising event carwash and considered to myself, &#8220They most likely take charge cards.&#8221 Plus they did. With Square. This is the way much low-cost, phone-based processing has altered the way you purchase things, and just what we predict from sellers. Today, I believe any grade school child having a lemonade stand could be foolish not to take a look at (with parental supervision) an application like Flint. 10 years ago I most likely might have known as law enforcement when the same child requested me in my charge card. However with an upswing of nick cards, are we able to expect exactly the same ubiquity?

The news about how mobile processing required root

Let&#8217s be obvious: most from the democratization of payments introduced about by third-party payment services like PayPal, Stripe, and Square is not going anywhere soon. These types of services introduced charge card acceptance towards the masses by not charging any monthly charges, supplying nearly instant approval, and requiring no setup costs. Which means that literally anybody are able to afford to register to simply accept card payments with hardly any effort and simply no expense aside from charges according to usage. Compare that to old-fashioned traditional credit card merchant account setup that may take days, cost 100’s of dollars in advance, after which include monthly charges of $40 or even more even when no transactions are processed, alongside hefty early termination charges. (Note that lots of the best merchant account providers can hold low-volume users without charging a leg along with a leg.)

But exactly how are the likes of Square in a position to ship out free charge card readers to anybody who requests one? Two reasons: low-cost hardware and the requirement for an enormous users list.

Square along with other mobile processors create a very, very little bit of profit on every account. To create a sustainable quantity of profit, the organization should have a massive quantity of accounts. By looking into making the setup process as frictionless as you possibly can, Square has the capacity to cast the largest internet possible. And because Square has in the past were able to produce this kind of affordable charge card readers, there isn&#8217t much financial risk involved with setting everybody up. The truth that Square&#8217s signup process requires essentially no underwriting or evaluation doesn&#8217t hurt either, a minimum of when it comes to keeping operating costs lower. Although, as we view, this doesn&#8217t always make the best consumer experience.

The price of mobile nick card readers

As I don&#8217t have exact figures, I will tell you with absolute certainty that manufacture of nick card readers is a lot more costly than magnetic stripe card readers, especially thinking about that nick card readers, typically, will still need support mag stripe cards. The development price is elevated a lot, actually, that Square charges about $30 for this&#8217s current nick card readers &#8211 a high rise in the formerly free readers it’ll replace. The organization&#8217s new NFC-capable nick card readers will retail for $50, but certain retailers may be eligible for a a totally free readers (based on processing volume and business type), while some who pre-order may be eligible for a a $50 statement credit.

The reality is, many micro retailers won’t be able to get a totally free EMV nick card readers from Square, or elsewhere, a minimum of not without having to pay a regular monthly fee. It might just be too dangerous and costly of these companies to ship out nick card readers to retailers who might not even process just one transaction.

But retailers who don&#8217t wish to covering out $30 to $60 for any readers aren’t at a complete loss. Of course, users can key-in card information with no readers whatsoever. The down-side for this is the fact that keyed-in transactions tend to be more vulnerable to holds, plus they generally are more expensive to process. I additionally expect that we’ll see more camera checking functionality implemented, like what Flint uses, that will a minimum of result in the keying-in process faster and simpler.

How are mobile processors coping with the requirement for nick card readers?

Here&#8217s what we should know to date regarding mobile processors&#8217 plans for EMV nick cards.

PayPal Here:

PayPal states that it is new readers is originating in &#8220Fall of 2015.&#8221 Since Fall begins on September 23rd this season, and also the official EMV switch date is October first, I suppose don’t be surprised it sometime that week? The organization lately released pictures of the forthcoming nick card readers, but provided no pre-order date.

Here&#8217s what we should can say for certain about PayPal&#8217s US-based nick card readers:

  • It will likely be another Bluetooth connected device, not really a headphone jack readers
  • It’ll have a complete PIN pad
  • It will likely be NFC-capable, meaning it may accept Apple Pay and other alike mobile wallets
  • It will likewise support magnetic stripe cards
  • It won’t be free

The present United kingdom version form of PayPal&#8217s nick card readers costs about $50, however the new US version will probably be more costly because of the NFC readers embedded.

Paypal-emv-chip-card-reader

Spark Pay:

Most mobile processors are keeping things near to the vest regarding the nick card switch. Spark Pay&#8217s official response is:

Yes, Spark Pay will support EMV. The deadline for supporting this latest standard is October 2015. Once we catch up with up to now, we’ll provide additional information around our support and just what actions, or no, you will have to undertake.

In addition to that, there’s been no public comment from Spark Pay about this subject.

Flint:

Flint Mobile has remained quiet regarding its plans for that approaching EMV shift. Because Flint uses the devices camera to scan charge cards rather of the card readers, the transactions are technically processed as card-not-present. The brand new EMV rules won’t impact card-not-present transactions, therefore it appears prone to me the nick card liability shift won’t pressure Flint to create any changes. However the ultimate decision rests at the disposal of Flint&#8217s backend processor. I&#8217d anticipate seeing some type of announcement later this summer time. If Flint could use its application as-is, when i anticipate, the organization is going to be better off because it won’t suffer from the cost and friction of issuing hardware.

flint-card-scan

PayAnywhere:

At the begining of This summer, PayAnywhere published inside a Facebook comment proclaiming that &#8220we are presently evaluating supplying a Mobile EMV capable device, and much more information is going to be available soon.&#8221 Regarding the storefront tablet, the organization had this to state: &#8220We started shipping EMV capable Storefront units recently [June 2015]. Should you purchased just before then, your unit is probably not EMV capable.&#8221

Oddly, however, PayAnywhere isn’t positively advertising its EMV hardware or releasing images and specifications on its website. So right now I do not know what the organization&#8217s nick card system may be like or what features it’ll offer.

QuickBooks Payments (Intuit GoPayment):

Quickbooks lately started accepting pre-orders because of its mobile EMV card readers. It&#8217s a sound jack readers that actually works with magnetic stripe and nick cards, but doesn’t support NFC payments for example Apple Pay. The cost tag is $30, on componen concentrating on the same non-NFC mobile readers. The readers is certainly not to reside in about when it comes to either design or features, however it&#8217s nice to determine the organization is on the top from the EMV transition.

Quickbooks-intuit-gopayment-emv-chip-card-reader

Square Register:

Finally, we’ve Square. This is actually the apparent frontrunner within the EMV race, with among the first mobile nick card readers available on the market (we unboxed and evaluate it), as well as an NFC-capable readers presently readily available for pre-order. The conventional audio jack nick card readers can process EMV cards and magnetic stripes, as the Bluetooth NFC readers cannot run magnetic stripe transactions (Square ships individuals readers having a free audio jack mag stripe readers). In addition, Square has released a nick card readers particularly for that Square Stand. That&#8217s a fairly solid number of products, especially thinking about your competition.

Square EMV reader

It&#8217s lower towards the wire for mobile nick card readers, however they&#8217re not going anywhere soon

I honestly expected a lot more from mobile processors with this point. As recently This summer, this really is all the information we’ve. I&#8217m surprised that each processor hasn&#8217t issued official press announcements with information regarding forthcoming hardware at the minimum. As you can tell, only 1 / 2 of the businesses we checked out here did this, and just one of these includes a nick card readers presently available to buy. With simply about two several weeks left prior to the liability shift, I&#8217m just a little disappointed.

But here&#8217s what’s promising. Nick cards are certainly not likely to kill mobile processing. They might, however, allow it to be more costly &#8211 designed for micro retailers who won&#8217t wish to covering out $30 or even more for that new hardware. These users will either choose to swipe them and risk fraud, to key-within the card data and spend the money for surcharge for doing this, or otherwise to simply accept card payments whatsoever. This might make camera scan mobile processing apps like Flint Mobile more appealing, because no hardware is required to entitled to the standard rates. But time will inform how scalping strategies adapt for nick cards. I’d reckon that a minimum of a couple of mobile processors will fold along the way.

In the meantime, I&#8217m excited to get hold of newer and more effective hardware for testing! Follow us on social networking for additional hardware reviews and also the latest news regarding nick cards and mobile processors.

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Shopkeep Versus Square

shopkeep-vs-square

In only yesteryear many years, mobile payment processing is becoming componen for that course for various kinds of small companies, from food trucks to hairstylists. Mobile point-of-sales systems combine a smartphone/tablet having a charge card readers so that you can easily process payments, regardless of whether you&#8217re on the run or perhaps in your brick-and-mortar store. Presently, Square and ShopKeep are a couple of of the largest mobile POS providers, even though there is a lot in keeping, they likewise have some important variations.

In the following paragraphs, I’ll explore the primary features and downsides of every service that will help you pick which, if either, of those systems works perfect for your online business. Since Square is mainly a mobile payment processor and ShopKeep is much more-or-less an entire point-of-purchase system, your decision ultimately relies upon the dimensions and scope of the business. If you’re tight on time and trust our judgment at Merchant Maverick, then It is best to check out our best reason for purchase providers and/or mobile payments providers. They all offer very fair and competitive rates and don’t charge any bogus charges. If you like to discover these items yourself, then continue reading!

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:

Champion: Tie

Square and ShopKeep are generally pay-as-you-go, no-contract software services. There’s no early termination fee with either service, making both solutions flexible choices for small companies just beginning out.

Features:

Champion: ShopKeep

Square includes a very robust set of features for any mobile POS — actually, it’s probably the most advanced associated with a free mobile payment system available. But ShopKeep (that we should most likely note, isn’t free) is really a full-featured POS system which includes sophisticated register tools in addition to “back office” tools for operating a business, for example worker management and advanced inventory management. As it pertains lower into it, ShopKeep offers quite a bit more options featuring than Square. Let’s check out the primary features provided by each.

Square’s primary features:

  • Mobile terminal (iPad, Android device, etc.) combined with a totally free card readers
  • Mobile application, which could take payments with no readers (however for a greater fee)
  • Integrated (in-house) payment processing
  • Selection of emailed or printed receipts
  • Tipping, open ticket, and split-tender options
  • Fundamental inventory management
  • Online menu ordering
  • Customer comments management
  • eCommerce features to sell online

Find out more about Square’s features within our Square review.

ShopKeep’s primary features:

  • Mobile terminal/register (iPad/iOS only)
  • Free ShopKeep Pocket™ iOS application
  • Starter package includes iPad stand, cash drawer, receipt printer, and card swipe
  • Advanced register features — capability to add modifiers, split tenders, apply quick discounts (item and order level), process returns and refunds, and much more
  • Integrates with the selection of payment processor
  • Staff management features, including worker time-tracking
  • Advanced reporting options
  • Complete inventory management, including capability to inventory products as raw goods, after which create assemblies according to these details
  • Customized email receipts
  • Crm (CRM) tools — capture and store customer information to transmit custom offers and coupons (pairs with MailChimp for integrated e-mail marketing)

Learn more about ShopKeep’s features within our ShopKeep review.

Observe that both Square and ShopKeep offer EMV nick card readers, out of the box needed legally by October 2015. Both readers accept Apple Pay and both accept swiped cards too. ShopKeep’s EMV readers costs $249 and qualified Square users can presently reserve one EMV readers totally free (standard cost is $49).

One sort of feature Square has that ShopKeep lacks is eCommerce, that is important if you wish to setup a built-in online storefront.

Charges and Rates:

Champion: Tie

It’s not necessarily easy to say which service has better prices as this depends upon profits volume and, within the situation of ShopKeep, the selection of charge card processor. Square is probably the greater affordable mobile payment system for small-time, low-volume companies. However, because ShopKeep includes a more flexible payments structure, it is commonly a much better value for greater-volume retailers — i.e., individuals processing about $10,000/month or even more.

So, here’s the offer: Square is free of charge (no fee every month), besides the cost to really process payments, and also the cost to purchase peripheral equipment, for example iPad stands and extra card readers. You could have as numerous registers/points of purchase as you desire.

Square’s users are limited to Square’s in-house charge card processor, whose rates are listed below:

  • Swiped and dipped nick card transactions: 2.75%
  • Online/invoice transactions: 2.75%
  • Keyed-in transactions: 3.5% + $.15

ShopKeep has a simple prices structure of $49/month, per register (plus the price of hardware). Like Square, ShopKeep also provides its very own integrated payment processor, ShopKeep Payments. Minute rates are customized for every business. So, potentially you can get a much better rate than you are able to with Square. More to the point, you may also make use of an outdoors payment processor with ShopKeep, locating a more competitive rate than Square’s 2.75% of every transaction. (Compare a few of the top a merchant account providers here.)

Prices for peripheral hardware (Bluetooth printers, iPad stands, scanners, etc.) is fairly comparable for Square and ShopKeep, and to keep your hardware for either POS from third-party sellers.

Software and hardware Needs:

Champion: Square

All that you should take payments on Square or ShopKeep is really a supported smartphone or tablet and Wireless/data connection. However with Square you’ve got a a bit more versatility when it comes to hardware — you should use an Android phone to process payments, for instance, and you may have as numerous registers/points of purchase as you would like without getting to pay for more for that service.

Square works together with all newer android and ios devices, though it doesn’t formally guarantee compatibility with Android tablets. To gain access to the receipt printer, cash drawer, or bar code scanner, you’ve got to be linked to an iPad all peripheral hardware setups should be combined with an iPad.

ShopKeep works solely with iOS devices — latest-gen. iPhones, iPads, and iPad minis. You are able to browse different hardware setups within the ShopKeep Store. As pointed out, with ShopKeep, your rate per month is dependent upon the number of registers you’ve.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: Tie

Square integrates with increased apps and outdoors software services than ShopKeep, and it also provides an API for developers. So for the reason that sense, Square is much more customizable than ShopKeep. However, unlike Square, ShopKeep integrates with many outdoors payment processors, which for many shopkeepers, may well be a much more important than integrations with third-party accounting or invoicing apps. Also, since ShopKeep provides more features out-of-the-box, you might require less outdoors tools (for example inventory software) anyway.

Here are a few of Square’s integrations:

  • QuickBooks
  • Stitch Labs
  • Xero
  • IFTT
  • TaxJar
  • SumAll
  • Fresh KDS
  • Shopseen
  • ShipStation
  • Intrakr Inventory
  • Zoho Books
  • MyERP

Find out more about Square’s integrations.

The primary ShopKeep add-ons/integrations are MailChimp, QuickBooks, and AppCard. ShopKeep doesn’t provide a public API, though this really is supposedly coming later in 2015. Observe that while ShopKeep integrates with plenty of charge card processors additionally to the in-house processor, you can’t use PayPal or LevelUp with ShopKeep.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: ShopKeep

Customer care is definitely an area where both of these services differ significantly.

Square’s customer care continues to be notoriously harmful to a lot of the service’s history, although once we discuss within our Square review, everything has been gradually improving in the last couple years. Both phone and email support are actually available during business hrs, though responses aren’t particularly personalized or prompt, with email responses sometimes taking on to 3 the future through. And with regards to account holds along with other issues natural with third-party payment processors (more about that in a moment), prompt, account-specific support could be really important.

ShopKeep, by comparison, has perfectly-received customer care, available 24/7 by telephone or email or via live chat during business hrs. ShopKeep boasts about its customer care among the “features” incorporated within the monthly charge. So, they take support pretty seriously, also it shows.

Reviews:

Champion: ShopKeep

There are lots of negative Square reviews floating online, with nearly all unhappy customers complaining about account stability issues and/or poor customer support. Naturally, third-party payment processing is much more dangerous than traditional payment processing, which risk is regrettably frequently forwarded to the retailers using these types of services, by means of withheld funds, account freezes, and sudden account terminations. Compounding Square’s account stability issues is Square’s poor/slow customer care, that make it hard to solve business-critical account problems.

Fortunately, there’s something that you can do like a merchant to prevent the kinds of account problems some Square users experience find out more within our article regarding how to avoid credit card merchant account holds, freezes, and terminations. 

Moving forward, ShopKeep has far less negative reviews than Square, though that’s partially since it doesn’t have as many users as Square (ShopKeep reported 16,000 registers being used by early 2015, whereas Square’s users have been in the millions). Some ShopKeep retailers are unhappy concerning the limitation of merely one florida sales tax, however for most users appear to become pretty quite happy with the service.

You should check out Square’s and ShopKeep’s particular Better Business Bureau’s profiles here and here (observe that Square isn’t BBB-accredited, while ShopKeep is).

Final Verdict:

Champion: Tie

Square is a straightforward and somewhat cheaper option to a complete-featured POS like ShopKeep. Square is a superb choice small companies and begin-ups — it essentially runs itself. Square offers a lot of features and it has no fee, which makes it a less expensive option for lower-volume retailers. It&#8217s flexible service design enables employees, as the organization puts it, to “each be their very own reason for purchase.” Additionally, it offers the opportunity to setup a built-in online storefront.

ShopKeep, however, is a superb option for companies which require hard data and tools to handle employees, inventory, and customers. ShopKeep provides more responsive customer care than Square while offering numerous payment processing options, while Square users are tied to Square’s in-house processor, that has not-so-great account stability and greater charge card transaction rates (when compared with, for instance, Payline Data, that can be used with ShopKeep).

Overall, Square is a superb, financially achievable option for casual micro-companies who wish to accept mobile payments, particularly if they should also sell online. ShopKeep is much better for greater-volume companies who require a far more robust point-of-purchase system. We love to these two services a great deal and also the choice really depends upon your unique needs. You can call us if you want any help deciding between these mobile POS systems, or other POS for instance!

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What’s NFC and Why Would You Care?

Contactless payment. Female hand holding mobile phone. NFC technology. Retro style illustration.

When Apple announced its new Apple Pay feature in September 2014, it had been easily probably the most exciting developments in mobile payments in a long time. By utilizing NFC, Apple basically enabled iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users to ditch their wallets and go digital (a minimum of, for many purchases).

What is NFC? And just what will it mean for you personally? Let&#8217s check out fraxel treatments and every one of its implications.

What’s NFC?

NFC means &#8220Near field communication.&#8221 Small chips produce a outcomes of two devices to deliver data. Like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and RFID, it&#8217s a radio technology, and also you&#8217ll observe that the technology is carefully related, particularly where cellular devices are worried. NFC really started out RFID and uses radio waves to deliver data.

NFC really assumes three forms:

  • Device-to-Device
  • Card Emulation
  • Tag Readers and Author

We&#8217ll take particular notice at many of these forms inside a bit. However, let&#8217s discuss how NFC matches along with other mobile tech.

Unlike 4G, Wi-Fi, or perhaps Bluetooth, NFC is brief range. Devices have to be inside a couple of centimeters of one another (under 2 “). Like Bluetooth, you don&#8217t have to pay any other charges for doing things.

NFC has some major advantages over Bluetooth. First, it takes much less energy. Since NFC could be one-way or more-way, you don&#8217t always need an energy supply for components. (We&#8217ll enter into that later.)

Should you&#8217ve ever worked with the irritation of attempting to pair Bluetooth devices, have faith. Pairing devices with NFC can also be far simpler. Just tap the devices together.

NFC may also transmit data quicker than Bluetooth, that makes it well suited for mobile payments.

Device-to-Device NFC

With Device-to-Device NFC, you are able to exchange files between two devices. Which includes photos, videos, as well as contact details. Samsung continues to be using NFC in the phones because it launched the Universe S II (although it was just on select models the S III saw NFC become standard).

NFC and Bluetooth (and Wi-Fi Direct) really play nicely with one another, therefore it&#8217s easy to use NFC for pairing and Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct for that actual data exchange. Android Beam uses NFC and Bluetooth, while Samsung&#8217s S-Beam uses NFC and Wi-Fi Direct.

Actually, NFC is when most smartwatches now pair with smartphones. Which includes The new sony&#8217s Smartwatch 2, the Samsung Universe Gear, you will find, the Apple Watch. You may also use NFC for pairing phones with Bluetooth loudspeakers or printers.

Card Emulation

Card emulation is most likely where NFC shows probably the most promise. It&#8217s the driving pressure in mobile payments, utilized in both Apple Pay and Google Wallet. The concept is equivalent to other &#8220contactless&#8221 cards. You simply take the phone into range to accomplish the translation having a tap.

With GSM phones (AT&ampT, T-Mobile along with a couple of other carriers), your Sim turns into a &#8220secure element&#8221 that identifies you and also protects the data. A separate &#8220smart card&#8221 nick may also be used to secure the transaction in phones using CDMA (Verizon and Sprint).

Tag Readers and Author

Remember how NFC chips don&#8217t require power supplies for many applications? That&#8217s what we should mean here. It&#8217s easy to place small stickers with NFC chips on printed material along with other surfaces. Your smartphone would then have the ability to browse the &#8220tag.&#8221 It might open a trailer should you scanned a film poster, or produce a coupon for you personally should you passed a presentation inside a store. Sure, the idea is comparable to a QR code readers, but smartphone cameras use much more battery juice than NFC.

How Can Mobile Payments Use NFC?

Let&#8217s take particular notice at both Apple Pay and Android Pay (formerly Google Wallet), each of which use NFC in mobile payments. Google Wallet came first, however it never really found its foothold. Then, Apple launched its very own NFC payments application, Apple Pay, in 2014. In 2015, Google announced Android Pay, and rebranded Google Wallets like a peer-to-peer payments application different color leaves as PayPal.

To make use of Apple Pay on the smartphone, press your finger towards the Home Button (your phone uses TouchID to ensure your identity). While you pass your phone within the contact-less readers it completes the transaction. You may also make use of an Apple Watch to accomplish Apple Pay transactions. Apple Pay is recognized greater than a million store locations. You can browse the listing of companies here.

To make use of Android Pay, your smartphone needs to be running Android 4.4 (KitKat) with NFC. Simply unlock your phone (the lock screen should be enabled) and tap the telephone towards the terminal. Android Pay is recognized anywhere Apple Pay is &#8212 essentially any store which has an NFC-enabled terminal. You’ll find their email list here.

The Issue

Complicating this trouble (a minimum of during the time of penning this) may be the alternative mobile payment being produced by retailers. It&#8217s known as CurrentC, also it&#8217s the creation from the Merchant Customer Exchange, including companies for example Walmart, Michaels, 7-Eleven, as well as Southwest Airlines. Individuals same retailers, despite getting the capacity to simply accept Apple Pay or Android Pay, are refusing to.

CurrentC doesn&#8217t use NFC. Rather, it produces a scannable bar code on screen of the phone. The instalments are deducted from your money.

Around the plus side, it&#8217s so fundamental just about any smartphone supports it. Since payments undergo accounts, additionally, it saves merchants quite a little bit of cash on charges.

However, the app also potentially gives retailers a substantial amount of data in regards to you, and privacy issues naturally abound.

At this time, can be which mobile payment option will emerge ahead. However with Apple finally tossing the weight behind NFC, and now Android Pay broadly available to the Android user-base, mobile payments appear to become poised to have an explosion in recognition.

As a small company, you’re in a good position to get among the forward-thinking NFC retailers in your town that accept ApplePay and other kinds of mobile business.

Would you already accept a kind of NFC payment? Or are you currently looking for a place-of-sale system that enables you to accept NFC? Let&#8217s chat within the comments!

The publish What’s NFC and Why Would You Care? made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Best Help guide to Accepting Mobile Payments

This Year, the PewResearch Internet Project discovered that 65 % of respondents in the survey thought that by 2020, mobile payments may have almost entirely replaced the requirement for cash or perhaps charge cards. And if you&#8217re a merchant who&#8217s not accepting mobile payments yet, you&#8217re already behind the bend.

Now is a great time to have a look at why you ought to accept mobile payments, we’ve got the technology in play (and just what&#8217s coming), not to mention, the main players. We&#8217ll also demonstrate how to pull off obtaining the tools you have to accept mobile payments.

Why you ought to Accept Mobile Payments

Accepting mobile payments

Infographic by Jess3. Source: http://visual.ly/global-rise-mobile-payments

The truth is, business proprietors can&#8217t manage to focus on cash-only systems. Even though you&#8217re only a small-time crafts business and attend a couple of shows annually, should you don&#8217t accept card payments, you’re passing up on an enormous quantity of potential earnings.

Based on a 2012 study through the Fed, lots of people carry less than $20 in cash. Even though cash transactions were the most typical kind of transaction, their overall value was under credit, debit, or electronic transactions. By 2017, experts predict cash will take into account just 23 percent of transactions.

In a nutshell: if you would like people a larger investment along with you, you have to accept cards.

Technological progress around the mobile payments front continues to be slow. Square introduced its mobile payment system, enabling smartphone proprietors to show their devices into card readers, in ’09.

Google Wallet debuted this year, turning individuals same phones into digital wallets that replaced cards and funds, supplying, obviously, the business had the required equipment.

PayPal, the darling of e-commerce for a long time, didn&#8217t introduce its very own mobile payment solution until 2012.

However in 2014, Apple finally debuted its very own mobile payment solution, Apple Pay, which utilizes biometric authentication and NFC to create payments through the iPhone and Apple Watch. The adoption rate among Apple Pay is promising, with major retailers reporting massive increases in mobile payments.

In a nutshell: Apple joining the mobile payments field, and getting aboard a large number of major companies along the way, would be a big advance.

And also in 2015, Google made the decision to exchange Google Wallet&#8217s mobile payment abilities with a brand new application known as Android Pay. Google Wallet grew to become a peer-to-peer payments tool, allowing users to transmit money to buddies and family.

A 2015 study through the Given discovered that 22 percent of cell phone users and 28 percent of smartphone users had designed a mobile payment in the past year. That&#8217s up from 16 percent of cell phone users in 2014. And mobile transactions increased with a whopping 118 percent over five years, according to Business Insider.

Comprehending the Consumer Mindset

Researching the market may be the cornerstone associated with a effective strategic business plan. Here is exactly the same: Before you begin adding mobile payments for your business, it&#8217s essential that you understand a bit concerning the consumer mindset regarding them. Knowing your consumer can help you choose which option is the best for both you and your business.

Overall, there&#8217s great news. In america, Europe, and lots of japan, the outlook is usually positive and individuals are receptive. And when people begin using mobile payments, they are more inclined to keep doing so. The rate and ease of mobile are generally big factors within their appeal, so you have to remember this.

Plus, smartphones are starting to saturate the marketplace. An astonishing 82 % of 18-to-25-year-olds had smartphones by Q4 2013. About 60 % of the parents have smartphones, too.

That, however, doesn&#8217t mean there aren&#8217t any barriers to resistance or objections. Actually, a couple of pervasive myths might be keeping consumers from going mobile:

Infographic: Mobile Payment Myths

Infographic by Intuit. Source: http://payments.intuit.com/
mobile-payments-myths/

A 2013 survey by Accenture revealed some surprising insights about consumer sentiment toward mobile payments:

  • Many people understand their phones can complete mobile payments, however the adoption minute rates are low. That stated, once individuals have designed a mobile payment, they’re certainly going to keep doing so.
  • People aren&#8217t prepared to switch banks, upgrade phones, or make other changes just to obtain more support for mobile payments. Quite simply, it&#8217s around the merchant to become as flexible as you possibly can where mobile payments are worried.
  • Most importantly, individuals are concerned about privacy, security, and convenience with regards to mobile payments. Additionally they worry about value. Sixty percent of people that make mobile payments will make much more of them if utilizing their smartphone generated instant coupons. Several-third of mobile payment users are prepared to give private information in return for that convenience. They’re also thinking about value-added tools like receipt tracking.
  • Additionally to coupon incentives, consumers want to see other tools to supplement mobile payments. Which means features like receipt tracking or perhaps balance checkers might make an impact in adoption rate, as would having the ability to make use of a cell phone as evidence of ID.
  • Possibly most surprisingly, consumers AREN&#8217T waiting to determine what technology claims dominance. Which means there&#8217s likely room for a lot of types of mobile payments on the market, and it wouldn’t be impractical to think about finding a method to accept variations.

There&#8217s a little bit of push and pull happening here. There&#8217s a proper segment of shoppers who wish to use mobile payments. You may also lure new users to use mobile payments with the proper incentives.

Also important to note: Millennials, undoubtedly the greatest users of technology, are far interested in financial choices from technology, e-commerce and payment giants like PayPal, Amazon . com, Google, and Apple compared to what they have been in services using their own banks. One-third of them feel they won&#8217t want to use a financial institution whatsoever soon.

That stated, over fifty percent from the commercial banks have some type of mobile banking, and 61 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds who own smartphones use mobile banking. They have a tendency to determine their bank as interchangeable along with other banks, that is most likely one of the reasons for curiosity about alternative payments. The 2008 recession most likely didn&#8217t do much to assist Millennial perceptions of banks, either.

Mobile Payment Technology

At this time, you will find three contenders competing for dominance in mobile payments. They all have its very own advantages and disadvantages:

  • NFC
  • QR Codes
  • iBeacon

Let&#8217s take particular notice each and every to actually know how they might dominate mobile payments.

NFC

NFC, or near-field communication, is really a contactless data transfer system similar to RFID. When two NFC-enabled devices enter into range, you are able to transfer data from together (for example getting a telephone in selection of a charge card terminal). It plays well along with other technology for example Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, that is a huge advantage.

NFC isn&#8217t ubiquitous (yet), however it&#8217s found in many phones, particularly the flagship devices from Samsung, LG, and The new sony. Apple finally leaped in to the NFC game in 2014, and Google relaunched its mobile payments service as Android Pay in 2015. Samsung also launched its very own application, aptly named Samsung Pay, in 2015.

NFC is really a safe way of payments. Sensitive information is kept in a safe and secure element, either included in the Sim of the phone or put into another nick. Generally, retailers never really see your card or banking account data.

For any much deeper take a look at NFC, check out our guide, &#8220What is NFC, and Why Would You Care?&#8221

QR Codes

QR codes, or quick-response codes, have the type of ubiquity that NFC lacks. They work similar to your standard barcode symbols, with the exception that rather of counting on one-dimensional analog checking, they’re digital. This means that having a QR code readers application, your smartphone&#8217s camera could be temporarily converted to a scanner. QR codes can embed far more information than your standard barcode symbols, which provides them the ability to complete such things as open mobile sites, lead you to YouTube Videos, you will find, even allow you to complete mobile payments.

iBeacon

iBeacon is definitely an Apple-developed technology that utilizes Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE, or sometimes also known as Bluetooth Smart). Unlike another two kinds of technology, it&#8217s really still within the developmental stages. While you can use it for mobile payments, right now the greatest application for iBeacon is really as closeness alert or geo-fence that may go where Gps navigation doesn&#8217t.

It really works such as this: iBeacon units are positioned up within a building (like a mall). If somebody by having an iBeacon-enabled device makes selection of individuals beacons, they transmit information. A few of the ways fraxel treatments might be used is always to transmit mobile coupons or any other special deals, to steer customers through the store by department, or perhaps to enable them to find specific products on the grocery list.

A primary reason that NFC had an edge over Bluetooth for any lengthy there was a time the huge quantity of energy that Bluetooth needed. However, BLE uses much less energy than its predecessors, and that’s why it&#8217s now becoming more popular for pairing wireless rodents and keyboards (the batteries can last considerably longer). iBeacons with Bluetooth Smart technology won&#8217t be considered a massive power-suck for consumers. Plus, iBeacons have a further range than NFC: NFC devices have to be within 8 inches (though 2 ” is really most effective). iBeacons, however, have a variety of 50 meters, or about 165 ft.

For payments, iBeacons works as being similar to NFC: the telephone would wirelessly transmit payment information towards the terminal or beacon via Bluetooth.

It&#8217s also important to note that although iBeacons are Apple technology, they aren’t only at iOS devices. The telephone just will need Bluetooth Smart and also the appropriate application. In addition, Samsung announced its own form of the iBeacon, known as Closeness, at its 2014 developer conference in November. it really works exactly the same way as iBeacons, but instead of dealing with an application, Closeness works directly using the phone&#8217s hardware.

Even Facebook features its own Beacon service for companies. The beacons prompt people to the place to love the organization&#8217s Facebook page and offers additional information.

Major Players in Mobile Payments

Let&#8217s begin by analyzing a few of the major players in mobile payments, where they stand, and just how they compare when stacked facing one another. Included in this are:

  • Apple Pay
  • Android Pay
  • CurrentC
  • Flint
  • Square
  • LevelUp
  • PayPal Here
Apple Pay
apple-pay-logo

When Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Also in September 2014, additionally, it introduced Apple Pay, which utilizes a mix of biometrics and NFC to accomplish mobile payments. Furthermore, Apple already had major retailers arranged to begin accepting Apple Pay. With this particular mobile payment method, consumers never need to give their names, charge card figures, or security codes to retailers. Rather, Apple utilizes a unique device ID to process the transaction.

Apple Pay works together with debit and credit cards for major US banks, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express from Chase, US Bank, Wells Fargo, PNC, and much more. You should check out the entire listing of banks and retailers here.

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Android Pay

Before Apple Pay, there is Google Wallet. It never acquired much traction, however in 2015, Google launched Android Pay, the successor to Google Wallet. (GW continues to be available, but because a mobile wallet and peer-to-peer payments application.) Android Pay also uses NFC. To really make it work, you have to let the lock screen in your device. Unlock the telephone together with your preferred method (fingerprint scanner, PIN, or pattern) and tap it towards the terminal to accomplish the transaction.

There&#8217s also the Google Wallet Card. It&#8217s debit cards from MasterCard, that’s linked straight to your Google Wallet balance. You are able to link your GW account to your Android Pay account as well as withdraw cash from ATMs using the card.

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CurrentC
CurrentC_App

Apple Pay encountered some trouble when some major retailers (including CVS and Rite Aid) disabled its NFC terminals to bar Apple Pay. The main reason? Wal-Mart, Best To Buy, Rite Aid, CVS along with other retailers have partnered inside a partnership known as the Merchant Customer Exchange, that is creating a mobile payment option known as CurrentC.

CurrentC uses QR codes instead of NFC. However the CurrentC process is slow, much slower than NFC, and extremely clunky. It&#8217s exactly the same kind of system combined with direct deposits. First, the client must scan the QR code generated by register while using CurrentC application. Then, the cashier scans the QR code generated through the phone.

The main reason people from the MCE are tossing their support behind CurrentC is it could conceivably enable them to sidestep the charges that charge card issuers charge. Most retailers pay between 1 % and three percent from the transaction in charges. CurrentC would sidestep this by utilizing checking accounts, gift certificates, and store-issued an atm card.

Right now, CurrentC hasn’t gone live, however the application will come in iTunes and Google Play. Worth mentioning is the fact that in October 2014, CurrentC was hacked and user emails were stolen. That&#8217s before the woking platform is fully ready to go.

Here&#8217s why that&#8217s so troubling:

CurrentC collects your driver&#8217s license number, your ssn, as well as your birth date to ensure your identity. Additionally, it collects your wellbeing information. Plus, among the key selling options that come with CurrentC may be the coupon-and-rewards feature. While it might be a large draw for purchasers, additionally, it reveals a lot of data about users as well as their shopping habits. Everything information goes directly to retailers, since retailers are the type who developed the platform.

Apple Pay, by comparison, doesn’t collect that data, also it doesn&#8217t share any information with retailers.

Flint
Flint-mobile-logo

Unlike another mobile payment options we&#8217ve discussed to date, Flint doesn&#8217t need any kind of terminal. It&#8217s a really &#8220mobile&#8221 solution because all that you should accept payments is the phone, that makes it well suited for service companies which make house calls along with other vendors who travel. Flint&#8217s mobile application works together with the digital camera to scan cards (note: it never stores the photos it requires of the charge card) and process payments. Which means no fighting with card readers as you’ve to with PayPal and Square. However, you are able to only accept Visa and MasterCard right now, with no pre-compensated cards. (It&#8217s also important to note that in October 2014, Flint guaranteed $9.4 million in funding, with Verizon adding the majority of it).

Flint offers invoicing, support for mobile coupons (via email and Apple Passbook), and digital receipts for money and appearance options. Should you also sell online, you may also setup an e-commerce system for checkout using Flint. For retailers, Flint&#8217s rates rely on regardless if you are charging a debit or credit card: for debit, you have to pay 1.95 % for credit, 2.95 %. Money is deposited straight into your bank account within 2 working days.

Square
Square-POS-Logo

Square really was the very first company to go in the mobile payments space, completely in 2009. Anybody having a cell phone could start swiping cards and accepting payments having a dongle that connects to headphone jack. Square, like other mobile payment services, charges a set rate per transaction.

For card swipes, retailers pay 2.75 %. Should you key the transaction in by hand, that jumps to three.five percent plus $.15. Square&#8217s greatest issue, from the merchant perspective, is its difficulties with holding funds if this suspects fraud. Otherwise, retailers obtain money within 1-2 working days.

Using the EMV liability shift, Square introduced a brand new card readers that is capable of doing studying the nick-and-PIN cards. It provides 2 types of the readers, including one which has NFC support to be able to accept payments via Apple Pay, Android Pay, along with other NFC-based services.

LevelUp
LevelUp-logo

LevelUp is really a mobile payments processor with increased functionality than the other available choices we&#8217ve seen. It really works much like CurrentC for the reason that you scan QR codes. However, instead of linking to some banking account, it enables users to produce a mobile wallet using their debit and credit cards (the website states any U.S. debit or charge card is recognized). Additionally, it integrates with loyalty programs and generates coupons for you personally. LevelUp has greater than 14,000 partners, and you should check out their email list here.

Like Square, LevelUp includes a POS functionality. However, LevelUp also adds its very own terminal devices, that also support NFC and iBeacon. Much more promising, LevelUp&#8217s application for consumers can be obtained not only for Android and iOS, but additionally Home windows Phones.

Another thing that sets LevelUp apart is its open platform, that can be used to integrate to your own systems. You are able to integrate it into greater than 40 other POS systems in addition to e-commerce an internet-based ordering platforms.

Retailers pay just 1.95 % per transaction, without any chargebacks. Money is deposited the following day to your account.

PayPal Here
paypal-here-logo

PayPal is, unquestionably, a huge in e-commerce, as well as in 2012 it finally moved into mobile payments. Like Square, you need to simply swipe the credit card while using free card readers. The funds you collect go straight into your PayPal account are available for you quickly. If you possess the PayPal bank card, the different options are the cash inside your PayPal account when it&#8217s inside at any location that accepts charge cards.

Like Square and LevelUp, retailers are billed flat charges per transaction. There’s additionally a POS system and support for invoicing. You are able to accept checks by snapping photos together with your phone&#8217s camera. PayPal Here charges 2.7 % for card swipes, though manual key-ins are 3.five percent plus $.15.

Something also worth mentioning is PayPal&#8217s One Touch. This mobile solution enables you to definitely stay logged to your PayPal account in your phone and employ that to accomplish any in-application purchases.

Like Square, PayPal also offers an EMV-compliant readers with NFC abilities to be able to accept mobile payments via consumers&#8217 selected apps.

Accepting Mobile Payments with a free account

What must you do in order to start accepting mobile payments? Should you travel for the business, a mobile solution like PayPal Here’s most likely the greater choice for you. However, if you want POS capacity and also have a brick-and-mortar location, you’ll need an NFC-enabled terminal that may accept Android Pay, Apple Pay, yet others.

Credit card merchant account providers can frequently assist you to get yourself a terminal, because of free or at an inexpensive. Let&#8217s check out a few of the top-rated providers, using their charges for their terminal options.

  • Dharma A Merchant Account
  • CDGcommerce
  • Helcim
  • PaylineData
  • PaymentDepot
Dharma A Merchant Account
dharma-merchant-services-logo

Dharma A Merchant Account offers retail and e-commerce solutions alike, if you come with an web store in addition to a physical store you are able to integrate them easily. As opposed to a tiered prices model Dharma charges a $15 fee every month (including PCI compliance) by having an interchange-plus cost model for transactions. Dharma charges .25 % along with an additional $.10 per transaction for in-person transactions, and .35 % plus $.10 for e-commerce.

For small companies (individuals earning under $10,000 per month), Dharma includes a partnership with Flint, so use a smartphone or tablet to process charge cards. However, this doesn&#8217t provide NFC abilities.

Terminals: During the time of penning this, Dharma can re-program your overall equipment to utilize its services for $100. For $299, you can aquire a VeriFone Vx520 terminal, that is NFC enabled in addition to EMV ready.

(EMV is really a global standard that will become a lot more common stateside in 2015 because of the massive liability shift that starts in October 2015. Essentially, this means that debit and credit cards includes a unique nick that gives extra security. Basically we&#8217re more worried about mobile payments here, you need to certainly locate a terminal that’s EMV compatible too.)

Also worth mentioning: Dharma donates 50 % of their profits to charitable organization. It&#8217s additionally a certified eco-friendly business and B-corp. If social or ecological responsibility are part of your company model, this appears such as the apparent fit.

CDGcommerce
cdgcommerce-logo

CDGcommerce also offers retail and e-commerce payment solutions — but additionally, it includes a mobile payment option that Dharma lacks, known as ProcessNow.

Prices wise, CDG charges 1.95 % plus $.30 for online transactions, 1.7 % plus $.25 for swipes, and 1.7 % plus $.25 for mobile transactions. On the top of this, there&#8217s a $10 monthly support package as well as an optional cdg360 package with value-added security measures for $15 per month.

Terminals: For $79 annually, CDG will give you an EMV-ready and NFC-enabled PerkWave terminal along with a customer-facing readers. It&#8217s suitable for Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Softcard, along with the remaining NFC payment services. CDG also promises to replace it all within 24 hrs. The long run-proofing guarantee helps to ensure that if another bit of technology becomes standard (for example iBeacon), it’ll change your terminal. Plus, you receive free terminal reprogramming for just about any existing equipment, a totally free USB card swiper that&#8217ll use most Home windows and Mac devices for those who have existing software, and much more.

Helcim
helcim-logo

Helcim is yet another processor with multiple solutions: it provides an online terminal for implementing computers or running an e-commerce site, retail solutions with terminals, along with a mobile payment solution, all on the monthly subscription plan plus interchange-plus prices (Helcim calls it cost-plus prices).

The virtual terminal package runs $30 per month, the retail package runs $12 per month, and also the mobile package runs $25 per month. CDG charges just .18 percent per transaction for mobile and retail transactions, and .36 percent for virtual/e-commerce transactions.

Your monthly subscription also covers PCI compliance. The mobile package incorporates a totally free card readers and limitless users — but additional card visitors $45 each.

Terminals: With Helcim, you possess an range of terminal choices to accept mobile payments, beginning at $199. Re-programming of terminals is free of charge, and the organization offers exchanges for $45, where it’ll give back a refurbished pre-programmed model.

Payline Data
payline-data-logo

Payline Data again provides retail, e-commerce, and mobile solutions, also it claims to give the cheapest rates, guaranteed. They&#8217ll even provide you with $500 whether they can&#8217t beat your overall prices.

Payline uses interchange-plus prices on the top of the fee every month. Standard plans start at $5 monthly for any subscription, though you will get the professional take into account $20. Using the standard plan, you have to pay .five percent plus $.10, and pro accounts pay .2 percent plus $.10.

Terminals: Once again you can buy multiple terminals from VeriFone and Ingenico, including EMV and NFC devices. Prices start at $195. There is also a number of other retail supplies, including check readers, card readers, PIN pads, as well as receipt paper.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Payline Data will donate 10 % from the processing revenue from your bank account to some charitable organization of the selecting from Payline&#8217s listing of approved partners.

Payment Depot
payment-depot-logo

Payment Depot operates a little differently compared to other processors we&#8217ve spoken about here. Again you’ve mobile, retail, and e-commerce solutions. You are able to pay a regular monthly fee or perhaps an annual fee that discounts the price by 20 %. But rather of interchange-plus, you have to pay a set rate.

That fee depends upon the package you select, which depends upon your monthly volume.

  • For sales under $10,000: $199 each year ($20 monthly) $.25 per transaction.
  • For sales as much as $40,000: $399 each year (40 monthly) $.15 per transaction.
  • Limitless: $599 each year ($60 monthly) $.10 per transaction.

Using the mid-tier package there is also a totally free virtual terminal so that you can enter payments from the browser or mobile phone. Using the limitless plan, Payment Depot offers an EMV-ready Smart Terminal.

Terminals: Again, you can aquire a free Smart Terminal using the limitless plan. Should you&#8217re not doing quite that volume, Payment Depot can reprogram existing equipment free of charge. Otherwise, you are able to use the organization to obtain a new terminal of the selecting, which will come at wholesale cost (the website states costs start just $49).

Final Ideas

We&#8217re residing in digital age, folks. Consumers have not had a lot of options, approximately much power — and for retailers, that may certainly appear frightening. And when you&#8217re not devotedly following a latest developments in technology, the idea of stepping into the sport can appear overwhelming.

Anything you do, don&#8217t just sit around at nighttime ages.

We&#8217re here to assist. Take a look at our reviews of charge card processors/credit card merchant account providers, in addition to our overview of mobile payment solutions. Need assistance selecting a service provider? Call us for help. We will also help you select a web-based shopping cart software to get involved with e-commerce, and pick a qualified POS software for you personally.

What else would you like to learn about accepting mobile payments? Ask away!

The publish The Best Help guide to Accepting Mobile Payments made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Mobile Payment Processing 101

how do mobile payments work

Should you focus on Internet buzz whatsoever, you&#8217ve most likely heard the term &#8220mobile&#8221 tossed out a great deal. Almost everything&#8217s gone mobile — gaming, marketing, shopping, you will find, even payments.

Using the rise of apps like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, more shoppers have found it easy to ditch the credit card altogether and merely depend on their own phones for payments. And much more phones support we’ve got the technology needed, too.

Just how will it all work? How can you even start establishing your company to simply accept mobile payments? And really should you?

Today we&#8217ll cover the fundamentals of methods mobile payments work, what you ought to enable them for the business, and regardless of whether you really have to accept mobile payments at this time.

What Exactly Are Mobile Payments?

Mobile payments aren&#8217t by any means new. Individuals have been toying with the thought of having to pay with mobile phones because the 1990s, although it&#8217s only lately removed as a possible option for consumers AND retailers.

However the term &#8220mobile payments&#8221 is really a broad one. Generally, it refers to 1 of four things:

  1. In-store mobile payments: Also known as contactless payments, or sometimes mPOS payments. This requires utilizing a phone (or smartwatch) to pay for rather of swiping a charge card or having to pay with cash.
  2. Mobile eCommerce: Sometimes known as mCommerce. This requires making use of your phone to create purchases online, for example with the Amazon . com application, in addition to online bill pay using your phone.
  3. Mobile peer-to-peer: Also referred to as P2P. Including services for example PayPal, SnapCash, Square Cash, and Google Wallet, which allow you to send money to buddies and family totally free.
  4. Mobile Charge Card Swiping: This is alternative way the word &#8220mobile payments&#8221 is most generally used, also it describes retailers using their phones (or a tablets) to simply accept cards, as opposed to a traditional POS terminal. You may hear this more precisely known as mobile processing.

Ideas&#8217re mostly worried about in-store payments, but we&#8217ll discuss a few of the others.

How Popular Is Mobile Payment Processing?

So what would be the adoption rates like? The Given, in the 2015 survey, discovered that 28 percent of smartphone users and 22 percent of cell phone users had designed a mobile payment previously year. That, obviously, includes all sorts of payments sent via a phone, not only to-store payments.

Not just that, however the industry appears majorly poised for growth, with payments likely to hit $37 billion in 2015 — and jump to some massive $808 billion by 2019, based on estimates by Business Insider. Individuals figures are really slightly less than BI&#8217s original projections due to how late around Samsung Pay and Android Pay launched.

Want more statistics and compelling good reasons to consider going mobile yourself? Take a look at our Ultimate Help guide to Mobile Payments. Should you&#8217re thinking about taking payments in your phone, make sure to take a look at our comprehensive guide.

How Can Mobile Payments Work?

Nowadays, most mobile payment processing methods depend on NFC — that’s, near-field communication. NFC works nearly the same as RFID technology. When two NFC-enabled products are in range, they are able to transfer data (for example payment information) from together. Within this situation, we&#8217re speaking a good NFC-enabled charge card terminal (we&#8217ll return to that in just a minute) and also the consumer&#8217s smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch.

You can aquire a more in depth explanation of NFC within our article here.

The less-common alternative is using QR codes. They&#8217re similar to traditional barcodes, except they are able to hold a lot more information. The mobile phone opens an application that generates the QR code and also the merchant&#8217s POS system scans the bar code. At this time, LevelUp is among the few mobile payment options that utilizes QR codes. It supports NFC, as well as an less-common technology known as iBeacons.

The great factor about LevelUp is the fact that the organization works with companies to build up white-colored-label mobile payment apps. That means they&#8217ll produce a custom, branded application only for you. Consumers can download the application and employ that to create payments inside your stores (or restaurants).

The Customer Merchant Exchange, helmed by Walmart along with a couple of other institutions, have attempted to push CurrentC, a QR code-based choice for greater acceptance, however it&#8217s simply not removing the way in which NFC-based payments did when Apple Pay broke to the scene.

How Secure are Mobile Payments?

It&#8217s becoming more and more harder to help keep consumer data secure. Take, as an example the great Target Hack of 2013. As well as on a far more personal level, how many occasions have you ever received a brand new bank card just because a merchant&#8217s data was compromised?

Swiping a charge card just isn&#8217t a really secure type of payment because charge card figures are now being stored and transmitted more than a network.

Mobile payments — particularly, NFC-based ones — offer greater peace of mind because many of them depend on tokenization. Each time a shopper uses their mobile device to create a payment, the unit generates just one-use charge card number it transmits towards the merchant. Consequently, you, the shop owner, will never be really coping with the client&#8217s sensitive information.

Not just that, however the mobile phone&#8217s CPU rarely, when, handles the transaction and also the card details aren&#8217t really stored around the device. Rather, a safe and secure element or smart nick, outside of the CPU, generates the amount and transmits it towards the merchant&#8217s system. Card information is kept in the cloud and may usually be easily wiped remotely if your device gets lost.

Additionally, most devices that support mPOS payments require consumer to ensure their identity in some manner before finishing the transaction. For Apple Pay, it&#8217s the TouchID fingerprint scanner. For Android Pay, it&#8217s the action of unlocking the telephone (meaning consumers need to enable the lock screen to start with).

None of the is completely invulnerable, but the truth is, no payment technique is. However, you don&#8217t need to bother about mobile payments being less secure than other methods.

What Must you Accept Mobile Payments?

The good thing is that you simply don&#8217t have to significantly overhaul your whole system if you wish to accept mobile payments. All you actually need is definitely an NFC-capable charge card terminal. Since NFC is exactly what drives Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, you are able to accept the 3 payment methods (in addition to whatever other apps might emerge later) with similar bit of hardware.

Yes, upgrading terminals sounds somewhat costly proposition, particularly if you have multiple registers and locations. The good thing is by using the EMV liability shift on October first, 2015, lots of credit card merchant account providers and pay-as-you-go services (Square and PayPal, for instance) happen to be offering new, &#8220future proof&#8221 terminals to retailers. Most of those terminals will also be already outfitted with NFC. If you just got such a terminal, you may curently have what you ought to accept mobile payments. Should you&#8217re still searching at obtaining a new terminal and you need to accept mobile payments, search for one with NFC. And when you upgrade in the standard magstripe readers that Square and PayPal offer, you will get an NFC-enabled device.

Now, should you&#8217re searching at LevelUp, you&#8217re gonna need to purchase the QR code scanners (should you don&#8217t have), which run $50 each. And when your POS isn&#8217t suitable for LevelUp, you’ll need a tablet or more, or three ($100 each through the organization).

In The Event You Result in the Change to Accept NFC?

At this time, mobile payments and NFC are extremely small players within the bigger payments industry. Yes, the adoption minute rates are rising, but you’re most unlikely at this time from the game to really lose sales because of not accepting mobile payments. (Not accepting charge cards whatsoever is yet another matter entirely.)

However, having the ability to process NFC payments will help you stay around the leading edge of the profession. In case your audience is youthful and tech savvy, it&#8217s more worth purchasing we’ve got the technology to simply accept mobile payments than if, for instance, most of your audience is seniors.

Have questions regarding mobile payments? Leave us a remark! And when you&#8217re not setup with charge card processing, we will help you choose a payment processor and obtain a low-cost machine with nick card and NFC abilities.

The publish Mobile Payment Processing 101 made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software

Best small business software

For most small business owners, it’s a jungle out there. Danger lurks around every corner, predators seem to be silently stalking your every movement, and – in the immortal words of Jethro Tull – the rivers are full of crocodile nasties. Let’s face it, when it comes to start-ups and small businesses the statistics are grim. According to one recent study, the failure rate of retail establishments after four years is over 50%, and businesses in the service industry usually meet the same fate. Sadly, restaurants tend to do even worse, and the majority are forced to close their doors before a decade has passed.

There are many reasons why businesses eventually fail – bad locations, limited staff, a poor economic climate, etc. But experts are beginning to agree that most failed businesses (no matter what industry they belong to) have one, very important factor in common: inexperience on the part of the owners/managers. It’s all very well to follow your dreams, but man does not live on dreams alone. For most of us, a little thing called money is required if we want to eat, access our electricity, wash our clothes, keep our children shod, etc. That’s right, money. It’s what you get when you run a business that brings in more revenue than it puts out. That sounds so simple: spend less than you make. But the reality is that pulling in a profit takes knowledge, skill, and access to the proper tools. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve opened up a cat-grooming boutique or finally launched that grilled-cheese food truck you’ve always wanted – if you don’t know what you’re doing when you set out, and/or don’t bother to learn as you go, you might as well throw your seed money down the storm drain.

Fortunately, at Merchant Maverick (MM), we understand how hard it can be to start a business – let alone to keep one going for more than a year or two. You shouldn’t have to do everything by yourself – keeping up with inventory, payment processing, invoicing, shipping, point of sale, website design and the like is nearly impossible without the right equipment (good ol’ pen and paper just doesn’t cut it anymore). The good news? Advances in software and cloud technology have resulted in some pretty impressive small business tools. Even better news? The writers and reviewers at MM have invested thousands of hours researching, testing, and rating small business services/software. In other words, we know our stuff. Running a business is a tremendous burden, but the heavy lifting has already been done – we’ve done if for you – and all you need do is benefit from our years of experience.

Each company below has undergone a rigorous evaluation by an experienced MM reviewer. We scoured websites, read help articles, and browsed through user forums. We talked to customer service and saw for ourselves how responsive they were. And most importantly, we tested the actual software or service ourselves. The following are our reviewers’ top small business software picks for merchant services/payment processing as well as for mobile payments, shopping carts, point of sale, accounting, inventory management, invoicing, booking, email marketing, CRM, project management, loyalty rewards, and website building.

So, without further ado, let the awards ceremony for the best small business software begin!

Merchant Account Providers

Winner: Dharma Merchant Services

dharma-merchant-services-logo

Dharma Merchant Services is one of our all-time favorite companies, period, here at Merchant Maverick. Defined by exceptional customer support, low-cost hardware, excellent industry connection, and reasonable negotiation-free rates and fees, Dharma is an ideal option for small businesses with in-person sales. It distinguishes itself from the competition by using only interchange-plus pricing and charging no early termination fees or monthly minimums. There are no annual fees, no application fees, and no pesky PCI compliance fees to deal with either. In addition, this company dedicates 50% of its net profits to charity. Dharma is basically a paragon of integrity, honesty, and respect, and it’s worth its weight in gold in this sometimes unscrupulous industry,

There is one small catch: businesses must process at least $10K per month to use Dharma Merchant Services. Businesses with smaller revenue streams are directed instead to Flint Mobile (see review below).

Dharma offers amazing in-house customer support during business hours (8:00am – 5:00pm Pacific Time). If you need support outside this time frame, you will be directed elsewhere, depending on the severity of your issue and what processor you’re using.

To read more about Dharma Merchant Services, see our full review here.

Runner-Up: CDGcommerce

cdgcommerce-logo

Boasting a great reputation and a low monthly base fee (which includes access to Quantum gateway), CDG Commerce is a budget friendly alternative to Dharma Merchant Services, especially for low-volume merchants or web-based businesses. CDG was established in 1998, and has had plenty of time to cultivate a reputation for honesty and excellence. In fact, customer complaints are nearly non-existent, which is a miracle in itself after nearly 20 years in business. Like Dharma, CDG offers interchange-plus pricing, does not charge an early termination fee, and has no gateway setup fees or PCI compliance fees.

CDG Commerce charges only $10 per month in base fees; beyond that, you can pick and choose which additional services you want to pay for. This is a great system, as it ensures that you won’t be stuck buying things you neither want, nor need.

CDG offers live chat, email, and phone support 24/7. In our experience, support staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and scrupulously honest.

Click here to read our full review of CDGcommerce.

Mobile Payments

Winner: Flint Mobile

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Flint Mobile is our overall top pick for mobile, based primarily on its speed, ease of use, reliability, and price point. To start off, it doesn’t offer a swiper – not a free one, not a paid one, just no reader whatsoever. You can either key in card numbers or simply use your phone’s camera to scan numbers instead. That in and of itself significantly reduces the cost for setting up your account. Flint therefore has the ability to offer lower rates, which is exactly what they do. And with a ridiculously low rate for processing debit alongside a very fair credit rate, they’re nearly impossible to beat.

Flint has only two rates:

  • Debit transactions: 1.95%
  • Credit transactions: 2.95%

Yep, that’s it. It doesn’t get more complicated than that at any point: there are no per transaction fees, no non-qualified fees, and no surcharges of any kind. Flint Mobile runs transactions at a much faster speed than other similar apps, and while it might take a couple tries to get your scanning settings set up the way you like, Flint makes customization an easy and intuitive process. Our one complaint is that they do not provide any means for printing a paper receipt.

One very important thing to mention about Flint Mobile is that, even with the EMV liability shift (effective October 1st, 2015), users have no need to upgrade hardware. The camera scan will continue to work as it always has, with no change to liability. Currently it’s the only mobile processor we’re aware of that will securely process chip cards with no hardware upgrade.

This app can’t replace a full-feature tablet POS, but it comes with a number of amazing features (integrated QR coupons, invoicing, customizable receipts, etc.) and executes service flawlessly. If you’re looking for a sensible, surefire way to accept payments and grow your clientele, you can’t go wrong with Flint Mobile.

If you’d like more information about Flint Mobile, check out our full review.

Runner-Up: Payline Data

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Payline Data is mostly a standard merchant account provider, but it has a good mobile solution and low-volume fee structure. Extra services are offered as-needed, so you only have to pay for what you need. There are two pricing models (to accommodate both low and high volume merchants):

Simple (Under $5,000 per month)

  • $5 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.50%
  • $0.10 per transaction

Pro (Over $5,000 per month)

  • $20 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.20%
  • $0.10 per transaction

We really appreciate the number of customer service and support outlets Payline provides, and it has an extensive knowledge base and FAQ for self-service support, which is quite nice.

Payline Data delivers on any businesses essential needs, and has managed to maintain positive reviews and a spotless reputation since 2009 – which is no small task in the credit card processing industry. In general, it’s a great pick for mobile processing for small businesses everywhere.

Find out more about Payline Data by reading our full review here.

Shopping Carts

Winner: Shopify

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Shopify is unique in that it can be used as a physical POS or an online shopping cart or both at once. This inherent flexibility gives it a clear edge over other shopping carts, and its low price point make it well within the reach for small businesses, even those with strained budgets. Shopify is the industry standard for shopping cart software, and for good reason. There are never any limits to the number of products you can sell, which is nice, though there aren’t many limits to the software in general.

All Shopify plans come with a full 14-day (no credit card required) trial. There are no setup or cancellation fees. Plans range from $14/month to $179/month with rates ranging from 2.9% + 30¢ to 2.4% + 30¢. You can pay on a month-to-month basis, but you’ll receive a 10% discount if you choose to pay for one year up front (a 20% discount is offered for those who sign a two-year contract). We’re not terribly fond of Shopify’s transaction fees, unfortunately, although they do get waived if you use Shopify as your credit card processor.

Shopify is eminently user friendly, and the cart is easy to set up and easy to manage. In our experience, the software works flawlessly from the point of view of both the customer and the merchant, and it is one of the most feature-rich carts available. It is accessible for online mavens, but it is also well within the reach of newcomers and amateurs. Shopify offers a number of apps, some of which are free and some of which may cost a small fee. You can check out Shopify’s App Store to browse offerings.

Customer support is available via phone, email, and live chat, but there are other great self-help resources as well, including a support center, Knowledge Base, a discussion forum, and a Shopify “Experts” page where you can find experienced professionals in design, marketing, development, and photography.

For more information, click here to read our full review of Shopify.

Runner-Up: Ecwid

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Ecwid, the “go anywhere, sell anything, no manual required” shopping cart, is designed for small eCommerce businesses, as well as for individual sellers and start-ups. We’re big fans of Ecwid, and there are two main reasons why. Firstly, it is extremely ubiquitous, and capable of integrating with nearly every existing website, from social media platforms to blogs. Secondly, it is so reasonably priced, compared to its competitors, that you would be foolish not to take it out for spin. Unlike most shopping carts, there is no typical “free trial period” for Ecwid. Instead, you can simply try out the Free Plan (the obvious advantage to doing this is that your services won’t be cancelled after your trial period ends).

Ecwid offers unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and no transaction fees on every subscription level, even the free plan. Paid plans range from $15/month to $99/month. Personal support by email and online chat are only available at higher subscription levels.

Like Shopify, Ecwid gives you the option to use the software as a physical POS. However, this function is really best suited for online-only business owners who want the option of having a mobile or “pop up shop” operation, but aren’t trying to maintain a physical storefront at all times.

In general, Ecwid is a solid product with great, user-friendly elements. It’s not the best solution for high-volume sales, but most companies out there (especially startups and very small businesses) will be fully satisfied with its features and ease of use.

Read our full review of Ecwid to learn more.

POS Software

Winner: ShopKeep

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ShopKeep is one of the best software solutions we’ve ever encountered at Merchant Maverick. This simple, elegant, and visually-appealing cloud-based POS has carved out a solid niche catering to small-business food and beverage sellers. For a very low monthly cost, ShopKeep can help you manage your inventory, customers, employees, as well as record transactions and offer a variety of reporting options (for analyzing all this data).

ShopKeep does not require you to sign a contract. It is a pay-as-you-go, monthly subscription service. There are no extra maintenance fees, and what’s more impressive, tech support is 100% included in the monthly charge. The actual pricing system is beautifully simple as well: $49/month/register.

Other than it’s extremely reasonable price point, ShopKeep’s biggest selling point is its ease-of-use. There is very little learning curve involved, and even the most technologically deficient should have no problem learning the ins and outs of this software in a matter of days (or hours, more likely).

Customer support is fantastic, and unlimited email, live chat, or phone is included in the monthly price. The support page on the company website is also fantastic, and offers comprehensive articles and video tutorials on every aspect of the software.

Read our full review of ShopKeep if you’d like more details.

Runner-Up: SalesVu

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SalesVu is a perfect POS for the average small business, offering a robust feature set at a competitive price. eCommerce options are built right into the software, so you can design your own site from the back office without ever having to pay for (and integrate) Shopify or hire an expensive third party designer. Integrated eCommerce also ensures that communications between the web store and the brick and mortar store are smooth and seamless.

Prices range from $25/month to $150/month, depending on how many features you need (things like time tracking, accounting, etc. are a bit extra). Basically, SalesVu can be as affordable as you need it to be. Additionally, when you open an account with SalesVu you get a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit (for some small business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need).

Customer service is good, but the primary strengths of this software are found in its intuitive interface and broad flexibility. It is so much more than just a mobile cash register. With SalesVu, you can monitor inventory, create detailed reports, design custom discounts and promotions, maintain an active customer database, and manage employees – and you can do all these things anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. Opening an account with SalesVu gets you a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit. For some business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need.

SalesVu integrates with SalesVu Easy Accounting, Quickbooks, Facebook, and Zapper.

You can check out our full review of SalesVu for more information.

Accounting Software

Winner: Xero

best small business accounting software

It’s not hard to see why Xero takes the prize for best small business accounting software. It is mobile, cloud-based, easy-to-use, and extremely comprehensible for the small business owner who is handling finances on his/her own (click here for a full list of features). While it can be more expensive long-term than something like QuickBooks Pro, small business owners – especially those who aren’t accountants by nature or profession – are more likely to enjoy using a simple, intuitive program like Xero.

There are multiple pricing plans available, ranging from $9/month to $70/month (these prices include updates as they are released, usually every 3-6 weeks). Small companies with limited invoicing needs would have to look far and wide for a similarly robust accounting/payroll package that trumps Xero’s $9/month price tag. And happily, you don’t have to sign a contract with Xero; plans are paid by the month and you can basically cancel the service at any time. Xero offers a 25% discount for non-profits and a 15% discount on your total bill if you subscribe for multiple businesses. If you do feel comfortable making a commitment and signing up for a 6 month subscription, you’ll get a 30% discount.

There are only a few minor problems with Xero, one of which is slow customer support response times. Customer service is offered 24/7, year-round, but some customers have complained of long response times, cut-and-paste answers to questions, and reps who don’t seem to actually know how to use the software. This would be a much bigger deal if Xero was complex or had a steep learning, curve, but it’s not as alarming considering the software’s general simplicity and ease of use. Furthermore, many customers praise Xero’s level of customer service, and the wait times are comparable to those of other accounting software programs.

One real perk of using Xero is that it integrates with over 400 other applications which can facilitate nearly every aspect of business operation, including inventory management, CRM, and POS (some of these are only available to certain countries; in the U.S., there are about 350 Xero integrations available). 

Read our full review of Xero here.

Runner-Up: QuickBooks Pro

Best small business accounting software

Intuit’s QuickBooks Pro is a robust, feature-rich accounting solution, perfect in many ways for small business (to see a full list of features, click here). It is locally installed software, which results in lower per-year costs and more features than your typical cloud-based software, so if you’re willing to deal with a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning (especially difficult for people who have no previous accounting background), then QB Pro can be an excellent way to save money in your accounting budget. Though it lacks the convenience of a cloud based solution – you don’t get automatic, routine updates or instant access to new features – it is a very viable accounting solution for companies with complex bookkeeping needs.

QuickBooks Pro’s list price is $299.95. This might seem a bit high compared to something like Xero, but keep in mind that QB Pro requires a one-time purchase and does not use a subscription model — and it is nearly always available at a discount. While there’s no free trial available, Intuit does back QB Pro with a 60-day guarantee; if you return the program for any reason within 60 days, you can get a full refund. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the purchase price does not include updates, nor do you get full tech support or bank feeds. It’s also worth noting that customer service tends to be slow.

One comment we’ve noticed often on user reviews is that, while people aren’t particularly enthusiastic about QB Pro, it works and does what it’s supposed to do; many claim that it’s the best accounting program available. While that’s far from a resounding recommendation, it’s also true that despite its drawbacks, for many businesses, QB Pro is more than adequate. And whether you love it or hate it, QuickBooks Pro is often the best option for the money.

Read our full review of QB Pro here.

Inventory Management Software

Winner: Stitch Labs

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Stitch, the flagship product of Stitch Labs, is a cloud-based inventory management solution with tons of functionality, myriad useful integrations, and fantastic customer service. Designed to combine inventory, billing, accounting, shipping, and eCommerce features with your choice of 3rd party integrations, Stitch is the do-it-all, full service inventory solution. As the name would suggest, it is intended to be the thread that holds the backend of your company firmly together. Really, its only flaw is that is designed exclusively for American companies. International businesses will have to look elsewhere. 

Price plans range from $29/month to $449/month, not bad considering how many features this software brings to the table. What’s more, Stitch is easy to use, even for the uninitiated. The UI is clean, understated, and intuitive. Within a few minutes of signing up, you should feel like a pro, able to create products and customer contacts and generate sales orders with ease. It’s easy to pick up on your own just by experimentation, but if you’re queasy about finding your own way around, you can reference one of the many tutorials on each page that take you step-by-step through all the basic tasks.

In general, the customer service department is responsive and helpful. Our questions were promptly answered (never longer than 24 hours, even on the weekend), and ticket creation happened immediately, so we always had a case number to reference and never felt lost in the shuffle. Not surprisingly, the Stitch Labs support team is highly praised all over the web.

Stitch integrates with a large number of other programs and applications, including Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, and Square, to name just a few. And when you combine an excellent selection of integrations with powerful suite of tools,you’ve got inventory management software that is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses.

You can read more about Stitch Labs in our full review.

Runner-Up: TradeGecko

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TradeGecko, a cloud-based inventory application for small to medium sized businesses, is comparable to Stitch Labs in functionality and number of integrations, but is more geared toward international companies (it still works well for American companies, if you don’t mind a time difference with the support staff).

The design of this software emphasizes collaboration, group workflows, and activity feeds. This means that you can reference sales information, purchase orders, and stock levels at once, and they will all update in real time. TradeGecko is intuitive and easy to use, and has a clean – if spartan – UI which is perfect for a bookkeeping system.

TradeGecko offers a free 14-day trial, no credit card required. Plans range from $49/month to $399/month, though you can get a monthly discount if you commit to paying for a year up-front. The company provides a detailed knowledge base, with step-by-step instructions for performing many tasks, and it also offers 24 hour customer support. On the whole, our support experience was positive, though a few of our tickets took longer than we would have liked to resolve.

Integrations include Shopify, Salesforce, Xero, Magento, Quickbooks Online, Amazon, and WooCommerce (to name a few). All in all, TradeGecko isn’t the cheapest product on the market (which is why it’s the runner up for this category) but it is so intuitive and feature rich that small to medium-sized businesses with a budget to kick around should give it a look.

For more information about TradeGecko, read our full review here.

Invoicing Software

Winner: Freshbooks

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Officially, Freshbooks is a web-based accounting solution, though it is fair to say that it’s best utilized for its incredible invoicing features. This software is tailor made for independent contractors and small, service-based businesses; it is easy to use, has lots of interesting features (including time tracking, reporting, and expenses), and integrates with a huge variety of 3rd party applications.

Pricing, unfortunately, is a bit steep for the target market (small businesses), though there is a free plan which allows you to manage a single client. Paid plan range from $19.95/month to $39.95/month. Customer support is available Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm EST. In our experience, representatives are remarkably quick to respond to emails (usually within 20 minutes during business hours) and are courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable.

As mentioned above, FreshBooks offers more than 60 integrations and add-ons including  PayPal, Shopify, Basecamp, and Stripe. It is as comprehensive an invoicing solution as you could hope for, especially since it does offer other perks, like reporting.

You can read our full review of FreshBooks here.

Runner-Up: Invoiceable

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Invoiceable is simple, easy to use software that allows you to create professional looking invoices. It’s actually free to all, with no feature limits, though you can opt to pay a one-time fee to remove the company’s branding from your invoices: this is a perk that no other free invoicing program offers. Additionally, unlike many of the other major free invoicing programs, Invoiceable isn’t just a wimpy, scaled-back version of a paid service. You can have as many clients and send as many invoices as you like.

Of course, with a completely free service you’re going to miss certain features that come with a paid subscription. Support, for example, is unreliable and sporadic. Response times can vary between 1-12 days, and sometimes you may not get any response at all. There is also limited sales tax functionality, which means that the software really only works for businesses that charge a single, across the board tax rate, or don’t charge tax at all.

That said, if you are a freelancer or own a very small business with relatively low sales volume, this may be all you need for now. It’s leaps and bounds better than simply typing out your invoices into MS Word or Excel, and it is one of the best free options out there that both allow you to have unlimited clients and actually works in the United States! The interface is basic and intuitive, and while customer service is slow, you probably won’t need it most of the time. If this sounds like a good match for you, we suggest you try it out. You’ve got nothing to lose – after all, it’s free.

Read our full review of Invoiceable here.

CRM Software

Winner: Zoho CRM

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User-friendly, reasonably-priced, and full of useful features, Zoho CRM is our favorite customer relations management software, hands down. It’s not hard to see why we’re such big fans. The “building blocks” which make up the Zoho CRM logo are not there for design purposes alone; these blocks allude to the fact that the Zoho team has developed many other business applications, all capable of working together seamlessly (much like Google Apps). In addition, Zoho has an well-deserved reputation for integrating nicely with a number of 3rd party add-ons, including MailChimp, Unbounce, Google Apps, MS Office, and Quickbooks (see a full list of add-ons and integrations here). In short, Zoho CRM software can adjust to any size business, be whatever you need it to be, and grow with you as your business expands.

You can try Zoho CRM for free with a 15-day trial of their Professional package. After that, pricing breaks down as follows:

  • Entrepreneur: Free, up to 3 users
  • Standard: $12/user/month
  • Professional: $20/user/month
  • Enterprise: $35/user/month

24-hour Mon-Fri telephone support is available to paying customers, though those using their free edition are limited to email support. However, your email questions can be flagged according to urgency, so that important queries do not fall to the wayside.

You would be hard pressed to find a CRM that provides more functionality at a lower cost. Zoho CRM is, without a doubt, the most bang for your buck.

Read our full review of Zoho CRM here.

Runner-Up: CleverTim

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Clevertim is a cloud-based CRM system with a firm mission: to cater specifically to small businesses. With a surprisingly reasonable price point, a clean, user-friendly UI, and the ability to integrate with 3rd party developers (via an open API), Clevertim may just be as clever as its name suggests. The only chink in Clevertim’s armor is the lack of a mobile app. As it is now, the app functions smoothly on a desktop, but is only so-so on a tablet and virtually nonexistent on a phone.

Clevertim offers a 30 day free trial. After that, plans range from absolutely free to $99/month. You can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your subscription at any time. Unlike most other CRM systems, Clevertim does not charge on a per-user basis. Instead, each plan has a user limit. There is also  customized pricing available, which allows you to upgrade the number of users allowed in your plan.

Clevertim is relatively new and does not yet have its own dedicated Technical Support team. However, queries can be sent to the company either via web tickets or through the sales email address.

Read our review of Clevertim here.

Booking Software

Winner: BookingBug

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BookingBug can do just about anything you would expect from scheduling software, but still manages to be accessible and intuitive. Many companies claim to be versatile, but this software actually is designed for a wide variety of industries, making it one of the only options out there for B&Bs or bike rental shops, and a better option than most for medium-sized spas and salons. It is a perfect tool for businesses that want to offer combination services while managing limited resources and limited staff (see a full list of features here). It is distinct from other appointment booking software other ways as well: first, it’s designed for serious scalability – which again validates its claim to be “the only real-time distributed booking and reservation system that works for all business types” –  and second, it integrates with a vast number of 3rd-party apps all over the world. This is a company that prides itself on innovation and flexibility.

Plans run from $19.95/month to $69.95/month, or you can scale up to an Enterprise plan, which are priced on an individual basis. Customer service comes free with your account. Like most companies, BookingBug relies heavily on email support, but phone support is available for some of the more expensive plans. We received helpful responses to our email inquiries within hours – always a great sign.

One terrific thing about BookingBug is that it offers your customers the option to make online payments (full or partial, including pre-payment and bulk payments); you can also issue full or partial refunds directly through the site via one of the software’s numerous payment integrations. BookingBug integrates with programs like MailChimp, WordPress, Facebook, and Dropbox as well.

There isn’t much negative feedback about the company online or in user reviews. Granted, some people have complained about issues with their mobile apps, but BookingBug’s receptivity and responsiveness to these issues speaks well about the company’s commitment to customer service.

To read our full review of BookingBug, click here.

Runner Up: Bookeo

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Bookeo is cloud-based booking software with a lot to offer. Not only does it include important booking features, but it provides a surprising variety of marketing solutions, integrates with many payment platforms and third party applications, and boasts excellent security features. This is innovative software as it is, and Bookeo continues to improve with age; significant new feature releases occur every few months, and updates are frequent. The only consistent complaint disappointed reviewers have is with its lack of phone support. (Bookeo relies on email and a store of 300 tutorials for its customer support.)

Bookeo’s pricing differs by product (in other words, by whether you want to book appointments, classes, or tours), but each version offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee on the first paid month of subscription. Bookeo accounts do not require set-up or processing fees and you don’t have to sign a contract – always a good sign.

One of the best things about Bookeo is that it is user-friendly. Action items and information are intuitive and clearly distinguishable, and the software in general is organized neatly, in a very manageable way. There isn’t much setup support, unfortunately, but the self-help tutorials available are precise, and sufficient enough to help you circumvent most major problems.

Customer service centers on the Bookeo Help Portal, which consists of 300 tutorials and an email support form. There is no phone support, however, and this is the only consistent complaint from disappointed reviewers. You can receive some support via a live chat option on Bookeo’s promotional website.

Read more about Bookeo here, in our full review.

Email Marketing Software

Winner: MailChimp

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At Merchant Maverick, we’re all in agreement that MailChimp is the boss when it comes to email marketing. It’s a mature, time-tested software with reasonable pricing plans, a great selection of features, and tons of integration, and it scales well to just about any size campaign. Better yet, for users with modest needs, MailChimp offers a robust, flat-out generous free plan which lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers and allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month. There’s only one real catch: if you do your email marketing with the free plan, there will be a small MailChimp badge at the bottom of every email you send out. 

Paid plans come in two basic varieties: send-based (pay as you go) and list-based (monthly). These plans are fairly specific and complex, so if you’d like more details about pricing you should navigate here.

MailChimp is generally very easy to use, and signing up for a MailChimp account is simple; enter a name and email address and you’re on your way. The customer support system is pretty extensive as well, though it lacks telephone support, which is slightly disappointing. However, our experience with them has been good; representatives were courteous and well-informed, and inquiries were answered in anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 hours, depending on urgency. MailChimp’s biggest selling point, however, is that it offers over 500 integrations and add-ons. (These include Google Analytics, Zendesk, SHopify, Magento, and Salesforce).

Check out our full review of MailChimp here.

Runner-Up: AWeber

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AWeber appeals to a smaller niche than MailChimp, but it’s still incredibly easy to use and quite affordable. It comes with some very nice features, especially for businesses which want to send all new subscribers the same series of messages: the autoresponder setup in particular is easy, intuitive, and well explained within the program, and users have a lot of options. 

AWeber offers a free 30-day trial for lists of up to 500 subscribers. After that first month, there is a single list-based pricing plan available. It’s reasonably priced for the most part, but so robust that very small companies may find they are paying for lots of extra features they may not even require. If you don’t need much from your email marketing tool, you might be better off with MailChimp’s generous free plan.

In general, AWeber finds a healthy balance between ease of use and high functionality. Navigation is remarkably intuitive, considering the number of features available. The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor has some quite impressive characteristics, and recent updates to the software have have managed to significantly improve the email design experience. Additionally, the analytics and reporting capabilities are well above par for an email marketing tool of this type, as are AWeber’s investment in numerous 3rd-party integrations.

Our experiences with customer support have been positive overall. As a rule, we’ve found AWeber’s representatives to be friendly, helpful, and prompt in responding to queries. Response times to our inquiries varied in time between 20 minutes and 6 business hours.

Read our full review of AWeber here.

Project Management Software

Winner: Trello

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Trello is a visually-oriented, Kanban-based project management tool that works by allowing users to see and manage their tasks and projects via detailed ‘cards’ which are then pinned onto ‘boards.’ At its most basic level, Trello is an ingenious way to create and organize a set of virtual 3×5 cards without the risk of misplacing them, but it also can also work as a simple task management tool, offering features like file storage and automatic email notifications.

The standard, free version of Trello allows for unlimited boards, users, and attachments (with a 10 MB max per file upload). However, for a fee, Trello also offers two upgraded versions of the software: $3.75/user or $5/user

Trello’s simple, visually-appealing UI makes it incredibly easy to use; there is almost no learning curve involved. A mere five minutes after I signed up I was able to navigate the software quickly, creating cards and boards like a pro. It may be integrated with several 3rd party apps, including Zapier, Google Drive, Box. Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Trello provides email support (via support@trello.com) to all users during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST).

Not only is this software reasonably priced, but it is characterized by elegance, simplicity, and user-friendliness. It would be difficult to find a basic project management solution with a more intuitive, visually-appealing design. And in terms of sheer adoptability – of getting your employees to actually use a software-based task management tool – Trello scores extremely high.

You can check out our full review of Trello if you’d like more information.

Runner Up: Basecamp

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With over 9,000,000 current users, Basecamp is considered the most popular cloud-based project management software system of all time. It is, without doubt, one of the most user-friendly project management programs out there. When it comes down to brass tacks, simplicity is an enormously valuable characteristic, and Basecamp is just that – simple. This is project management software at its most basic and effortless level.

This software is celebrated for its no-frills, no-fuss pricing system. There are no hidden fees and no per-user costs. Plans range from $20/month to $150/month. Features include task tracking, a calendar, email notifications and a daily recap of activities, text documents (basically giant legal pads), and very simple reporting.

Basecamp is known for fast, reliable service. While they don’t provide the level of immediate personal support that you can get from other software companies (read: no phone or live chat support), the folks at Basecamp respond quickly to email requests and offer a large variety of ready-made aids and live training tools.

Basecamp itself is a pretty basic program, but there are a huge number of optional 3rd party applications available if you want or need to increase software’s functionality. You can see a complete list of Basecamp integrations on the official product website

If you have plain, bread-and-butter management requirements, we think you’ll find that Basecamp is a suitable, extremely affordable way to go. One of the best things about Basecamp is the fact that it is designed, updated, and supported by an established parent company. It is a sure bet, in other words.

Read more about Basecamp in our full review.

Shipping Software

Winner: ShipStation

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ShipStation is a reasonably-priced, web-based shipping solution for eCommerce retailers. Designed to streamline the fulfillment process as much as possible, this software has invested in a huge number of integrations that make it possible for you to sync up your business with the most popular sales channels, shopping carts, payment gateways, and mail carriers.

Pricing plans range from $25/month to $145/month. There’s a free 30-day trial that includes access to all features, with no credit card required. If you’re not satisfied with the product within 90 days, ShipStation offers a full refund, no questions asked.

The user interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, as there multiple options, menus, and sub-menus displayed on most pages. A bit of patience is definitely required when you start out, though you can take advantage of a number of video tutorials, a large knowledge base, and a pretty robust community forum if you run into trouble. Actually, you can have your own personal account manager if you want, and this person will help guide you through the setup phase of your account. Some of the higher paid plans can receive chat support as well. In general, customer support is slightly disappointing, and the responses we received to queries were somewhat boilerplate and indifferent.

One of ShipStation’s biggest selling points is that it integrates with an enormous number of carriers, marketplaces and shopping carts, especially when compared to the competition, including FedEx, UPS, USPS, and Fulfillment by Amazon, as well as Shopify, Etsy, Magento, Square, eBay, etc. The list goes on.

Check out our full review of ShipStation for more information.

Runner-Up: ShipWorks

shipworks-logo

ShipWorks is probably the best shipping software available, though unfortunately it’s a PC-only app (which removes about half of the world’s users) and the learning curve is extremely high. The good news is that this software, which is designed to streamline the order fulfillment process for small to large businesses, has many amazing features you can’t find in other shipping applications. With a few clicks, ShipWorks can download shipping information from an online sales channel, calculate and print postage, generate labels, packing slips, and more. Combine this functionality with integrations for over 40 different mail carriers and eCommerce platforms, and you’ve got a shipping solution that really packs a wallop. Additionally, ShipWorks scales well, in a way that its SaaS competitors don’t.

Cost per month is determined by two different factors: shipment volume and number of licenses. Shipment volume is divided into three tiers:

  • $14.95/month for 0-99 shipments/month
  • $29.95/month for 100-999 shipments/month
  • $49.95/month for 1,000+ shipments/month

The price for shipment volume is then added to your licensing fee to determine the monthly bill. How much you pay for licensing is based on the number of online sales channels you use with ShipWorks.

Our own experiences with ShipWorks support have been positive. Turnaround times on support tickets were 24 hours or less, and we never had trouble reaching anybody on the phone. The Knowledge Base is extensive, and covers everything from setup and configuration to online marketplaces and shipping providers. What’s more, the articles are clearly written and provide plenty of screenshots.

As I mentioned above, ShipWorks integrates with a huge variety of shipping carriers and online marketplaces (including USPS, FedEx, UPS, Magento, Etsy, Shopify, Volusion), but if you happen to use a store that isn’t directly supported by ShipWorks, you can always work with a developer and use the ShipWorks Generic API to create your own integrations.

Click here to read our full review of ShipWorks.

Loyalty Rewards Software

Winner: Sweet Tooth

sweet-tooth-rewards-logo

Sweet Tooth is a prolific loyalty rewards software that currently works with over 3500 merchants worldwide, including Delta, Universal, and Olympus. Sweet Tooth is dedicated to increasing customer engagement, and case studies from many of the clients mentioned above have demonstrated nearly 20% increases in customer lifetime values, sales and repeat purchases. It is complex software with a high learning curve, but in general, the benefits of using a robust loyalty rewards software outweigh the inconvenience of having to learn how to use it! Sweet Tooth is an ideal solution for both eCommerce merchants and merchants who use combined methods of commerce.

Sweet Tooth works best – and is most full featured – when it’s used through Magento, though you can use a lighter, simpler version of Sweet Tooth on BigCommerce or Shopify (this is free for up to 500 customers). Sweet Tooth subscription plans are offered monthly and automatically renew unless cancelled. Plans begin at $49/month, and are broken down by loyalty point transactions and annual revenue generated on Magento. If your activity exceeds the limitations of your plan you will be required to upgrade to the next available plan. You can view the full pricing details for Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento on the Sweet Tooth website.

Customer service is available Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm EST. Overall, our experience with Sweet Tooth has been positive. Everyone we’ve spoken to at the company has been knowledgeable and friendly, and most reviewers on Magento cite the technical support as an essential part of their loyalty program.

Read our full review of Sweet Tooth if you’re interested in learning more.

Runner-Up: Belly

belly-logo

Belly provides a more hassle-free loyalty rewards program than Sweet Tooth, and is ideal for smaller businesses with brick and mortar store fronts (such as bakeries, cafes, grocers, bars, spas, fitness clubs and boutiques). What’s really unique about Belly, though, are its customizeable rewards offerings and “all in one box” setup, which includes an iPad (with stand and combination lock), data reports, a personal support representative, social media integrations, and email marketing tools. Even more significantly, Belly customers get a mobile page for their business on the Belly app, where potential customers can look to find Belly-compatible businesses.

Monthly subscription costs range from $99 – $199, and all contracts run for 12 months. The cost of the iPad, iPad stand, application software, and unlimited rewards cards are included in the subscription costs for the highest plan, but an additional $150 installation fee is charged for lower plans.

Right now there are only a few drawbacks to Belly, most important of which is its steep price. Customer service can be a bit spotty as well, and unfortunately, not enough other businesses currently use it, which doesn’t provide much incentive to customers to get in the Belly network. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an easy, no-worries loyalty program, you can’t go far wrong with Belly.

Read our full review of Belly for more details and information.

Website Building Software

Winner: Wix

 

wix

Wix is our number one choice for web building software, and it’s not difficult to understand why. With its sleek editing interface and multiple selection of apps and integrations, it is an extremely effective do-it-yourself website designer. In addition to being easy to use, Wix provides a great selection of unique and visually appealing templates (there are hundreds to choose from).

The free version of Wix is provided to anyone who signs up, though any website you create under the free plan will be branded with the Wix logo. Paid plans range from $4.08/month to $24.90/month. Wix’s store offers payment processing through a handful of vendors, including PayPal, WebMoney, Skrill, and PayU.

All in all, Wix is intuitive and user-friendly. Within a few hours, you should be able to take a template, mess around for a bit with the editing tools, and build yourself an incredibly fine looking website.

Because Wix allows developers to create and share their own add-ons, other users are given the opportunity to expand and diversify their websites as well. Some of the most popular integrations available include online shop expansions (like the Etsy app), the Wix Hotels premium booking system, live Instagram feeds, website profile systems, and a variety of other site boosting applications

There is one downside to the software: unlike most other website-building services, Wix does not offer 24/7 live-chat or provide an email response system. There is a toll-free number you can call for help with technical issues, but be aware that you could possibly be put on hold for an unspecified amount of time.

Click here to read our full review of Wix.

Runner-Up: Jimdo

Jimdo-Logo

With its reasonable price points and clever, yet simplistic editor, Jimdo has made a mark on the website building industry. Managing to be both straightforward and comprehensive, Jimdo allows users to make custom, professional looking websites. Templates are provided, of course, but you’re not bound to the confines of the template you choose; you have total freedom to edit and can essentially be as hands-on about the design process as you want.

Jimdo plans range from free to $20/month, and all plans come with an HTML5 WYSIWYG web editor, usage of professional-grade templates, social media tools, a mobile device editing view, blogging tools, photo galleries, Google Maps, contact forms, direct video embedding, widget integration, optimized mobile websites, and unlimited bandwidth.

While the only online payment processor currently supported by Jimdo is PayPal, a selection of various real-world payment methods can be activated in a website’s store, including invoicing, payment-in-advance, collection-upon-delivery, local pickup, and local delivery.

This is an easy-to-use service that somehow still manages to astound with the depth of its overall functionality. Some things may be a bit too simple, and Jimdo isn’t sophisticated enough to work as a tool for a professional web designer, but it is perfectly suited – price-wise and in ease-of-use – for small businesses who would otherwise have to hire out their web design services.

Read our full review of Jimdo here.

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Is Square Suitable For Your Company?

Square for business

In line with the large number of messages I’ve received, In my opinion you will find four stages business proprietors undergo when thinking about Square’s payment processing. First, pleasure. It is really an amazing service which includes a sleek and capable POS, online selling tools, affordable hardware, and a simple-as-cake application. Once they uncover the presence of Square and discover what it really can perform, those who have spent days stressing out about negotiating charge card processing rates and selecting in the unlimited quantity of tablet-based POS systems breathe a sigh of relief.

But next come dread. After poking round the Square site and sufficiently fantasizing in regards to a lengthy, prosperous future using the service, the company owner decides to see some reviews, possibly on our website. At this time, the company owner is faced with countless devastated and infuriated fellow business proprietors, all crying SCAM!, cursing Square’s name, and pleading for somebody, anybody, to assist them to obtain money-back in the evil clutches of this pernicious polygon.

When pleasure and dread meet, the 3rd stage &#8211 confusion &#8211 comes into the world. The business proprietor has simply no idea how to proceed. Square appears so distinctively perfect and the like an excellent value, but could it be worth it? Is Square really stealing money from unsuspecting business proprietors? Can the organization be reliable?

Which results in the inevitable question I’ve received an uncountable quantity of occasions: “Is Square suitable for my company?”

Well, frankly, I’m growing fed up with answering this specific question. Let’s place it to relax for good so everybody can arrive at the coveted, much searched for-after 4th stage from the &#8220Square for business&#8221 consideration process &#8211 acceptance. Acceptance either this services are not likely to be a saving elegance in the end, or acceptance the risks, overall, are outweighed through the rewards.

It&#8217s dependent on account stability

The primary complaints you’ll find from companies that use Square are issues involving reserved funds, account suspensions, and account terminations, which increase the risk for same outcome: withheld money. Sometimes it’s only one transaction that’s withheld other occasions it’s all of the funds waiting to obvious, plus much more funds obtained from a linked banking account to pay for older transactions. Reserves, suspensions, and terminations are account stability issues. A reliable account enables you to definitely process payments and access funds predictably and without worry. An unsound account doesn’t. Regrettably, for a lot of companies Square’s accounts prove unstable.

The number of users have issues? Well the Square profile in the Bbb presently shows over 1,100 formal complaints in the last 3 years alone, and there’s no manifestation of time shrinking in the near future. Most these disputes &#8211 and we’ve find out more of these than anybody should &#8211 come from business proprietors complaining about account stability issues. Obviously, we must recognize that 1,100 users is really a few considering that Square has thousands and thousands of users (the precise number isn’t publically available information), however its not all user who encounters issues would go to the BBB, and never every active user processes regularly.

We’re left guessing regarding the number of overall users who really experience these account stability issues, but the truth is its not all business comes with an equal risk. Some companies have a superior chance of suspension and termination, while some possess a relatively safe. We’re not asking if Square suits anyone’s business, because surely it can be useful for many. We’re asking if it’s suitable for your business. To be able to figure that out, we have to realise why these stability issues show up to begin with.

How come Square suspend or terminate accounts and withhold funds?

You’ll discover the following clause in Square’s Seller Agreement:

We might terminate this Agreement or suspend or close your Square Account unconditionally or pointless anytime upon notice for you.

Which means that Square, legally, doesn’t owe you anything. It may shut you lower without giving whatever reason whatsoever. But, despite what some complainants might assert, Square doesn’t decide to shut lower accounts by tossing darts in a wall covered in user’s names. It will so, based on its Seller Agreement, for 1 of 3 reasons:

  1. You violate the relation to Square’s Seller Agreement, or any one of Square’s other policies or contracts one enters into
  2. You pose an unacceptable credit or fraud risk
  3. You provide any false, incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading information or else participate in fraudulent or illegal conduct

The result is that to avoid account instability a person should do the next three things:

  • Read and comprehend the contracts one enters into with Square. They’re wordy and also have some confusing legalese, but when you’re seriously interested in keeping a reliable Square account I would suggest that you simply browse the Seller Agreement carefully.
  • Provide Square with accurate, honest, complete details about your company throughout the signup process and beyond, while abstaining from the fraudulent or criminal activity (duh). It may be tough for brand new business proprietor to supply accurate information because oftentimes they aren’t sure regarding their needs or how their companies will build up. Do your very best and then try to remain consistent.
  • Make certain that you don’t pose high credit or fraud risk for Square.

This last point is an essential and many confusing component of making certain account stability, since most business proprietors &#8211 especially brand new ones &#8211 don’t know very well what business attributes impact their risk profiles.

What factors dictate your risk profile?

Listed here are the most crucial things to consider when figuring out the risk you pose to some payment processor:

1. Business type: Different business types pose superiority of monetary risk for any payment processing company because of varied probability of fraud, customer disputes, or legalities. In most cases, high-risk companies will have to join a processor that are experts in establishing these difficult accounts (like Durango A Merchant Account or Payline Data, to mention a few). Square outlines a summary of prohibited high-risk companies in the Seller Agreement, but there are more dangerous business types not clearly outlined there which are vulnerable to account suspensions or terminations. For those who have a higher-risk business (or perhaps a moderate-risk business), Square isn’t the best choice. Yes, you’ll need to pay more elsewhere, but it’ll be worth the investment over time. A few examples of high-risk companies include: gun and ammunition dealers, tobacco and vaporizer supply stores pharmaceutical sales, and anything associated with gambling or financial services. For any more complete list, look at this article. 

2. Chronilogical age of business: For those who have a longstanding, well-established business with loyal customers along with a extended processing history, you pose less risk to Square than the usual business that’s completely new without any processing history or business records. The probability of a company having a decade of processing background and general good standing all of a sudden becoming involved with serious financial fraud is a lot under what business that simply materialized when completing the Square application. Obviously, getting an experienced business doesn’t cause you to safe from these problems, and as being a startup doesn’t instantly curse you, however if you simply can establish a minimum of a couple of several weeks to some year of monetary documents to placate Square if trouble arises, you’ll considerably increase your odds of a great outcome. Again, even though the signup process is much more in-depth, individuals individuals who’ve a brand new business and cost uninterrupted income may want to consider just trying to get a conventional credit card merchant account.

3. Transaction size: Here’s an issue: could it be riskier to process one 1000 $1 transactions, or perhaps a single $1,000 transaction? The reply is the only $1,000, with a lengthy shot. It is because, in almost any industry, it’s far more prone to see one fraudulent high-ticket transaction than a lot of fraudulent small ticket transactions. What’s more, Square would view it as even riskier should you usually process only $1 transactions, after which all of a sudden eventually you process an arbitrary $1,000 transaction. Square’s risk assessment algorithms want to see consistency, most importantly things. If you are processing transactions of $100 or greater regularly, make certain you precisely describe your processing habits within the application and do not process abnormally large transactions from nowhere.

For top-ticket companies, a free account will probably be the greater reliable option when you are getting a free account, you possess an decided high-ticket limit. If you want to process a transaction greater than to limit, you are able to call the processor in advance to obtain approval. With Square, however, no individual limits are disclosed &#8211 and regrettably, this doesn’t mean the boundaries don’t exist. Square does condition in the customer care portal that every account technically includes a $50,000 transaction limit upon registering, but I’m understandably skeptical. Try managing a $50K transaction through Square as the first purchase and tell us the way it goes&#8230

4. Processing volume: Much like transaction size, more is riskier when it comes to processing volume. Not to mention this risk is compounded if you have a higher amount of large tickets. Again, no processing limits are disclosed for the individual Square account, but you can be certain Square’s software programs are keeping an eye on you to definitely make certain no unusual spikes suggestive of fraud appear. As lengthy while you precisely describe your processing needs in your application and don’t deviate in the norm, you ought to be fine. Sadly, Square doesn’t have simple protocol for growing limits (since limits are just vaguely disclosed at the best). If you want to process an abnormally great amount 30 days, you risk triggering a warning sign and, if you’re unlucky, a free account suspension pending analysis. This really is one good reason we like Flint for mobile processing. Flint not just discloses your specific, individual processing limits &#8211 additionally, it enables you to try to get limit increases if necessary.

5. Transaction type: Square enables users to process payments by swiping, nick studying, contactless NFC, manual entry, or online customer entry. Probably the most secure of those are nick studying and contactless NFC, that are both EMV-compliant payment methods. Swiping is rather secure, although not as safe as nick or NFC. Manual entry an internet-based sales would be the least secure, and then the most dangerous. The greater by hand joined or internet sales you’ve, the higher your chance of getting chargebacks, account suspensions, and sudden account terminations. While Square has tools for internet sales, phone orders, and e-invoices, the woking platform is most effective when much of your sales occur using the customer present. In case your business mostly are operating in a card-not-present atmosphere, you might like to think about a provider that’s more prepared to accommodate the danger involved. 

6. Chargebacks: Most chargebacks occur because of a customers disputing electric power charge using their charge card companies. A buyer can dispute electric power charge unconditionally, but many generally disputes occur just because a customer doesn’t believe she or he approved the charge, or doesn’t believe that the service or product was delivered as described and may not resolve the problem using the business directly. Due to this, Square views chargebacks as potential indicators of fraud, and therefore also potential indications of risk and expense. Receiving any chargebacks right after opening a Square account might trigger a free account suspension or prompt Square to freeze of all of the funds inside your account. A lot of chargebacks are basically a dying sentence for the account.

This doesn’t imply that every chargeback will finish in misery for you personally, however. Actually, Square offers “chargeback protection,” which entitles you to definitely $250 of chargeback coverage every month as lengthy while you adopted Square’s guidelines for payment acceptance.

What’s most frustrating to a lot of, though, is Square’s practice of withholding transactions it believes simply might create a chargeback:

When we reasonably think that a Chargeback is probably regarding any transaction, we might withhold the quantity of the possibility Chargeback from payments otherwise because of you under this Agreement until such time that: (a) a Chargeback is assessed as a result of Buyer’s complaint, by which situation we’ll support the funds (b) the time period under relevant law or regulation through which the customer may dispute the transaction has expired or (c) we determine that the Chargeback around the transaction won’t occur.

With respect to the official reason the dispute is filed, the customer has 60, 90, or 4 months to boost the dispute &#8211  or as much as 180 within the situation of worldwide transactions. This means that if Square “reasonably believes” that the funds inside your account might be billed back, it reserves the authority to contain the funds for 3 months or even more without violating any agreement terms. Whether a chargeback will really occur does not matter. So even though you didn’t do anything wrong, funds can nonetheless be withheld. If your chargeback really does occur, you are able to expect to a different 3 months of awaiting the dispute to become resolved. 

Is that this how it operates for those payment processors?

To some degree reserves, frozen accounts, and terminations are simply risks that include the territory of accepting card payments. They are able to happen regardless of what company you process with, regardless of whether you&#8217re utilizing a traditional credit card merchant account or perhaps a third-party mobile processor like Square.

Whenever you open a free account, there’s an in-depth application and underwriting (business assessment) procedure that helps make the account a lot more secure for you personally. Square keeps costs lower and register accelerate by only getting a pc process the application material initially. It&#8217s not until afterwards that the human reviews your company information, contacts you for further business documents if required, and determines whether Square really wants to continue to help you out. By now you might curently have recognized 1000s of dollars in payments, which could end up frozen for several weeks should you&#8217re unlucky within the account review process.

With Square, acceptance of the application doesn&#8217t mean a great deal. With a free account, however, application acceptance implies that the processor required a careful review your business and loved what it really saw. Which means that your bank account is a lot more prone to remain stable. New companies might be enforced having a moving reserve &#8211 in which you receive payments on the delay &#8211 but a minimum of you’ll know this in the start rather of getting your bank account frozen from nowhere a couple of several weeks in.

I’m not going to let you know that there’s any provider who can cause you to safe from getting funds locked in reserve, or perhaps to suspension and terminations, however, you greatly improve your odds of a getting a lengthy-term, stable account whenever you open a conventional credit card merchant account.

You&#8217re just a little dangerous, now what?

There’s no solid rule to find out whenever your risk profile becomes untenable for Square. You exist on the risk spectrum, as well as your position may change with time. My recommendation is that this: for those who have a couple of attributes that improve your risk level, consider other available choices. For those who have 3 or 4 greater risk attributes, use Square at the own risk. In case your business falls within high-risk business category, don’t use Square under any conditions. Your use likely violates Square’s Seller Agreement, and it’ll be only a matter of time prior to running into trouble. Again, including gun and ammunition dealers, tobacco and vaporizer supply stores pharmaceutical sales, anything associated with gambling or financial services, and a number of other business groups. You will possibly not know your company is high-risk, however that ignorance won’t safeguard your company when Square is holding 1000s of dollars of your stuff despite you’ve shipped the goods. Don’t risk it.

However, should you run a recognised, low-risk, in-person business, accept payments using a nick card or NFC readers, have small average transactions along with a moderate weekly product sales with little possibility of chargebacks, in all probability Square is a stable choice for your company. You need to consider other available choices to make certain that it’s the very best service for your requirements, but certainly keep Square up for grabs. For many companies, it truly is an incredible value.

Exploring other options

We’ve checked out every major mobile processing service available, and our all-around favorite is Flint Mobile. It provides reliable service along with a feature-wealthy application. No, it’s not really a perfect Square substitute. It doesn’t possess the features required to operate a food service business, for example, also it doesn’t offer anywhere near the amount of add-on services that Square does. However for nine from ten small companies seeking a mobile solution, it really works all right. There’s no fee every month, and since it utilizes your smartphone or tablet’s camera to scan cards, you don’t need to buy any new hardware for doing things. I additionally like this it offers a minimal debit rate of just one.95%, making an impact thinking about 1 / 2 of all card transactions are debit for many companies.

If you want greater than Flint provides, it’s time to check out merchant services. Don’t worry! The operation is less complicated, costly, or intimidating because it appears. Should you join our high-rated providers, you’re guaranteed a good rate with no settlement necessary. If you wish to look elsewhere, just review our simple help guide to negotiating the very best contract possible. Likewise, you’ll find all the details you’d ever need to know about charge card charges within an easily digestible package here. For a lot of companies, even low volume ones, opening a free account will definitely cost just like Square would. For greater volume companies, a free account will often be much less costly plus much more reliable.

Most merchant services include fundamental mobile processing abilities along with a virtual terminal. Incidents where incorporate a POS or shopping cart software free of charge. But possibly the good thing of opening a free account is it will open countless POS and shopping cart software options that you should select from. Yes, a free account and separate POS many be more costly than Square (since Square is freed from monthly charges for the POS and payment processing), but you’ll gain lots of power, efficiency, and control along the way. Within the finish, the additional value is commonly worth the money.

The conclusion about Square for business

Whether you decide to accept the potential risks that include Square and try it out, or believe that Square isn’t a wise decision for the business in the end, you can examine out other POS systems and payment processing companies to create some comparisons. We can assist you to explore your choices and discover the very best providers.

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Everything You Need to Know About Alternative Payment Methods

Alternative Payment MethodsBeing able to accept credit and debit cards is the lifeblood of any business. For brick-and-mortar locations, it’s worth knowing this: About half of all Americans carry just $20 in cash with them on a daily basis, and about 80% of Americans carry less than $50 daily. This means if you don’t accept credit cards, you could be missing out on sales.

If you sell online, you have to have a way to accept credit and debit cards, period. And it’s crucial that you have a professional system that shoppers will trust with their payment details. For most people that means a merchant account with an established payment gateway.

But are cards and cash — and all the traditional ways of doing business — the only options?

Of course not. There’s no shortage of companies devoted to changing the way we think about paying for things. New technology is bringing concepts like using phones to make payments into the mainstream. Having multiple ways for customers to pay is a good thing, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of convenience to you — or higher fees!

Let’s take a look at some alternative payment methods that you can integrate into your business now, what it’ll take to do so, how secure they are, and how popular they are.

1. Apple Pay

apple-pay-logoApple Pay was not the first company to offer contactless mobile payments, but it was the first to make them popular. Apple Pay uses NFC (learn more about this technology here) and the TouchID fingerprint reader to enable contactless in-store payments, as well as in-app purchases. With iOS 9, it also supports loyalty cards and rewards programs.

Compatible devices:

  • iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and later models
  • Apple Watch (with iPhone 5 and later models)
  • iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3

Apple claims to support credit and debit cards from most major banks in the U.S. and the U.K. (A press release from Apple says that with support for Discover added this fall, the app supports 98% of credit card purchase volume.) That’s good news. The launch of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is also good, because it means consumers with older iPhones will likely start upgrading their older devices, expanding the potential user base.

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t actually publish usage statistics. A survey done in June 2015 found that 13 percent of users with an Apple Pay-capable phone had used the feature; another 11 percent had plans to do so. We know that Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the first quarter of its 2015 fiscal year (the first quarter Apple Pay was available) — but not all of those were necessarily the 6 or 6 Plus. Still, it’s safe to say there are likely several million Apple Pay users across the country, even if some studies suggest that Apple Pay adoption rates are decreasing.

You’re still going to have to have a way to process credit cards to accept Apple Pay, so you’ll need a merchant account, a functioning POS, and an NFC-enabled terminal. The good news is Apple doesn’t charge any fees for Apple Pay transactions, so you only pay the standard credit and debit card processing fees.

Mobile payments like this have several measures for security. First, merchants never actually handle buyers’ credit card numbers. Instead, Apple Pay generates a single-use code (this is called tokenization). Even if a hacker gets the information, it’s useless because the number is good for one time only. Second, when consumers tap their phones to the terminal, they have to confirm the purchase with the TouchID fingerprint sensor.

Finally, the phone itself provides some security. The card numbers aren’t stored on the device — they’re kept in the cloud and the device can be locked remotely if it’s ever stolen. The CPU never handles the processing of the NFC transaction, either. A secure element or a separate chip bypass the rest of the system to communicate directly with the NFC-capable unit.

2. Samsung Pay

samsung-pay-logo-2015Samsung Pay is (you guessed it!) the Korean company’s response to Apply Pay. It is also an NFC-powered contactless payments app. It works on a handful of Samsung Galaxy devices:

  • Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, and later models.
  • Galaxy Note 5 and later models.

Samsung Pay just launched in September of 2015, which means it’s quite new. We’ll update you with usage numbers when we have something reliable and representative to report. But we do know that Samsung had sold an estimated 45 million Galaxy S6 phones (including the Edge and Edge+ variants), plus the Note 5 (for which sales numbers aren’t available right now). The potential user base is very large, but we’ll see how it pans out.

At this point it’s worth noting that the app requires consumers to be on one of five networks (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or U.S. Cellular) and have a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express card issued by Bank of America, U.S. Bank, or Citi. The app also accepts merchant credit cards issued by Synchrony Financial. You still earn any rewards or points linked to those cards, but specific loyalty cards and coupons aren’t supported. There’s no in-app payments feature either, though Samsung hasn’t ruled it out.

Again, you need an established way to process credit cards and a compatible POS, and you won’t pay any additional fees for Samsung Pay transactions. But your existing credit card terminal might already accept this particular type of payment. That’s because Samsung Pay uses both NFC and something called magnetic secure transmission (MST). Basically, it allows the phone to emulate a traditional card with a magnetic stripe. That means you don’t need an NFC-capable terminal — but if you don’t have NFC, you can’t accept Apple Pay or Android Pay (next on this list), which limits your options.

Most EMV terminals are also equipped for NFC, so the machine you just got as a result of the liability shift most likely supports these contactless payments. But if your terminal isn’t EMV capable, that’s another issue entirely.

Samsung Pay relies on a fingerprint scanner as well. Users need to launch the app, swipe their fingerprint, and then pass their devices close to the terminal. That’s not quite as intuitive as Apple Pay from a user-friendliness standpoint, but apps evolve and change. At this point it’s just too early to say anything definitively.

3. Android Pay / Google Wallet

android-pay-logoAndroid Pay, like Samsung Pay, is very new, launching in September 2015. At the same time, it’s much older than that: Android Pay is the successor to Google Wallet, Google’s contactless payment solution/mobile wallet, which launched in 2011.

Android Pay works on any Android smartphone (Samsung, HTC, LG, and Motorola, just to name a few) running the KitKat OS (Android 4.4) or higher. It’s NFC-powered, with support for debit and credit cards as well as loyalty/rewards programs. An in-app payments feature is set to launch later.

These days, Google Wallet has become a P2P payments app — an easy way to send money to friends and family for free.

The wallet supports Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards from a handful of banks, including Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Citi, PNC, Wells Fargo, and USAA (check out the full list here; more banks will be added as time goes on).

By now, you should have a good idea of what to expect as a merchant: You need a way to process credit cards, a compatible POS, and of course, an NFC-capable terminal. Payments are kept secure with tokenization. Users also need to enable the lock screens on their phones — which can then be unlocked using fingerprint readers, PINs, swipe patterns, and more.

4. LevelUp

LevelUp-logoThe alternative mobile payments technique to NFC is the QR code. QR codes work a lot like traditional barcodes, but they can hold a lot more information — like payment data. The biggest difference is that instead of an NFC-enabled terminal, you need a barcode reader.

LevelUp is the leader in QR code-based mobile payments with its app, but it also builds custom white-label apps for businesses. In addition to the QR codes, LevelUp works with NFC and iBeacon. The LevelUp app works for both iOS and Android. In addition to phone-based payments, LevelUp also supports loyalty programs. You can even link any loyalty programs you have set up through Apple Pay into LevelUp (there’s also support for one-touch signups using TouchID).

Despite having been around for a while (it launched in 2011), LevelUp is admittedly a small player. It has some 14,000 partner businesses, including some major names. The app has over 100,000 downloads in Google Play, which isn’t much compared to a lot of other apps. But the company does have white-label solutions, so it’s difficult to accurately gauge numbers.

LevelUp is a little bit vague on pricing, but if you dig around, you’ll find that payments are processed for a flat 2% fee. That’s good, considering Square charges 2.75% and PayPal 2.7% per swipe. It’s not necessarily as low as you’ll get with merchant accounts, but rates vary a lot based on the type of business you run and what kind of cards you process. A flat 2% should be convenient for most people. LevelUp will also charge a 25% cut of any incentives you offer through its campaigns feature.

To accept payments, you need a compatible POS and LevelUp’s proprietary scanner ($50 each). If your POS isn’t compatible, you can get the LevelUp tablet for $100 according to the pricing page on the website.

As far as security goes, LevelUp offers PCI compliance and encryption, as well as tokenization. In fact, LevelUp uses a triple token system: the token your phone generates goes to a token on the LevelUp servers, which in turn routes to a token on the Braintree servers, which is the payments service LevelUp uses to store credit card data.

5. CurrentC

CurrentCCurrentC_App is another QR code-based payments method. It’s developed by the Consumer Merchant Exchange, led by Walmart and some other heavy-hitters in the retail business. Unlike LevelUp, users can pay using either their bank accounts, store cards, or gift cards. For merchants, that means significantly lower fees. (It’s not well advertised, but you can also add merchant credit and debit cards.) CurrentC also links up with loyalty cards and lets you redeem coupons and discounts in the app.

CurrentC is still in test mode, but the website promises it’ll be ready to roll out across the country soon. One advantage for CurrentC is that it’s widely available for consumers — whereas Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are only available for the most recent smartphone models, and Android Pay requires a recent version of Android (which not all smartphones get), CurrentC should be available for download even on budget smartphones.

In terms of user experience, CurrentC is a bit clunky. Depending on the location, users have to scan a QR code generated by the register, or the cashier has to scan one generated by the user’s phone. If that doesn’t work, then you’ll have to enter a code. With some retailers, you can use Bluetooth Beacons instead of QR codes.

As far as security goes, CurrentC requires you to put in a PIN every time you open the app or switch between apps. You can also lock the device remotely if it ever goes missing. Like the other services we’ve discussed here, the app uses tokenization — it generates a random one-time use transaction ID and doesn’t pass personal data onto the merchants.

CurrentC is odd in that it also collects some personal health information — it’s disclosed in the privacy policy, which you can read here. While it seems fairly innocuous, I highly recommend that you understand what data is collected and how it’s used.

As far as requirements to accept CurrentC go, you’re really just going to need a POS and barcode scanner capable of reading QR codes. CurrentC also has a way to allow gas stations to accept payments at the pump by inputting a code. Restaurants can use the app too, with a feature that enables consumers to leave a tip.

I’m hoping when CurrentC gets a broader release that the MCX will be a bit more forthcoming about information. There’s no disclosure of processing fees, for example. The support website, which is hidden from the main site, has much more information about how the app works, which I find a bit frustrating because it took some digging to uncover it.

6. PayPal

Paypal-Logo-2015As a retailer, accepting PayPal has a huge advantage for you. It’s widely recognized by consumers, so they feel secure paying with it. In fact, PayPal has more than 170 million users worldwide, and it’s the payment method of choice on eBay. PayPal lets users link credit cards, debit cards, or bank accounts to make their payments. There’s also a free P2P payments tool, so consumers can send money to friends and family for free.

Merchants can use PayPal to accept payments on a website and through a smartphone or tablet when they’re on the go or in stores.

For retailers, PayPal doesn’t offer a full POS in its own right — it has a decent set of features, but if you need more capabilities, you can always turn to one of PayPal’s partner POS systems, which you can learn more about here. You can build a register out of a tablet, a cash drawer, and a receipt printer, if you want one. You’ll pay just 2.7% per swipe.

For online retail, PayPal integrates with a lot of shopping carts. For most online transactions, the company charges 2.9% + $0.30. That’s higher than you’ll pay with a solid deal from a merchant account provider in most circumstances, but it comes with a super easy setup. (Just beware that you’re at a higher risk of potential holds or freezes on your account given the nature of PayPal’s business — no contracts, available to everyone, pay as you go.

You can also build a “Pay with PayPal” feature into apps, with PayPal’s One Touch Feature included so that users don’t have to re-enter their usernames and passwords, which adds to the convenience of using PayPal.

However, if you want a hosted payment page, you’re going to have to shell out $30 a month for the PayPal Payments Pro plan. You’ll also get a virtual terminal for that cost. If you have the standard PayPal plan (which has no monthly fees), your customers will be directed to the PayPal page to complete the payment, then back to your site.

If you’re using PayPal Here, the company’s mobile solution, you should know that PayPal does offer an EMV reader that also supports NFC payments. It’s $150, but you can get $100 in rebates when you process $3,000 in 3 months. That’s not the best deal — Square is able to offer an EMV capable reader for $30, or an EMV/NFC-capable reader for $49, with a rebate available for select retailers. Even if you don’t qualify for Square’s rebates, Square’s EMV/NFC reader at full price is the same as PayPal’s reader when it’s discounted.

Like PayPal, Square lets merchants accept credit card payments on the go and in stores. You can also accept Square online, provided you use either the Square marketplace or build a site using one of Square’s 2 (yup, that’s right, 2) partners. Square’s rates are comparable to PayPal — just a flat 2.75%, no per-transaction fees.

7. Pay with Amazon

Pay with AmazonLike PayPal, Pay with Amazon (also known as the bulkier “Login and Pay with Amazon”) lets users pay on your site using their login credentials for another site — in this case, Amazon. They can use whatever payment methods they have stored on their Amazon accounts.

While PayPal is universally known, Pay with Amazon seems to be less common — but that doesn’t mean you should discount it. Amazon had 244 million active users in 2014. That’s roughly 70 million MORE users than PayPal. You won’t be limiting your audience if you choose Pay with Amazon over PayPal.

Pay with Amazon charges you 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction. That’s identical to PayPal’s rates for online transactions. You can even do recurring billing for subscription packages. Plus, Pay with Amazon is entirely pay-as-you-go: no contract, no early termination fee, no monthly fees.

However, it’s worth mentioning that there’s no mobile support, so if you also sell in person, either at events or in a store, you’re going to have to look elsewhere for a solution. To accept Login and Pay with Amazon, you just need a compatible shopping cart. Fortunately, you have several great options: You can choose from Xcart, Magento, and Shopify, among others. Check out the full list here.

There are some other advantages here. First, Amazon offers a growth guarantee: If you sign up for the service, and you don’t see an increase in sales over the course of 30 days, the company will refund your processing fees up to $100,000. That’s a nice option if you’re really not sure about switching.

Plus, the Login and Pay with Amazon feature gives you a hosted payment page for free. More good news: You get the same fraud protection used by the Amazon.com site, so you’re not liable for any fraud-related chargebacks. (However, that’s not to say you’re protected against everything; you can still expect a $20 fee for any service-related chargebacks.)

One downside is the time it takes to get your money, which has been a pain point for a long time for sellers on the Amazon marketplace. First, there’s an initial 2-week holding period. After that, Amazon will settle your account daily — but it still takes 3-5 days to transfer funds from your account to your bank. With PayPal, your money is available pretty much immediately…and if you have the PayPal debit card, you can spend it anywhere at any time, not just online.

8. Bitcoin

bitcoinOut of all the alternative payments here, Bitcoin is most definitely the most “alternative” option. Unlike cash or credit, Bitcoins don’t have any physical form. No coins, no paper money. Bitcoin exists solely on the web. Unlike other currencies,which are centralized and controlled by governments, it is entirely self regulated. A network of computers handles the processing and records the transactions in a public register (more on that in a moment).

There’s a lot of info available about what Bitcoin is and how it works. You can start here to learn more. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know to accept Bitcoin.

First, not accepting Bitcoin certainly won’t cost you any business. The estimated userbase is 5-10 million people worldwide, with an estimated 110,000 daily Bitcoin transactions as of June 2015 (nearly double the approximate 60,600 daily transactions in June of 2014). However, if your target demographic is young and hip to the digital scene, that’s certainly a reason for you to consider accepting Bitcoin.

One nice advantage to accepting Bitcoin is that generally speaking, the fees are incredibly low, especially compared to PayPal or credit card processing rates. Some processors can even take Bitcoin and convert it into US dollars and deposit it in your bank account. However, the fees also vary, and the value of Bitcoin fluctuates. From October 2014 to October 2015, the value of 1 Bitcoin has hit as low as $177.28 USD and spiked as high as $427.24.

Security works much differently with Bitcoin, too. Every transaction is kept as part of a public ledger, but the users’ personal details are anonymous, which makes it harder to steal someone’s identity. No PCI compliance is required. There’s no opportunity for chargebacks, but at the same time merchants can’t alter charges, either. And you can encrypt and secure your Bitcoin wallet in other ways as well.

To accept Bitcoin, you just need to find a processor. Good news is, there are a lot of them. Even PayPal has a way to accept Bitcoin, through the PayPal Payments Hub. Braintree, a PayPal-owned company, also accepts Bitcoin via a partnership with Coinbase.

9. E-Check/ACH

Cash, debit, and credit are the most popular kids on the block when it comes to payments. Checks lag far behind other options — an April 2014 report by the Fed found that just 3% of people prefer to pay primarily with check, compared to 43% of people who favor debit cards.

That’s not to say checks are totally irrelevant. Some people don’t have debit cards. Or sometimes your debit card gets cancelled and you’re stuck waiting for the new one to arrive, but you need to make a purchase. And you can (sort of) use checks to pay online, thanks to e-checks. Those type of transactions are also called ACH transactions because they’re routed through the Automated Clearing House, which is an electronic network of banks that also handles direct deposit and electronic bill payments. You don’t have an explicit check number with e-checks, but you still have to provide your routing and account numbers, much like the old-fashioned bit of paper.

The numbers on the popularity of ACH are a bit sketchy. In 2014, the ACH handled more than 23 billion electronic payments totaling more than $40 trillion. The problem with that number is that it includes all those direct deposits and bill payments — mortgages and utilities, especially. It’s not a completely accurate depiction of the eCommerce scene.

One of the big advantages to this payment method is how much more affordable it is compared to standard credit card processing rates. ACH fees, depending on who processes them, might be a percentage of 0.5% or 1%, or a flat fee, which is typically in the range of $0.25 to $0.75. That’s not bad at all, especially if you get the flat fee. Assuming a 1.85% rate on credit card processing fees for a $250 transaction, that’s $4.63 in fees compared to a maximum of $2.50 with a 1% rate for ACH.

There are a lot of ways to accept ACH. For one, both Amazon and PayPal allow customers to link and pay with their bank accounts, though you, as the merchant, will end up paying the standard 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (for a $250 transaction, that means $7.55).

If you have a virtual terminal, you should be able to enable this feature, but fees will vary based on your provider. Some of the services that we’ve reviewed that support ACH/e-checks include:

  • PayJunction
  • PaySimple
  • Forte Payment Systems

Another merchant account provider that supports e-checks is PayStand. We haven’t reviewed PayStand in depth (partly because it just launched publicly in 2014), but right off the bat we’re impressed by the level of transparency on the site and the depth of information available. We’re less impressed by the claim that its credit card rates — 2.49% + $0.30 — are wholesale, especially given the additional $99 monthly fee for the basic plan. However, PayStand also gives you very low-cost ACH transactions and free Bitcoin processing, as well as mobile processing. The service is promising and some merchants are sure to find value in Paystand’s offerings.

You also don’t need to sell exclusively online to accept ACH. If you have a retail setup, you can get a scanner to convert checks into e-checks. That means transactions will be a bit easier — there’s no forwarding checks to banks and waiting to find out if they clear.

ACH is definitely a great backup option to have, but probably not the best choice for a sole payment option. There are a couple of reasons not everyone will want to use ACH payments:

  • One, ACH takes a bit longer to process than debit or credit. So it takes longer for you to get your money and consumers have to wait longer for the transaction to process.
  • Two, it’s not the most secure for consumers, because they have to provide both their account numbers and routing numbers. While the rate of fraudulent transactions is low — just 3 of every 10,000 ACH transactions are rejected for being unauthorized — online payments are the least secure form of ACH transfers (compared with direct deposits, P2P transfers, and online bill pay).

And frankly it’s easier for a lot of people to plug in a card number and a 3-digit security code than it is to root around for your checkbook to get the account and routing numbers.

10. Dwolla

dwolla-accepted-here-logoDwolla is technically a third-party ACH service, but it’s a standout in the field for a few reasons. One, Dwolla’s basic features are entirely free to use. That means ACH payments, recurring payments, and the ability to distribute large numbers of payments (e.g., employee paychecks). And there’s an option of sending money to family or friends, as well, so there’s definitely a consumer base.

Two, with the tiered service plans (starting at $25/month and going up to $1500/month) you get a range of extra features that make Dwolla even more attractive. That includes next-day transfers (a big plus) and the option for white-label payments. That means, basically, you’ll get a hosted payment page. Customers don’t leave your site and don’t get any indication that they’re using Dwolla.

Paying $1,500 per month for the service sounds outrageous, until you consider that you’re not paying any transaction fees. If you’re doing substantial business with ACH payments, you could easily wind up saving money in the long run. And having a hosted payment page is nothing to sneeze at — or the next-day transfers, the higher limits, payment profiles, etc. (There’s also a $250/month option that gives you more than the basic package but not quite as many perks. That’s good if your business isn’t quite enterprise-scale.)

Now, if you don’t want to shell out $250 or $1,500 monthly for all the fancy tools, or don’t care about a hosted payment page, the basic $25/month plan still gives you next-day transfers. If you want to keep your fees even lower, you can forgo the next-day payments all together.

Customers have the option to create a full-fledged Dwolla account or use the simpler Dwolla Direct. The Direct account is a lot less involved compared to Dwolla’s original setup. Customers can get themselves set up in under a minute and they can link their online banking credentials to pay instead of linking their accounts directly.

As far as security goes, Dwolla uses tokenization and TLS 128-bit encryption. There’s also two-factor authentication — and you’ll have to enter your PIN whenever you move money or make a change to an account.

Adding Dwolla to your options for online payments is easy with the custom API, and creating an account is free, so you can give it a try and get a feel for it before you even set up Dwolla for your business.

Alternative Payment Methods: So Where to Now?

If you are looking for alternatives to credit cards and traditional merchant accounts, there’s no better time to get started. Technology is changing the way we think about payments and how we handle money in general: everything from mobile wallets that replace credit cards to decentralized digital currency. There are alternative payment methods to appeal to every market segment, and options to appeal to every sort of business. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you and your customers.

Have questions about your options for payment processing? Leave a comment and let us know. We’re always happy to hear from you! We can also help you lower your processing fees or even choose a processor.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Alternative Payment Methods appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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6 Ways Square Must Change After Going Public

square-register-tablet

Square is finally a openly traded company. The entire affair generated a substantial amount of buzz for several reasons — what it really method for investors, what it really method for other tech companies (and payment companies) that are looking to visit public&#8230and what it really method for retailers.

Since its founding, Square&#8217s stored rather mother about its financials. To go public, though, Square needed to release a substantial amount of information it most likely didn&#8217t wish to ever begin to see the light of day. The image isn&#8217t pretty. Here&#8217s what we should have discovered:

  1. More than 60% from the money Square earns from retailers goes directly toward having to pay banks, the charge card systems, and so forth. Which means it just keeps 30-40% of the items it earns, including all its expenses — having to pay employees, maintaining your lights on, etc.
  2. As a result of that, Square is really operating on the deficit, meaning it&#8217s taking a loss each year.
  3. The overwhelming most of Square&#8217s business — 96% actually — comes just from processing payments. The rest originates from Square&#8217s secondary services, like its funding for small companies, its P2P funds transfer network, its marketing services, payroll, and appointment booking.
  4. Square&#8217s share of the market within the payments game is simply 10% by analyst estimates.

First, should you&#8217re a merchant, I’ve two words: DON&#8217T. PANIC.

Square isn&#8217t near sinking or closing up shop. Amazon . com&#8217s never been lucrative, however it will get just by fine. Greater than fine, really.

The IPO gave Square a fresh infusion of money, and regardless of the sorry-sounding figures, the  company is still growing. There are more promising signs, too: Its sellers generate more quality than sellers on eBay do, for instance. Square&#8217s two million retailers generated greater than $32 billion in transaction value from September 2014 to September 2015. For eBay, it requires 25 million sellers — greater than 12 occasions the amount of Square users — to create $80 billion in transaction volume, a little more than two times those of Square.

Additionally, revenues in the aforementioned secondary services are really growing. They&#8217re up from just 1% in 2013.

This really is not even close to the finish, however it&#8217s certainly a wakeup call to the organization. So so what can Square do in order to make itself better — to create itself right into a full-fledged platform for small companies that are looking to accept credit cards while solidifying its place in the market? Listed here are our recommendations.

1. Stop Acting Just like a Payments Processor 

We&#8217ve stated before that all the extra services featuring are what make Square really shine like a payments option. The worth which comes readily available integrated choices are unbeatable. If Square can monetize them better, it could stand an opportunity of unseating a few of the top contenders within the payments game as well as in commerce generally. That&#8217s likely to be important, because other services will only be competitive in the future. Innovation waits without one.

Square won&#8217t survive whether it remains just a payments processor, particularly with PayPal now liberated to dabble on the market and rumors of Apple beginning its very own P2P payments service.

Ultimately, the organization really must find something it may fare better than other people. That was once mobile processing, however the marketplace is too saturated. Yes, there are several benefits of using Square — I really like the Offline Mode, and also the cost from the EMV readers may be the deciding factor for some retailers who’d normally choose PayPal Here. Individuals continue to be selling points&#8230 however they don&#8217t inherently make Square much better than other people.

Obviously, once it understands what this &#8220something&#8221 is, Square will have to sell it off really, very well. The company will have to evolve, meaning altering what individuals already consider Square and convincing them the organization is all about greater than payments. It&#8217s difficult, however a clever advertising campaign and lots of education for merchants goes a lengthy way toward accomplishing this goal.

2. Manage Risk Better

The issue with Square&#8217s type of clients are simply it&#8217ll let almost anybody setup a free account with hardly any done when it comes to screening. Which means it&#8217s accepting a fairly higher level of risk — and gambling with risk like this doesn&#8217t always repay. Square loses a great deal money consequently.

Additionally, it has additionally brought to 1 other bigger problem: Square&#8217s compliance department will get incredibly trigger-happy if this suspects something isn&#8217t perfectly kosher. Leading towards the holds and terminations that a lot of retailers face.

It&#8217s given Square an awful status (one which&#8217s further affected by the issue of poor customer support). Yes, there are many other businesses that do all right using Square. A number of my personal favorite restaurants utilize it, and that i know many artists and vendors around the convention scene who’re incredibly pleased with the service. However this continues to be a problem — enough the story gets selected up by major news outlets like NPR (Disclaimer: Our Chief executive officer, Amad Ebrahimi, is featured within the story).

There are a handful of solutions here. Neither is ideal. But finding a method to reduce risk will become important to Square&#8217s survival. Something needs to change. For example, the organization could:

  • Screen applicants better. It may be much more of a hassle initially, but consider the sources wasted on establishing and managing accounts that will get closed lower inside the first couple of transactions, and the amount of Square&#8217s support goes toward coping with unhappy retailers who&#8217ve recently been ended. That&#8217ll the aid of a person service perspective, too. Whether or not this&#8217s financially achievable may be the question.
  • Become more transparent by what the organization views a danger. There&#8217s not a rhyme or need to why accounts have funds held past the apparent: suspiciously large transactions and certain kinds of risk-prone companies. However if you simply check out the BBB complaints against Square, there&#8217s a fairly obvious trend: Square doesn&#8217t really let retailers know why their accounts were ended. Many give you the documents requested but still obtain a canned response citing the organization&#8217s tos, which condition that Square are able to place a hang on or terminate a free account for essentially whatever reason — or none whatsoever.

3. Allow Retailers to make use of its POS Software without Payment Processing

Square Register is a nice solid application. It&#8217s definitely not a complete-featured POS, however it has just about everything that fledgling companies, in addition to many mid-sized companies, need. Imagine having the ability to route payments through another person while still using Square Sign up for a regular monthly fee.

This removes the issue of risk entirely — Square isn&#8217t handling payments of these merchants it&#8217s just supplying the program. Additionally, it implies that Square could attract bigger companies which have merchant services, and provide its services for them. This is exactly what Flint Mobile did lately, and i believe others follows suit.

If Square could decouple its payments processing in the application itself, it could possess a viable, in-demand product having a bigger profit than it can make from processing charge card payments. Obviously, Square will still offer payment processing for individuals who only require a simple PSP account, the answer is giving more options. Square performs this excellently using its Application Marketplace and API, also it&#8217s this sort of capability to seamlessly work and talk to other items that retailers and consumers alike are demanding increasingly more.

Now clearly, this is mostly speculation. For those we all know, it may be completely unfeasible. However the possibility is exciting also it would solve, or at best reduce, certainly one of Square&#8217s greatest problems.

4. Expand eCommerce Integration Options

Square Marketplace (in addition to marketplaces like eBay and Amazon . com) is ideal for sellers who’re just beginning out, but retailers who’re inside it for that lengthy haul ought to be going after a website that belongs to them. Square only supports two options: Weebly or Bigcommerce. Whether it&#8217s seriously interested in expanding its choices to small companies (a lot of whom wish toOrrequire to market online), it&#8217s gonna need to get friendly with a few of the other big players in eCommerce.

There’s, admittedly, one trouble with this: Online transactions are processed as card-not-present, meaning a greater degree of risk. With Square&#8217s already small margins, this can be a legitimate issue. However, online transactions via Square Marketplace are slated to become processed at 2.9% + $.30 beginning mid-2016, and users who’ve Weebly and BigCommerce sites happen to be having to pay that rate. This is the same rate billed by PayPal and many other similar services. That provides Square a greater profit of computer presently collects, that is a good factor, and keeps it competitive.

5. Expand Features within the Square Platform

Square already has some really awesome tools built-in. There&#8217s a scheduled appointment scheduling service beginning in an additional $30 per month. You can even find some solid marketing tools: e-mail marketing, client satisfaction surveys, special deals. For storefronts, there&#8217s time keeping and payroll (restricted to a number of states at this time, but growing).

It&#8217s these functions that Square must — and wishes to — expand on. And So I say, build this suite of features up! More particularly, discover the places where online sellers and store proprietors are presently undeserved. Then, deliver the answer with competitive prices.

6. Stay with Business Products

The issue with lots of Square&#8217s unsuccessful side projects is they were either far too late towards the game or they didn&#8217t match Square&#8217s choices at that time.

Square isn’t, and it is not going to be PayPal. PayPal has got the unique benefit of being available to to both retailers and consumers — Square, less. So Square Wallet and Square Order were type of condemned to fail. Square Cash faces exactly the same trouble.

Frankly, the planet doesn&#8217t require a PayPal copycat. With no business will make it if you attempt to conquer this specific giant at its very own game. It&#8217s a lot like attempting to copy Apple. That hasn&#8217t labored out well for businesses which have attempted (I&#8217m searching to you, Samsung) because the bottom of Apple&#8217s success isn&#8217t the merchandise — but exactly how much people have confidence in the merchandise.

Square absolutely needs to pay attention to what value it may offer to companies whether it really wants to grow. That&#8217s why I really think the purchase of Caviar perform. Restaurants that are looking to include delivery but don&#8217t always understand how to get it done well can depend about this Uber-like service rather.

Final Ideas

You&#8217ll observe that each one of these points come lower to 1 key issue: Square can&#8217t carry on doing what it really does. Payment processing isn&#8217t enough. Burning through retailers who present unacceptably higher level of risks is driving up costs and creating legions of unhappy ex-customers, regardless of the number of other medication is quite happy with the service. Attempting to follow within the steps of competitors isn&#8217t likely to work, either: Square must get in front of the game and discover a obvious, unique advantage for retailers all walks of existence.

What do you want to see from Square? Would you accept our assessment? Leave us a remark and let’s read your comments!

The publish 6 Ways Square Must Change After Going Public made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Very Best Mobile and occasional-Volume Payment Processing Solutions

low volume mobile payment processing

With this favorite mobile and occasional-volume processor Flint Mobile formally lower for that count, we&#8217re all researching and scrambling like mad to get the best replacements and alternatives on short notice. That will help you during your search and comparisons, we&#8217ve come up with a few handy charts.

The very first chart compares the stats for four from the greatest names in mobile processing today: Square, PayPal Here, Capital One&#8217s Spark Pay, and Intuit&#8217s QuickBooks GoPayment.

Largest Mobile Processors and Flint Mobile Options for Low-Volume:

  Square Square-logo-small PayPalPayPal Here review: One of the top Square alternatives Spark Payspark-pay-logo-white GoPaymentquickbooks-logo
Review Review Review Review
Rating 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars
Contract Duration Month-to-Month Month-to-Month Month-to-Month Month-to-Month
Early Termination Fee None None None None
Customer Support Quality Fair Fair Good Good
Account Stability Fair Fair Good Good
Junk Charges None None None None
Fee Every Month $ $ Low-Volume: $

Standard: $19

Low-Volume: $

Standard: $19.95

Other Standard Charges None None None None
Transparent Cost-Plus Prices No No No No
Rates Swiped: 2.75%

eCommerce: 2.90% + $.30

Keyed-In: 3.50% + $.15

Swiped:

2.70%

eCommerce:

2.90% + $.30

Keyed-In:

3.50% + $.15

Low-Volume: 2.69% Swiped, 3.70% American stock exchange or Keyed-In

Standard: 1.99% Swiped, 2.80% American stock exchange or Keyed-In

Low-Volume:

2.40% + $.25 Swiped,

3.40% + $.25 Keyed-In

Standard:

1.60% + $.25 Swiped, 3.20% + $.25 Keyed-In

Mobile EMV Support Yes Yes Not Far Off Not Far Off
Countertop EMV Support Yes Yes Not Far Off Not Far Off
Mobile Swipe Readers Cost $ $ $ $
EMV Readers Cost $30 &#8211 $50 $149 for mobile, no printer incorporated None Available None Available
Mobile Application Yes Yes Yes Yes
Application Name Square Register PayPal Here Spark Pay GoPayment
POS Software Features Good Moderate Moderate Fundamental
Invoicing Available Available No With Integration
Online Selling Tools Yes Yes No Yes
Virtual Terminal No Yes No Yes

The next chart examines the best options via credit card merchant account providers. Oftentimes, these options can finish up being less costly. As the free POS/processing software has a tendency to leave something to become preferred, you could integrate having a different POS system &#8211 a choice most mobile-only processors don&#8217t provide.

Observe that many of these providers use interchange-plus prices. Therefore the figures provided listed here are the markup rate, and not the entire fee. Still, in just about all scenarios, these rates is going to be far below Square&#8217s. Read this infographic to learn more about interchange-plus prices along with other payment processing rates and charges.

Online Merchant Account Providers-Based Flint Mobile Options for Mobile and occasional-Volume:

  Payline Data

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CDGcommercecdgcommerce-logoReview Helcimhelcim-logoReview Payment Depot

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Rating 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars
Contract Duration Month-to-Month Month-to-Month Month-to-Month Month-to-Month
Early Termination Fee None None None None
Customer Support Quality Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Account Stability Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Junk Charges None None None None
Fee Every Month Low Volume: $

Standard: $15

$10 Retail: $12

eCom/Mobile: $30

Low Volume: $29

Mid Volume: $49

High Volume: $69

Other Standard Charges None None None None
Transparent Cost-Plus Prices Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rates Low Volume: .50% + $.15 Retail, .65% + $.15

eCom/Mobile Standard: .20% + $.10 Retail, .35% + $.10 eCom/Mobile

Retail/Mobile: .25% + $.05

eCommerce: .30% + $.15

Retail: .18% + $.08

eCom/Mobile: .36% + $.25

Low Volume: .00% + $.25

Mid Volume: .00% + $.15

High Volume: .00% + $.10

Mobile EMV Support No No No Yes
Countertop EMV Support Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mobile Swipe Readers Cost $75 $ $ $50
EMV Readers Cost Beginning at $237 for countertop EMV device with built-in receipt printer $79 each year rental fee for countertop EMV device with built-in receipt printer Beginning at $199 for countertop EMV device with built-in receipt printer $50 for mobile EMV, countertop EMV devices available
Mobile Application Yes Yes Yes Yes
Application Name iProcess ProcessNow VirtualMerchant Mobile SwipeSimple
POS Software Features Fundamental incorporated, advanced provided with integration Fundamental incorporated, advanced provided with integration Fundamental incorporated, advanced provided with integration Fundamental incorporated, advanced provided with integration
Invoicing Available Available Available Available
Online Selling Tools Yes Yes Yes Yes
Virtual Terminal Yes Yes Yes Yes

Conclusion:

This won&#8217t function as the finish in our look for the very best Flint Mobile alternatives. Flint left big footwear to fill, but we&#8217re going to find better still solutions. There exists a couple of new providers within the review pipeline, and will also be continuously cranking them out. Meanwhile, browse the companies we&#8217ve checked out here, and follow us on Facebook to obtain updates once we publish more mobile processing application reviews.

Should you&#8217re considering Square, however, you&#8217re unsure whether it&#8217s suitable for your company, browse the article we printed on just that subject. For many companies, it&#8217s an excellent solution. For other people &#8211 it&#8217s a nightmare waiting to occur.

The publish The Very Best Mobile and occasional-Volume Payment Processing Solutions made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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