Mobile payments as a way of doing business are on the upswing. Whether they use Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Android Pay, or another option, customers increasingly are looking for “touchless” ways to pay.

Carolee Boyles

“Customers’ online payments can be made through an online wallet now,” says Innovative President Larry Haege. Soon Christian retailers will process customers’ mobile payments the same way they process credit cards. The ability to take mobile payments requires a POS device to use near-field communication (NFC), a set of communication protocols that enables two different electronic devices to “talk” to one another when the two devices are within about two inches of each other.

“As our retailers have converted to EMV or ‘smart card’ readers, we’ve made sure that those readers are equipped with NFC,” says Brent Casey, VP of operations and customer relations for Bookstore Manager. “That means that the device is capable of reading the cardholder’s information, transmitting the approval, and completing the sale.”

TSYS Merchant Solutions Director of Marketing and Communications Cory Mann says that when it comes to taking mobile payments, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes from a network perspective. “What we do is make sure that the retailer has the right point-of-sale device, and that it’s enabled to accept that type of transaction,” he says.

A MUST-HAVE

Casey says that as consumers come to expect retailers to have mobile payment technology, retailers need to have it. “A phone is becoming more of a personal assistant and a wallet that holds everything. If a retailer’s base of clients is using that technology, then he or she will want to have it.”

Haege agrees: “It will be important that Christian retailers provide these services consistent with the adoption rate of the customers,” adding that mobile technology will allow retailers to do much more than just make payments with their phones. “Currently, Christian retailers’ customers can receive emails from the retailer on their mobile devices, shop on their mobile devices, or hold an order for in-store pick-up with their mobile devices,” he says. “Notification of their in-store pick-up can be received on their phone, tablet, or computer.”

ON-THE-GO PAYMENTS

No discussion of mobile payments would be complete without at least mentioning the other side of mobile payments: merchants who use cell phones or other handheld devices to take payments when they’re away from their stores. Some merchants use a service such as Square; others use an option provided by their regular POS provider.

“There are situations where a retailer will be at a book table or in another circumstance where they’re outside of their store location and it’s convenient to take payments on a mobile device,” says Casey. “We also have a book table program that allows the retailer to take a portion of his system with him,” he adds.

TSYS also supports merchants with this kind of payment. “We have the capability of arming a retailer with the ability to be an ‘on-the-go’ merchant,” says Mann. “They may want to sell their goods at a trade show or at a market on the weekends, and we can help them with that.”

NEW TECHNOLOGY

Regardless of how retailers deal with mobile payments, the whole landscape is changing rapidly. Jason Futch, VP of engineering for Enspire, says storeowners need to keep up to date with the latest technologies, such as Enspire’s Worldly. “They securely store credit cards that you can re-charge over and over,” he says. “We’re also looking at what PayPal offers to see whether it’s the right fit for our particular products, and if it’s something our clients would use.

At the end of the day, it’s all about giving customers what they want.

“For Christian retailers, it comes down to making sure that you accommodate your consumers in how they want to interact with you,” says Mann. “It’s important that retailers be aware of the changing dynamics with consumers, and make sure that they are intentional about what they’re doing to update their point of sale environment.”

Counting the cost

Adding the ability to take payments from a mobile device doesn’t mean spending a lot of money. Casey said that the expense for retailers who use Bookstore Manager is minimal.

“Most readers with near field communication abilities are the same or very close to the same price as non NFC readers,” he said.  “So, there is negligible or no difference in cost.”

Futch agreed.

“If you’re taking advantage of a modern retail solution, then the cost of processing a mobile payment is no more than the cost of processing through traditional channels,” he said.

Retailers utilizing TSYS will have a bit of expense with integrating mobile payments into their systems.

“We offer a variety of point of sale options that allow merchants to accept Apple Pay,” he said. “We also offer a variety of pricing options including a simplified pricing package that includes a rental option starting at $9.95 per month. Purchase options start at $299.”