Mobile payment processing isn't new. There are already countless in-phone apps that allow users to easily buy products and services just as they would online. There are also add-on attachments that transform smart devices into portable point-of-sale (POS) terminals. With these mobile readers, you can easily accept mobile credit card payments on the go — as long as you have Wi-Fi or a data connection.
Yet mobile payment technology continues to evolve rapidly, with new innovations and breakthroughs emerging on a near daily basis. Applications that were cutting edge just a few years ago have already become mainstream.
Take the rise of digital wallets, for example.
With this technology, customers can securely link their smart devices to bank accounts and credit cards. At brick-and-mortar stores that use near-field communication (NFC) terminals, these customers can wave their mobile devices across the reader to initiate transactions and complete their purchases.
Virtual wallets were once considered a "fringe" technology with early adopters like Google, having relatively limited success. Though with the arrival of Apple Pay, this mobile payment option has spread like wildfire. It is now easier than ever to shop and spend without ever carrying around older forms of swipe-and-sign plastic.
And this is only the beginning.
Changing the Very Definition of Mobile Payment Processing
Due to the rapid pace of innovation, the very concept of what "mobile" even means continues to shift. Yesterday, this term was used for portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Today, however, a whole range of newer and smaller technologies are helping to reshape the retail industry.
Taking a page from the Fitbit playbook, a number of innovators have begun exploring how to marry payment processing with fashionable accessories.
The Apple Watch is one of the most popular examples of this wearable technology trend. Again, NFC is the engine under the hood. Rather than pull out a "clunky" device like a smartphone, consumers can simply wave their wrists to authorize in-store transactions.
Yet the possibilities become even smaller: Pendants, earrings and other inconspicuous jewelry continue to push the boundaries, making the Apple Watch seem "clunky" by comparison.
There are even temporary tattoos you can wear on your skin to unlock your phone. With the right type of payment terminal or mobile payment gateway, it may one day be possible to use these stickers directly at the cashier — without requiring a smart device as a middleman.
However, we can go even smaller (and scarier). There already exist NFC chips that you can implant directly under your skin using a special syringe, which may soon retail for less than $100.
However, some mobile payment innovators question the need to "wear" anything at all:
- Jewelry can become lost or stolen.
- Tattoos eventually wash off.
- Subdermal chips can break down.
Yet what if there was a reliable payment option that stayed with you —everywhere you go?
Biometric Mobile Payment Technology: Never Leave Home Without It
Apple Pay already uses biometric scanning technology that allows consumers to use their fingerprints to unlock their phones and approve purchases — but again, why use a mobile device at all? A fingerprint scanner at the cash register could verify, process and approve transactions in the future — without requiring any type of wearable technology.
Using your finger to pay would represent the ultimate in "digital" transactions.
Nonetheless, finger scanning still wouldn't represent the ultimate in mobile payment processing. After all, the industry could soon begin using iris scans, voice-recognition and even DNA verification. There really is no limit to how far biometric payment technology can go.
Mobile Payments vs. Traditional Cash
Tattoos, skin implants and biometric scanners are all cool technologies. But why is the payment industry so interested in phasing out cash — one of the most trusted and reliable forms of exchange?
Mobile payment solutions aren’t solely responsible for cash’s diminishing popularity, but it's helping to accelerate a trend that has already been taking place for quite some time. Although cash can be convenient, Americans are increasingly carrying less and less money on them. This phenomenon started even before NFC technology ever became mainstream.
Part of this phasing out process is due to cost. According to a Tufts University study, Americans waste up to $200 billion a year handling, retrieving, depositing and using paper-based money. What’s more, a recent report by Visa illustrates that U.S. consumers are two times as likely to remember their phones as they are to remember their money. When looking at shoppers aged 18 to 34, that number doubles.
By 2017, mobile payments could approach $60 billion annually — perhaps even more if some of the emerging trends outlined above become permanent fixtures in American retail.
Should You Begin Accepting Mobile Payments in Your Store?
Speed, security and convenience are just some of the reasons why consumers seem to love mobile payment processing. Though as a merchant, you also benefit.
When you update your store with NFC technology, it becomes easier to:
- Digitally manage your inventory and supplies.
- Enhance the security of your payment environment.
- Take advantage of superior payment integration.
- Manage real-time loyalty programs and CRM initiatives.
Believe it or not, switching to mobile payment processing is easy. In fact, many modern POS terminals already come equipped with NFC technology.
To learn how BluePay can help you make the transition, contact our payment security team today.