Mobile payments have revolutionized the way many people pay a range of bills stretching from utilities to insurance. The options available to mobile customers continue to expand with the market, and retailers need to understand the different forms of mobile payments as well as how this growing field may affect their businesses. From charges applied to phone bills to charges sent to external banks and accounts, mobile payment options give customers more choices than ever before. They can even offer credit card processing.
Retailers in the past accepted mobile payments in the form of debits from cell phone providers. These charges went directly to the phone company and were paid as part of customers' phone bills. PayPal and similar services supplanted these operations when their platforms went mobile. Mobile payments from online pay providers now often come directly from bank or credit card companies in much the same manner as in-store point-of-sale transactions. This allows retailers greater security, as these forms of payment are already covered by many federal or state banking regulations.
Stores that sell goods online or at venues such as conventions, trade shows, or flea markets now have other options available. PayPal and other companies now offer credit card scanners with merchant accounts. These scanners connect to your laptop or smartphone and allow you to process credit card payments without a credit card machine or landline connection. Such applications can even handle loyalty cards or take payments from other sources such as direct deposit or EFT transactions.
Modern electronic wallet options are also evolving. Today's powerful smartphones can handle the accumulation of loyalty points and tracking of gift certificates as well as banking or credit card transactions. This provides a single point of organization for all of the many cards that consumers once carried in their wallets or strapped to their keyrings. Using this method makes it easier for retailers to determine the financial transaction types their customers prefer. Once a business has this information, it can tailor its offerings to its customers.
Mobile payments have come a long way from the early days of charges tacked onto cell phone bills. Payment processors and credit card providers now offer radio-frequency chips and mobile applications that make it easier than ever to purchase things without needing to swipe a card or even be in the same room as the retailer. Smartphones give retailers new tools for accepting credit cards, gift cards, and loyalty points. These emerging systems are quickly changing the face of modern retail sales. Electronic wallets process payments and transfer funds, but they also integrate with loyalty management tools and can track consumer activity. These functions, combined with modern mobile payments, are likely to continue changing the way retailers handle transactions.
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