In years gone by small customer-facing businesses might have been able to get away with not accepting card payments. Up until June 2011 small businesses could accept cheques but since then customers can no longer use their bank cards to verify cheques. That has left small businesses who do not accept cards only accepting cash.
Customers now expect to be able to pay by card. They have been spoiled by every establishment accepting payment cards for even the smallest of payments (though sometimes a small levy is charged where payments are under a certain figure, say £5 or £10). Think about all the establishments which take cards now. Local ‘corner’ shops, restaurants and pubs. The latest trend is for mobile businesses to accept cards and that will be the norm very soon. Taxis in London, for example, now accept card payments.
It is no longer a case of staying ahead of the curve for many businesses but is a necessity just to keep up with the competition. For businesses that are on the move, new advances in technology have made accepting card payments much more viable in recent years. Mobile chip and PIN machines are available now which use mobile phone signals to transmit payment information to the merchant services provider. The technology used is usually GPS.
Working on the same technology you can now buy chip and PIN machines which work with your mobile phone, sending encrypted messages to the bank through the phone. These type of devices are lightweight and inexpensive and it wont be long before these devices or similar are commonplace.
For small businesses looking for their first merchant account it is important to be aware of all the costs. A minimum monthly service charge will be payable, rental costs for the machines/ cost of purchasing the machines, cost per transaction and others such as activation and early termination charges.
When you look at the technologies available now such as contactless cards and mobile payments no longer accepting cards seems archaic. Think of it from purely a branding perspective and what customers think if you do not accept card payments. You don’t look like the market leading professional outfit that put their customers first.
Is it time your small business made the decision to offer your customers chip and PIN payments at last? It might be the best decision your business can make in the tough economic climate at the end of 2012.