The world of money and making payments has transformed since the start of the century. The shift from cash to card, the increase in contactless payments, digital wallets, and the growth in online to name but a few. With technology at the forefront of payments, businesses need to keep up in order to stay competitive – regardless of their size.
An increasing number of small businesses are adopting a completely cashless approach. Whilst that might seem like a step too far at present– especially if you’re worried that it might put off those who prefer to pay with more traditional methods - whether you adopt a completely cashless approach, or choose to blend card payments with cash-in-hand, it’s important to find a payment system which works for you.
For small businesses who want to take payments from customers face-to-face, the starting point is a card machine or card reader that can accept card payments. There’s been a big increase in the popularity of mobile card machines as agile SMEs have found new ways to do business. They offer the ultimate flexibility for use indoors and outdoors in fixed locations and when out on the road. This makes them a good option for businesses that want flexibility and can react to new opportunities. But what is right for you?
Let’s discuss the major factors at play in making your decision, the right kind of card machine for your business, and, most importantly, the benefits of using one for daily transactions.
What has influenced the rapid use of cashless payments?
The idea of a society that favoured card payments over cash would have felt like the stuff of dreams a couple of decades ago. Money had always been something you could tangibly hold in your hand. And while some people still prefer this kind of traditional exchange, most of us have adapted in some way to cashless payments.
But what has triggered the shift towards a financially digital way of life? Let’s take a look at the key factors which have influenced this move.
- The prevalence of digital payment methods. Reports show there were as many as 779 billion digital transactions in 2020 alone – with that number set to rise by a further 13% by the end of 2021. And with it now possible to pay for goods with your smartphone, or even your watch, cash can feel unnecessary with many people not carrying it at all.
- Ease for consumers. People can literally make payments at the tap of a button, making payments quick, easy and hassle-free. Eliminating the need to count up your pennies and wait patiently for your change has made digital payments the go-to in most scenarios. Splitting the bill with friends, picking up essentials, getting food at a drive-through – it’s all much faster and easier with contactless payments.
- The pandemic. With so many of us trapped inside during the coronavirus pandemic, the move to a cashless world didn’t come as a big surprise. People were forced to purchase everything they needed online. And even when we were allowed to roam about freely again, a lot of us were nervous about touching money previously handled by someone else. A lot of businesses opted to go card-only, and are still operating in this way. This complete overhaul in the way we spent money really accelerated the transition towards cashless transactions.
What kind of card machine is right for my business?
Much like most things in life, card machines don’t come with a one-size-fits-all solution. Often, the type of payment method which will work best for an SME will depend on how their customers choose to pay. Finding the right type of card machine doesn’t mean picking up the first one you find for a reasonable price. It takes a little bit of care and attention – like anything done well in business.
Sounds like a bit of a headache, right? Well, yes and no. While finding the right kind of machine might take some consideration, having the optimum device for your business’ needs could make a huge difference to your profit margins.
We’re here to help make the decision that little bit easier. Let’s find out what kind of card machine you’re going to need to help your business flourish.
- Countertop card machine. If you take payments at the till then this is for you. With a wired connection it processes payments quickly - look for ones that do so in under 2 seconds - with a cable directly to the telephone or broadband, they offer the most reliable connectivity. Great for small businesses who want no hassle or fuss. It’s also more difficult to mislay as it stays right by the till!
- Portable card machines are also worth considering as they allow payments to be taken anywhere on your premises, even outside. Ideal for hairdressers, pubs and restaurants. They work by connecting to Bluetooth or WiFi, which can be limited in distance especially if your premises has thick walls or long distances to reach.
- Mobile payment solution. These devices are not just for mobile businesses. In fact, we are finding they are now the device of choice for many small businesses as they can offer the best of all worlds with WiFi & Bluetooth connectivity for use on the premises as well as GRPS (mobile) connectivity for use when outside in a large pub garden or when out and about. They can even be integrated with an ePOS system to help you stay on top of your business.
- In addition to a card machine, you might want to consider an Electronic Point of sale (ePOS) system. These systems are able to marry your card payment machine to aspects like ordering, accounting, and your inventory. They are usually customisable, and can be a lifesaver in a busy environment like a restaurant. You’ll even be able to manage things like delivery schedules and employee hours using a POS. If you’re thinking of an ePos system you might want to read more about it here.
Which of these examples does your business fall under? Make sure to work out what is going to be the best fit for you. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your specific needs.
The benefits of using a mobile card machine for smaller businesses
With a better understanding of just how important a part contactless payments play in the modern world of spending, it’s time to take a look at exactly why your SME should consider investing in a mobile card machine. Whether it’s to save time, money or reputation, there are a whole host of reasons to turn to mobile card readers.
- Additional security. The beauty of digital payments is they can’t be taken from you as easily as physical cash. And while it’s still possible to fall victim to cybercrime, most card machines will come with encryption technology that combats fraud and data breaches. What’s more, you’ll avoid fraudulent payments (such as a bad cheque or fake bank note), while also avoiding the need to travel back and forth from the bank with large sums of money.
- The emergence of digital wallets. People want to make instant payments at the tap of a card or phone. And with digital wallets now storing payment details for immediate use, SMEs would be smart to adapt and allow customers to pay this way.. Even if your core demographic isn’t at the forefront of technology, this is becoming the norm for younger consumers and it’s use is rising fast. You don’t want to lose out to competitors simply because it’s more convenient to pay with them.
- Rise in mobile phone usage. The latest findings show that over 50% of people aged 18-34 use some form of mobile payment when paying for products. With more people using this innovative form of payment system, SMEs would be smart to adapt to systems that cater to an increasingly versatile and technologically-driven world.
- Ease of adoption. Arguably one of the biggest hooks for any SME looking to introduce a new type of credit card machine is just how simple it is to integrate. This is especially true if you already have a system in place which manages payments and other administrative aspects of your business (like a POS).
- Customer expectations. The long and short of it is that most customers now expect a fully integrated digital payment system when they go to buy something – no matter what the size or scale of a business. After all, when was the last time you weren’t able to pay for something because you didn’t have any cash on you? It’s frustrating, and could leave a negative impression on consumers.
- Faster and convenient. The tap-of-a-button approach is beneficial to all parties concerned. While the consumer can quickly and discreetly pay for their item in an instant, a cashier simultaneously benefits from not having to cash up, give change and manually register the transaction.
The process is smooth, simple, and over in the blink of an eye. What’s more, you’re also given the versatility to receive payments from credit or debit cards, while still giving those who haven’t made the digital leap the chance to pay with cash.
- Greater levels of flexibility. Not everyone operates out of one fixed location. If you own a business like a food van, mobile hairdressers or any other kind of enterprise on wheels, a mobile card reader effectively means you have an electronic till wherever you go – all wrapped up into one handy little device.
- Building customer trust. In an age where card payments are being seen as the norm, customers will appreciate the use of this contemporary technology. Can you remember the last time someone asked you to explicitly pay with cash? It’s rare these days – and when it does happen, there’s a good chance you feel a little uncomfortable as to why card payments aren’t allowed.
- Encouraging customers to spend more. The rise in the contactless limit from £30 to £45 has led to a 29% increase in the amount being spent in the average contactless transaction. With the ability to make payments simpler than ever before, customers are naturally going to spend more money without giving it too much thought. With new rules set to come into effect which see this figure rise to £100 from October 15 2021, that total spend could rise even higher.
Are you convinced that a mobile card machine is what your SME needs to take that leap to the next level? Make sure to get in touch with the RMS team today, to find out how you can get going.
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