Payment Processing in the Age of the Smartphone

Mobile processing: It’s not just for the big guys anymore. Small business are increasingly getting in on the mobile payment action, to the tune of billions of dollars in transactions in the past year alone.

The chief source for these small business mobile payments is Square Reader, a credit card-processing company dreamed up by the guy behind Twitter.

Used most widely as an app for the iPhone, Square Reader is an increasingly popular way to pay for even the smallest of transactions — like produce at the local farmers’ market, or the cab fare to get to that farmers’ market. Even some Salvation Army bell-ringers are processing donations via Square apps.

The benefits to customers are legion: There’s the convenience and ultra-simplicity of the service, as well as the reliability. It’s also available for iOS and Android, and even lets customers retain their loyalty points per transaction.

According to USA Today, the average Square transaction is about $75. And, this year alone, despite the struggling economy, Square has processed more than $2 billion worth in sales and attracted some 800,000 customers. Richard Branson’s an investor, and the company’s value has been estimated at more than $1 billion.

And all this after launching just last year.

The USA Today article cites Gartner research in claiming that mobile transactions “are expected to nearly double this year, to $86.1 billion from $48.9 billion in 2010.”

“Worldwide mobile payment users, meanwhile, will swell 40%, to 141.1 million in 2011, from 102.1 million in 2010.”

Other companies are joining the mobile gold rush. Never one to be left out of a good thing, Google has recently announced a new mobile-payment venture in collaboration with PayPal and Intuit. And the new Starbucks app allowing mobile payments, launched less than a year ago, already accounts for one in four of that company’s transactions, reports Mashable.

Does your company offer mobile payment processing? Is it the sort of service you think your customers would respond to?
Originally published: Dec 7, 2011

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