How often have you waited in line at the local home improvement store for the one clerk to checkout 20 patrons; often with tired, screaming children running through the aisles? Perhaps you’ve enjoyed a long meal at a Zagat-rated restaurant, and you’ve been waiting for over a ½ hour for your server to process your check. You know the story; its wait, wait, and wait some more! Waiting is what we seem to do best these days. If you’re like me, when you purchase a product or service, you want to get in and out of the retail environment as soon as possible, with no complications at the register.
Recently, an increasing number of retailers and restaurants are offering mobile credit card processing as a solution to alleviate these long checkout queues, as well as enjoy other benefits to the merchant and consumers. In a nutshell, the merchant utilizes a placement reader or card swiper that attaches directly to a smartphone, such as the iPhone, Android or Blackberry. A smartphone app downloaded by the merchant provides the technology for credit card processing, digital signatures and electronic receipt transmission to the customer. The merchant swipes the customer’s card through the placement reader, the card transaction processes in the background, the customer signs the smartphone screen and a receipt is emailed to the customer’s email inbox.
Beyond the obvious convenience factor of reducing retail checkout queues and the efficiency of emailing a receipt directly to a customer email inbox, merchants are starting to tout the other benefits that accompany mobile credit card processing. Merchants that are migrating towards paperless, digital receipts are finding that expensive to maintain receipt printers are no longer necessary. This in turn reduces the merchant’s receipt paper and printer ink costs. With a reduction of paper usage, merchants can now champion the environmentally friendly aspect of paperless receipts in their green marketing campaigns. Customers also appreciate the green alternative to a crumbled receipt that often gets misplaced.
Cardholder security is a major concern for both merchants and customers alike. Most mobile processing systems are equipped with rigorous encryption standards that meet or exceed conventional processing terminals. For example, Alpha Card Service’s QwickPAY mobile processing device surpasses current PCI DSS standards by combining multi-layered MagneSafe™ security, in addition to encrypting card data from the point-of-swipe. The QwickPAY service enables merchants to use their existing mobile devices to make secure, card present transactions anytime and anywhere, without the concerns of storing sensitive card data.
For merchants, there are clear opportunities for direct marketing with obtaining the customer’s email address. Special offers, coupons, newsletters and social media outreach are all possible with this direct relationship with the customer. However, some privacy advocates have expressed concern that obtaining customer email accounts constitute an intrusion into personal information. As electronic receipts have been optional for consumers thus far, most of these concerns are unfounded.
As a person who is frequently impatient with long lines and slow checkout staff, I fully embrace this transformation to digital receipts and mobile credit card processing.