Payment processing has grown immensely of the last decade. Collecting payments has become much quicker, more efficient, and more secure with the standardization of online and mobile payments. We have quickly seen services such as PayPal, Google Checkout, WorldPay, and Authorize.net replace checks, money orders, and taking payments over the phone.
Despite the apparent advantages, there are still businesses that are resorting to old school methods instead of making use of the readily available technology. Failure to get with the times not only hurts your business, but it’s also a disservice to your customers.
Perhaps the number one reason why online and mobile payments have grown so rapidly is because they offer convenience. Consumers love the ability to make payments anywhere 24/7. Paying bills, buying products from catalogues, or reserving a hotel room can all be done right on a mobile phone or on your home computer. By forcing customers to call in order to make payments, you inadvertently cause an inconvenience to some consumers.
If your office isn’t open on the day that a customer wants to make a payment, they’re forced to operate on your schedule. Also, out of fear of scams, many consumers do not feel comfortable giving their credit card information over the phone. For companies selling products, you could miss out on a big chunk of the market of people who make their purchases online.
Accept onsite payments
Businesses that operate remotely such as tour operators, artists, and mobile vendors need to have the ability to accept payments anywhere. The move towards mobile payments has made this much easier. Ten to twenty years ago, everyone carried around checks. However, in the past decade the use of checks has been on a sharp decline. Consumers are carrying around debit and credit cards instead.
Mobile merchants who don’t accept debit cards are behind on the times. Accepting mobile payments also means that you don’t have to carry around as much cash which makes you a target for theft.
Setup payment plans
PayPal has recently launched a new service for merchants that allows them to set up financing options for their customers called Bill Me Later. This is great for industries that sell high priced merchandise. Instead of collecting all of the payment upfront, consumers have the option of paying in monthly installments. Everything is managed within PayPal so there isn’t a big technical learning curve.
Best of all, the customer doesn’t have to call the merchant in order to set this up. Everything can be handled online. We’re starting to see many more credit card payment platforms offering similar services with the goal of making payment easier for both merchants and customers.
The way most phone payments are handled is:
1. The customer gives their credit card number
2. The merchant enters the numbers into their computer
3. The merchant gives the customer a confirmation number
In this scenario, the customer is required to write down the confirmation number and store it somewhere safe so it doesn’t get misplaced. Without that confirmation number, there is no proof that the payment actually occurred except for the monthly banking/credit card statement.
If there was a technical issue and the payment didn’t end up going through, without a confirmation number the customer has no proof they attempted to make a payment. This can lead to late fees being applied unbeknownst to the customer until they receive a late notice. With online payments, there is a printable receipt/confirmation page that shows up once the payment has been processed. This page can also be saved onto your computer so that you always have records of all your payments.
Eran Feinstein is the founder of 3G Direct Pay Limited. 3G provides global e-commerce and online payments solutions for the travel and related industries He is a leading authority in the fields of e-commerce, travel and payments, having acquired extensive experience from various parts of the world.