According to Winter Green Research, total sales of mobile POS systems will reach $3.1 billion by 2018. Of the 1.2 million mobile POS devices that were sold by Mastercard in 2010 and 2011, 75% of them were to merchants who had never before accepted credit card payments. If you are looking to start using a mobile POS app in your business, make sure it has the qualities you need, including hardware, data integration, and upgraded security. Related: Still working on a traditional system? Our POS vendors have just what you need Hardware One of the benefits of mobile POS systems is their speed and ease of use. Keying in customer card information is neither quick nor easy, which is why most POS apps come with card-swiping hardware -- a "dongle" or "sleeve" -- that attaches to your mobile device. Some of these readers are free when you sign up for the mobile credit card processing service, while other app providers charge for the equipment. Some services even provide you with the entire POS system -- including tablet, reader, and receipt printer -- free with your subscription. Some mobile POS apps only integrate with certain mobile devices and platforms. Make sure that the app you choose and the hardware that comes with it will work on your business's mobile device. Even if you can unlock the app to work on a different device, the hardware may prove more troublesome. There are some POS apps on the market that preclude the need for credit cards at all -- customers simply pay with their own mobile device. Be aware of your customer base -- many of your customers may not have signed up for this service. Related: 6 Reasons You Need to be Using Mobile POS in 2013 Data Integration When you are using your mobile POS solution outside of your storefront -- or if you have multiple locations and a large sales force -- it is imperative that your POS is connected to the cloud. Your POS platform should either integrate with your existing inventory and sales tracking software, or provide you with its own set of real-time analytics. This way, you can access your sales data on the device to immediately find out how much you've sold, how much you have left, and how much you need to order for the next day. Some apps also collect and organize customer data, enabling you to perform a variety of marketing functions like sending mobile coupons or daily deal emails to customers. Security Whenever you collect, transmit, or process credit card information, your business is held to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This standard sets up security guidelines that businesses must follow in order to protect their customers from fraud and data theft. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in financial penalties or lawsuits. Make sure your mobile POS adheres to the guidelines of the PCI DSS. Weaknesses in the app's coding can open its transactions up to hackers and data theft. Look online for reviews of the app and complaints regarding security concerns. The developer should provide regular updates to the app's security. Related: What is PCI Compliance and Why is It Important? The app should either print a customer receipt through a wireless printer, or offer to send a receipt via email or text message. Make sure that all receipts comply with the guidelines -- they should print neither the entire credit card number nor the card expiration date. The use of mobile POS apps in restaurants and retail centers is growing. Whether you're switching your existing system to mobile POS, or utilizing credit card payments for the first time, look for an app that gives you the right hardware, allows data integration, and provides the highest level of data security.