The number of consumers who pay with cash continues to decline, and currently accounts for 20 percent of all payment transactions, reported a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In comparison, McKinsey points out that 9 out of 10 Americans use some form of digital payment. And the number of consumers using two or more forms of digital payment grew from 51 percent in 2021 to 62 percent the following year.
Most consumers want to take advantage of faster, safer and more convenient payment methods. So as a business owner, you need to offer the most popular digital payment methods to your customers.
What are digital payment services?
Digital payments transfer money from one account to another without the exchange of cash. For example, if you’ve ever used a credit card, mobile wallet, or app to pay for goods and services, you’ve made a digital payment. These payments can take place online and in-person.
Before you pick a payment processor, find out what type of fees they charge. For example, the company may charge a monthly fee, per-transaction fee and statement fee.
Types of digital payment methods
As a business owner, you want to offer the payments that are the most popular with your consumers. Providing a variety of payment options will improve the user experience, and make it more likely your customers will continue doing business with you. Here are four digital payment trends you’ll want to know about.
1. Devices with biometric authentication
As digital payment methods increase, so does the need for security. Biometric authentication is a form of verification that uses fingerprint scanners, facial recognition, iris recognition, heartbeat analysis and vein mapping to prevent identity theft and fraud.
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Currently, many phones with digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay use fingerprint or facial recognition, but additional options are in the works. For instance, Visa is piloting a biometric payment card that will allow users to authenticate a transaction by touching a sensor on the card. Their fingerprint is used to verify that person’s identity instead of a PIN. As a business owner, you should protect your data and your customers’ information. Biometric authentication is a good way to achieve digital security.
2. Mobile point of sales (mPOS)
Convenient payment processing methods like mobile point of sales should be a top priority for businesses today. Mobile POS systems are tablets, smartphones or other wireless devices that use an app and a card reader to process payments as a cash register would.
This offers businesses the freedom to eliminate a central checkout area and accept payments from anywhere in their store, and even off-site. For example, you can bring your payment system to a trade show and other offsite locations without worrying about how you’ll carry out transactions. Customers can swipe their credit cards or debit cards using the card reader attached to your device and instantly make a purchase — it’s that simple.
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3. Smart speakers
Voice commands are no longer a futuristic concept. Through smart speakers such as Google Home, Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo, consumers can give a voice command to make an instant payment or purchase. In fact, 35 percent of users buy products like groceries and clothing through their smart speakers, said Statista.
Although some consumers are concerned about how secure this payment method is, it’s a growing payment trend nonetheless. With that in mind, it’s important to optimize your online store for voice search so your business is easily recognizable through tools like smart speakers. [Read related article: Should You Hire a Human or a Robot?]
4. Contactless payment
Various mobile payment apps allow users to transfer money, purchase products, and pay bills with the tap of a finger. By creating an account and storing your payment details in it, purchasing goods and services using a mobile phone is quick and easy.
Examples of this technology include Venmo (which is also useful for peer-to-peer payments), PayPal, Google Pay (previously known as Google Wallet), Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Allowing customers to make electronic payments with their digital wallet or other mobile payment apps is a convenience that can’t be matched.
There are costs involved with contactless payment methods. First, you will need to purchase card terminals that are enabled with near-field communication technology. There’s no fee to accept Apple Pay and Google Pay, but rates and fees apply when consumers use a credit card to pay for goods or services in your store.
Many consumers are turning to these methods because they feel contactless payments are a safer option — and quicker than counting out cash or swiping a card. They’re also much easier to access for the many consumers who perpetually have their phone in hand.
Contactless payments aren’t limited to mobile wallets. New credit cards are also equipped with the RFID technology used for contactless payments. Customers can simply hold their contactless credit card close to the card reader to send payment, rather than swiping their card, inserting it into a card reader, or tapping it against the terminal.
If your business processes a relatively low number of transactions each month, flat-rate pricing is likely your best bet. Interchange-plus pricing is best for the average business, and tiered pricing is appropriate for companies that usually accept debit card payments.
The best credit card processors for digital payments
Choosing the right credit card processor will make accepting a variety of payments easier. A credit card processor transfers the money out of the customer’s account and into the merchant’s account.
The best credit card processors have minimal fees and make getting paid easy. They should also have customer service available through multiple channels so you can always get help when you need it.
The payment processor you choose will depend on the type of business you run and what your specific needs are. For example, Clover is a great option thanks to its industry-specific POS tools and sleek hardware, while Merchant One has flexible pricing and its customers receive a dedicated account manager. Learn more in our review of Clover and our Merchant One review.
Jamie Johnson and Eran Feinstein contributed to this article.