Payment methods such as debit and credit cards, digital wallets and other contactless methods have taken precedence over cash in recent years. This change in the way consumers prefer to spend money is forcing many businesses to rethink the payment options they provide for their customers. While going cashless may seem like a big jump, it will be largely rewarding and is likely to attract more business in the long run.
Electronic payment expert on the benefits of going cashless
As the former CEO of the Electronic Transactions Association and current CEO of the Information Technology Council, Jason Oxman knows more than most about the changing payment preferences of consumers. Oxman also served as a senior vice president with the Consumer Technology Association.
We had the chance to speak with Oxman about the electronic payment industry, how the marketplace has changed and its future trajectory. In addition, we asked him some rapid-fire questions about technology, his career and the advice he has received over the years.
Q: Some businesses have already stopped accepting cash. Do you see this trend continuing?
A: Going cashless is becoming increasingly popular among small and medium business owners who want to streamline their checkout experience, reduce the risks and costs associated with accepting cash and provide payment options that best fit the needs of their customers.
I believe this trend will continue as options like mobile payments and contactless cards approach ubiquity. Ultimately, owners should prioritize the wants and needs of their customers when considering payment options.
Q: When accepting cashless payments, what steps should businesses take to ensure they are keeping their customers’ information safe and secure?
A: Protecting customer data is of extreme importance to merchants and their payments industry partners. Regardless of individual options, payment technology companies prioritize data security, so making sure you’re up-to-date on your merchant service provider’s security offerings can help business owners stay protected from the threat of fraud.
The acceptance of EMV chip card payments is an important step for a business to fight fraud. Chip cards contain advanced technology that protects consumer information during a transaction, plus they protect merchants from counterfeit card fraudsters. Additionally, businesses should invest in point-to-point encryption in their payment systems, which secures sensitive customer information from the threat of a breach.
Accepting payments from mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay also gives consumers the safest and most secure way to pay as well, through the tokenization of sensitive data and requiring a unique biometric key like a fingerprint to authenticate the transaction.
Q: Have chip cards and card readers made paying by credit card a more secure process?
A: EMV cards are exceptionally secure against being copied, making it virtually impossible for a fraudster to use a copy of a card at a merchant that accepts chip payments. Each time the card is dipped into a terminal, the chip on the card transmits a one-time code to the terminal; without that code, the card data is useless.
Consumers are always protected from liability when their payment information is used in a fraudulent purchase.
Q: Venmo offers business-specific payment tools. Do you see these types of payments becoming more common for retailers to offer? Do you see other types of online payment options expanding to in-store retailers?
A: Venmo is a verb in the modern lexicon. Most Americans have more money in their PayPal wallet than cash in their physical wallet. Having an omnichannel strategy – one that captures as many potential ways to pay offline and online – is critical to merchants and their payment technology providers. Merchants benefit when consumers have options, so I expect that we’ll continue to see online payment solutions apply to brick-and-mortar commerce and vice versa.
Q: Are businesses that don’t accept alternative payment options, like Apple Pay and other contactless payments, hurting their chances of increasing their customer base?
A: Absolutely. A business doesn’t just lose potential users of mobile wallets by not providing them their preferred option, they are also losing out on other benefits to their business. Users of mobile wallets tend to spend more than non-wallet users; plus, mobile wallets give merchants an opportunity to integrate things like loyalty programs, rewards and coupons into the payments experience.
Q: How can businesses best learn about the different payment options their customers prefer?
A: Business owners should talk to their payments partners – specifically their acquirer or their acquirer’s sales representative. Payments technology companies are investing billions of dollars in providing solutions to their merchants that drive sales and maximize security at an affordable price. ETA also offers resources to merchants about modern payments technology.
Q: How are cashless payments impacting the way businesses are run? For example, with the introduction of self-checkout, are fewer cashiers being hired?
A: Cashless payments primarily lower the costs of cash handling and the risk of loss that are inherent in cash payments, like transportation and theft. There are too many variables involved to accurately estimate whether stores are hiring fewer staff members as a result of transitioning to cashless payments.
While high-tech cashierless stores capture headlines, for most businesses, the biggest change that accepting cashless payments, such as contactless cards, mobile payments and chip cards, brings is the chance to offer more payment options and drive sales.
Q: What is the best piece of career advice you have ever been given?
A: I learned when I first came to work in Washington, D.C., in the 1990s that although you may be on the opposite side of an issue or a business matter or a political battle today, you may be on the same side with that very party tomorrow. It’s always a good idea to disagree respectfully and focus on facts – it makes for better debates, and it also keeps the door open for future opportunities.
Q: What’s the biggest mistake you have made?
A: Trying to change too much too quickly when coming on board in a new organization. Even though I may think something is being done suboptimally, things may have been done the same way for a long time for a reason. I’ve learned that it’s important to pause and understand the history and the dynamics before making a change.
Q: What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken professionally? Did it pay off?
A: I made the leap from being a “real” lawyer to the world of trade associations, where I was able to engage in new areas of business that challenged me to expand my skills and take risks in my career path. It led me to my first trade association CEO position, which has been the best job of my entire career – so it definitely paid off.
The best credit card processor for your business will depend on its size, the features you need and your budget.
The best credit card processors for going cashless
Businesses of all sizes will enjoy Merchant One, a processor with a 98% approval rate. Its flexible pricing plans are beneficial because they’re based on qualifications such as industry and business size. Merchant One provides an entire POS system with terminals and credit card readers, high-speed processing, e-commerce programming and the ability to set up marketing campaigns. Its 24/7 customer support is available for help throughout the implementation process. Learn more in our full review of Merchant One.
Restaurants looking for credit card processors should consider Clover due to its online ordering capabilities for customers, integration with DoorDash and over 500 other third-party apps, and the ability to collect customer feedback. Clover has a full-featured POS system with hardware that allows merchants to accept various payments, conduct sales, manage inventory and organize staff. Its POS system is accessible on the mobile app, as well as the virtual terminal. Learn more in our Clover review.
Small to midsize businesses looking to manage expenses, receive detailed reports to help maximize efficiency, and manage customer data should consider Stax. Merchants can track new and returning customers, calculate customer lifetime value, and enable e-commerce invoice payments. Stax offers subscription-based pricing plans ranging from $99 to $199 per month. Each plan has a processing rate of 0% plus $0.08 above interchange or 0% plus $0.15 above interchange, depending on how the payment is conducted. Learn more in our review of Stax by Fattmerchant.
When merchants sign up for Square, they get a free POS app, free digital gift cards and access to hundreds of third-party apps. Features also include customer and employee management, appointment scheduling and e-commerce integration. Square is the simplest credit card processor, with no monthly fees added on. However, for $15 to $35 per month, merchants can choose to include email marketing integration, text message marketing, coupon redemption and marketing reports. Learn more in our review of Square.
Some notable features of Helcim’s software are inventory, customer and employee management, a free hosted online store, and custom QR codes. Its software can be installed on laptops, computers and tablets to create a full-featured POS system that supports various types of payment methods. It also gives merchants the ability to cancel their contract at any time with no termination fee. One small drawback to Helcim is it won’t accept high-risk businesses. Learn more in our Helcim review.