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How Mobile Payments Work and Which Features You Should Look for

ByMark London, writer
May 14, 2019
> Technology

Learn the basics of shopping for credit card processors.

A truly reliable payment solution empowers businesses to accept payments in person, online and anywhere their business takes them. That's why mobile payments are becoming an increasingly attractive option for businesses of all sizes, industries and locations.

In the following overview, you'll learn how mobile payments work, what key features you should look for and how to start using mobile payments and see the benefits for yourself. 

How do mobile payments work?

To accept payments via a mobile payment solution, you need three things:

  • A mobile smartphone or tablet
  • A mobile payment app
  • A card reader

A mobile point of sale, also known as an mPOS, is the app that enables you to quickly and securely accept payments from any smartphone or tablet. To get started, just download a mobile app, plug in the card reader (or use Bluetooth), connect to a WiFi or data network and you’re ready to start accepting mobile payments. 

Editor's note: Need a credit card processor for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.


You can't accept payments without a card reader. Here are the two most common card reader options:

  • Mobile card reader that connects to a phone or tablet via audio jack
  • Mobile card reader that connects to a phone or tablet via Bluetooth

Card readers also have different levels of compatibility with cards. With some readers, you can swipe and dip EMV credit and debit cards. Some let you accept NFC payments, also known as contactless payments, in addition to EMV credit and debit cards. That means you'll be able to accept Apple Pay, Google Pay and other contactless credit card payments in the palm of your hand. 

What key features should you look for when selecting a mobile payment solution?

The features that matter most for your business depend on how you need to take payments, so look for features that are vital to your specific industry vertical. For example, tip adjustment is crucial for any food and beverage or salon and beauty business. [Editor's note: Looking for the best mobile credit card processor for your business? Check our list of best picks.]

The following seven mobile payment features should have your business covered no matter what industry you’re in:

  • History screen with transaction status, transaction number, date and time and full refunds
  • Email or text e-receipts
  • Electronic signature with adjustable requirements
  • Customizable sales tax on a per-item basis
  • Inventory management with sellable item details like price, quantity on-hand and taxability
  • Tip adjustment (if needed)
  • Offline mode to capture swiped or keyed payments without an internet connection or cell reception

Why should you use mobile payments at your business?

Not only are mobile payments convenient, but, unlike a traditional POS system, mobile payments don't require a large investment, and they come with a low learning curve. Mobile payments take only a few seconds to complete, meaning you can help the next customer faster.

Mobile payments also have multiple layers of dynamic encryption, making them an extremely secure way to pay. More so, if you choose a processing partner that supports EMV for mobile payments, you can protect yourself from fraud and chargebacks that you may otherwise be liable for due to the 2015 EMV liability shift. In 2017, chargebacks cost issuers and merchants $31 billion combined, with two-thirds of this falling on the shoulders of merchants like you.

Finally, a mobile payment solution empowers you to accept credit and debit card payments, track cash payments, provide light inventory management and real-time sales reporting, all in the palm of your hand.

How can you make the move to mobile payments?

Most merchants can benefit from a mobile payments consultation – which is typically free – to make sure that mobile payments have the right price point, features and functionality for your business type. A payment expert can also answer any of your questions on mobile credit card processing. They should also provide you with a free savings analysis if you already accept credit and debit card payments.

Mobile payments are a cost-effective solution for millions of small and mid-sized businesses. Have you been looking for ways to stay ahead of the competition and grow your business? Mobile payments could give you the affordability, convenience and flexibility you're searching for.

Mark London
Mark London
See Mark London's Profile
EVP Sales & Marketing for TransNational Payments. TransNational Payments is a payment processing company focused on using technology to enable our merchants and customers to drive efficiency, compliance and savings.
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