Should Your Restaurant Accept Mobile Payments?

By business.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Apr 07, 2020
Image Credit: Chainarong Prasertthai / Getty Images

If you're unsure whether you should accept mobile payments because of security concerns, cost of adoption, or you're worried customers won't use it, you're not alone in your hesitation.

  • Mobile payments are an emerging type of technology that allows customers to pay for things such as gas, groceries and more.
  • Some pros of accepting mobile payments at restaurants are that payments are fast and easy, relatively secure, they do not require the use of a wallet or physical types of currency, and they are highly conducive to rewards programs, which can also help drive business.
  • Some cons of accepting mobile payments are privacy issues and not all mobile carriers support mobile payments.

We live in the future now. You can tell a smart home device to open your garage door or turn on the lights in your home with your voice or your smartphone. Similarly, you can pay for gas, groceries or a meal out from your mobile device. It's instant, therefore convenient. But for many, it's still just a cool concept.

For most businesses, the decision as to whether or not to accept mobile payments is an easy one. Small retail businesses, food trucks and Uber drivers would offer a quick yes in response to that question. However, if you're unsure of whether you should accept mobile payments because of security concerns, cost of adoption or you're worried your customers simply won't use it, then you're not alone in your hesitation.

Despite big names behind the mobile payment movement, such as Apple, Google, and Walmart, consumers are slow to use the technology at brick-and-mortar businesses regularly. A recent study by Forrester Research showed that by 2019, only 1% of consumer spending would be through mobile payments – that's the total of in-person, online and peer-to-peer shopping and payments.

The benefits of mobile payments are becoming more apparent to consumers. In a study by the Pew Research Center, 42% of respondents said they believe mobile payment is faster, and 38% said it's easier than other payment methods. The two biggest roadblocks for mobile payments today are security concerns and consumers not being informed enough. The same Pew study cited above reported that only 9% of those surveyed believe paying with a smartphone is a safer method than others.

Pros and cons of mobile payments in restaurants

If you are wondering about the pros and cons of accepting mobile payments in restaurants, they are as follows.

Pros

  • Fast and easy: As mentioned previously, 42% of those surveyed said they believe that mobile payments are faster, while 38% said it was the easiest payment method.

  • Relatively secure: According to Deal News, one of the benefits of accepting mobile payments is that they are relatively secure. While there is no such as a foolproof payment system, mobile payments are considered to have a good level of security. Although credit card payments have a good level of security, mobile payments are often considered more secure, because they typically require a password of biometric to access them.

  • No wallet necessary: Although customers occasionally leave their wallets behind, it is far less common for them to leave their phones. Therefore, this makes mobile payments a convenient option for both customers and restaurants.

  • Reward programs: Mobile payments and rewards programs often go hand in hand. By accepting mobile payments, this allows companies to not only offer mobile apps, but you can also send out coupons, promotions, reward points, etc., which can boost sales and encourage customers to become more loyal to your company over time.

Cons

  • Lack of privacy: One major con of accepting mobile payments is that they are easier to track. Despite the fact that they are relatively secure, the mere fact that mobile payments are easier to track makes some customers more leery of using mobile payments out of the fear of potential hackers.

  • Not supported by all mobile phones: Another major con of accepting mobile payments is that not all mobile phones have this capacity. Therefore, some customers may become frustrated that they cannot participate in this method of payment, receive reward points, etc.

Demographics of a mobile payment user

Mobile payment users are overwhelmingly millennials or Gen Xers – 72 % of the total, according to the Pew Research Center study. These younger users (ages 18 to 50 years) are quicker to adopt new technologies than older generations, and they're typically more comfortable with technology. Generally, adopters live in metropolitan areas and have college degrees.

If your restaurant sees this type of crowd, then accepting mobile payments may be a good choice for your business. You can't expect your customers to demand that you accept mobile payments, though, because they're still used to pulling out a debit or credit card to pay for meals.

Security concerns

Consumers are acutely aware of how easily their sensitive information can be compromised, so they're more cautious than ever. While many mobile payment users are excited about the technology and incentives, such as rewards and discounts, they're hesitant, too.

Some mobile payments are using the near field communication (NFC) chip technology, which offers a higher level of security because no card information is exchanged. This eliminates many fraud concerns.

Adopting the technology

To begin accepting mobile payments, your restaurant needs an NFC system, which allows your reader and a customer's mobile phone to communicate through touch. A token of data is transferred and the payment is made. The NFC technology is somewhat costly compared to barcode or QR code payment processing, which you can set up through almost any point-of-sale system. Eventually, though, mobile payments will become the norm and likely more affordable, so adopting the technology early is a good idea.

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff
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