Guest Post: Should Restaurants Offer Mobile Payments?
Some consider mobile payments the wave of the future in many industries, and as a restaurant owner or manager, you may have taken notice. Mobile payment methods for restaurants vary, but some of the most popular involve a card reader that attaches to a mobile phone or tablet computer and an accompanying app that when combined, act as a POS system. There is also the “phone-as-your-wallet” method, in which credit card information is stored on customers’ phones and used as a method of payment.
When it comes to considering mobile payments, you may be looking for lower credit card processing rates or added card security, or you may just be intrigued by the inherent convenience of mobile payments. Regardless of your reason for consideration, here is a look at the pros and cons of offering your dining patrons the option of mobile payments.
The Pros of Mobile Payments
Like many restaurant owners and managers, you probably feel the sting of credit card rates and fees. If you don’t accept credit cards, maybe you’ve decided that the fees aren’t worth the added patronage of non-cash-carrying customers. Either way, you may want to examine the fees associated with accepting mobile payments.
Processing fees for mobile payments are often much less than standard credit card processing fees. This can eliminate high rates as a barrier to entry for restaurants that don’t currently accept credit cards. Furthermore, implementing a system that accepts mobile payments is usually a low-cost investment.
Mobile payments also offer measures of convenience for you and your patrons. With mobile payment technology, credit cards can be run at the table, right when the bill arrives. If your establishment is a fast food or carryout restaurant, simply implementing mobile payments can quicken the process. If you really want to streamline things, you can implement kiosks with tablet computers that can take orders, and mobile card readers that can process credit cards. This approach saves both time and labor.
With the right measures in place, mobile payments can provide more security than conventional payment methods. Mobile devices are capable of providing authentication capabilities that existing POS systems and older methods can’t. Magnetic-strip machines (traditional credit card-readers) are now considered unsecure when it comes to hacking and data security. Stealing information from cellphones and tablet securities is significantly more difficult, thanks to safeguards such as encrypted passwords and embedded computer chips.
Mobile payments also open the door for targeted marketing and integrated incentive programs as part of your mobile and traditional marketing strategies. This can be incredibly effective if done properly.
The Cons of Mobile Payments
There are reasons, on the other hand, that many restaurateurs haven’t adopted mobile payments. When it comes to available services, none offer a truly comprehensive solution. Most offerings have at least one major flaw, and no clear leader has emerged in the industry.
There is also little demand for mobile as a payment option from a large majority of restaurant customers. While your customers may see you as trendy or technologically savvy if you start accepting mobile payments, they probably never even knew it was an option to begin with. Your patrons probably aren’t that likely to try it once you’ve introduced it as an option, either.
Despite the security measures that mobile payments add when it comes to the protection of credit card data, there are still lingering questions. Current Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) guidelines do not specifically cover mobile payments, which is a contributing factor to these doubts. Perceivably, this lack of control could expose you to hackers, digital theft and malware. Despite this, most mobile payment methods are just as secure as traditional credit card transactions, often protected by the same provisions that make traditional systems PCI compliant.
Do the pros outweigh the cons? Credit cards are already pretty convenient; do you need to process them on a cell phone or tablet computer? The answer to these questions and the decision to invest in accepting mobile payments is up to you, and often depends on the type of restaurant you want to run. Thankfully, the cost of integration is low. After all, mobile payments may be the future of dining. What better way to find out?
Author Bio: Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, payment-processing company for restaurants. She brings more than 15 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company and also serves on its Board of Directors