Chipped cards & the new mobile payment plan

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eric aune 2As your business expands, one important way to build customer loyalty is to be able to readily accept payment from customers via whatever means they prefer to pay. Given how quickly the payments universe is expanding, that may seem like a daunting proposition, but in fact there’s an easy solution.

Typically plumbing and HVAC service companies will offer on-the-spot billing via either a printed [on the truck] invoice or a hand written version, think carbon copy triplicate form. The use of mobile device card processing has risen significantly over the last three years and is continuing to gain ground however with the advent of “chip cards” or credit/debit cards with embedded microchips which add another layer of security, processing credit while on site will change soon because the now “old” card swipe fobs will no longer work. So what are we supposed to do?

For now our options are somewhat limited; it seems that cash (or check, of course) is king as usual but delayed invoicing may be the route for many. Currently just about anyone can afford to sign up to accept card payments with very little effort and absolutely no expense except for fees based on usage. Compare that to old school traditional merchant account setup that could take weeks, cost hundreds of dollars up front, and then come with monthly fees of $40 or more even if no transactions are processed, alongside hefty early termination fees.

While I don’t have exact numbers, I can tell you with absolute certainty that production of chip card readers is much more expensive than magnetic stripe card readers, especially considering that chip card readers, for the most part, will still need to support mag stripe cards. The production cost is increased so much, in fact, that Square charges about $30 for it’s current chip card reader – a steep rise from the formerly free reader it will replace. The company’s new NFC-capable chip card reader will retail for $50, but certain merchants may qualify for a free reader (depending on processing volume and business type), while others who pre-order may qualify for a $50 statement credit, according to info obtained on Square’s website.

The fact remains, many service contractors will not be able to receive a free EMV chip card reader from Square, or anywhere else, at least not without paying a monthly fee. It would simply be too risky and expensive for these companies to ship out chip card readers to merchants who may not even process a single transaction.

But merchants who don’t want to shell out $30 to $60 for a reader are not out of luck. As always, users can key-in card information without any reader at all. The downside to this is that keyed-in transactions are more prone to holds, and they generally cost more to process. I also expect that we will see more camera scanning functionality implemented, like what Flint uses, which will at least make the keying-in process quicker and easier.

As technology continues to advance and more buyers are demanding multiple forms of payment options contractors billing on site will have to change payment acceptance. I hope this has been useful, I know the topic is something I deal with every month as I sit go through my books. I get asked about different forms of payment often and as of now my only offerings are cash, check or credit while onsite. I can always bill via electronic invoice with a payment link but prefer my money before I back down the driveway.

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