Mobile
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5/21/2009
09:50 AM
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Take Credit Card Payments On Your Phone With Intuit GoPayment

For today's mobile businesses, accepting payment from any location at any time is crucial to maintaining cash flow and increasing business -- cash only doesn't cut it anymore. A new offering from Intuit offers businesses another option for taking payment via mobile phones (and not just smartphones).

For today's mobile businesses, accepting payment from any location at any time is crucial to maintaining cash flow and increasing business -- cash only doesn't cut it anymore. A new offering from Intuit offers businesses another option for taking payment via mobile phones (and not just smartphones).If your business has only fixed point-of-sale locations with wired access or only takes online or phone orders, stop reading now -- you don't need this product. However, if your business has a need to process payments in multiple, changing locations, you might want to check out a new offering from Intuit: GoPayment. It allows you to accept payment by credit card using a mobile phone.

For businesses that take payment in the field, this has significant potential to save you time and money. For contractors such as plumbers, painters, and electricians, and businesses that set up temporary locations (think outdoor events such as street festivals and farmer's market), GoPayment may be a preferable option to the common methods for taking payment: 1) using one of those credit card impression machines; 2) writing down a customer's credit card number on a piece of paper; or 3) calling in a credit card number to the main office for authorization. And it stands to be cheaper than bucking up to purchase a wireless credit card terminal.

Take credit card payment on a phone! That's genius. Why didn't someone think of this sooner. Guess what, someone did. A quick check of the iPhone App Store turned up 9 credit card terminal apps.

So Intuit isn't first to the game here, but there's more to this game than breaking first out of the gate. For starters GoPayment works on smartphones (just like those others in the app store), but it will also work on non-smartphone that have Web access (see here from list of supported mobile devices). That's significant when you consider the cost of equipping your business with smartphones -- not an extra expense you want when you're trying to trim your mobile phone costs, not increase them. Consider that AT&T claims to be selling smartphones at twice the rate of any other carrier and still only 32% of its 78 million wireless customers has a smartphone -- we have some distance to go before reaching ubiquity.

The other appeal of an Intuit offering is the integration with QuickBooks and the offer of a complete merchant processing solution. There's a $59.95 one-time merchant account setup fee and then GoPayment costs $19.95 per month with transaction fees ranging from 1.64% to 3.54%. No contract or penalty for cancellation. The smartphone application itself is free and you only need one merchant account per business, not per user. You can also purchase a Bluetooth enabled credit card swiper for $144.95 or a card swiper with a receipt printer for $218.95.

For a year, GoPayment will cost your business about $300 plus fees on each transaction. Is it worth that for the convenience of accepting payments on the go? According to Intuit's "Getting Paid" survey (MS Word doc) it is. The key pain point in the survey findings was that the 22 million U.S. small businesses average $1,500 in overdue payments each month -- that totals $33 billion -- meaning that speeding payment would have notable impact on cash flow. Marrying that delayed payment data with the fact that 40% of those surveyed saw an increase in sales after offering customers the option to pay by credit card and 33% said they were paid faster when accepting credit cards and the argument for plastic -- and processing that plastic right now -- becomes stronger.

Intuit's Associate Product Manager Eric Kowalchyk ran a demo for me using a BlackBerry simulator and the interface is so basic that it's hard to imagine anything other than fumble fingers causing issues. And the option to send an e-mail or text receipt is nothing if not good customer relations -- I received an email confirmation of my text transaction within a few seconds complete with a phone number and contact information from the pseudo company Eric set up to demo.

For business owners, the dashboard for managing GoPayment has a familiar QuickBooks look to it. From the dashboard, you can view all users, transactions, status, and -- importantly -- you can shut down individual users with seconds if a phone goes missing or an employee quits.

More details about the service are available at the GoPayment site.

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