As advancements in technology continue to create a culture of convenience, payment methods are evolving to stay on trend. Innovative solutions that allow consumers to make fast, safe and simple purchases through smartphones and tablets are changing the way people buy, sell and do business.
Not only has the growth of mobile point-of-sale technology made it easier for large retailers to expand their customer bases, but it’s also positively influenced small business, often called “micro merchants.” According to PayPal director Chris Morse, mPOS solutions have increased the opportunity for small-scale sellers without brick-and-mortar businesses to take in more profits.
Many mPOS users, Morse explained, are micro merchants whose profits come primarily from shipping products out of their homes. These types of retailers often seek brand exposure and additional income by selling their creations at pop-up style events like craft fairs and flea markets.
“Traditionally, you see folks like a T-shirt maker at farmers markets, you see them in those types of environments. And we want to take that and those merchants who are traditionally online and move them to accept payments anywhere,” he explained.
In the past, taking a business on the road meant merchants could exclusively accept cash payments, closing them off from a large population of card-carrying consumers. With mPOS solutions, such as PayPal’s Here card reader, sellers can harness the power of their mobile devices and create retail opportunities wherever, whenever.
Morse doesn’t just tout mPOS capabilities theoretically. He’s seen firsthand how the solutions allow organizations of all kinds, including nonprofits, to increase revenue.
“There was a nonprofit in my town selling cookies. And I had no cash,” he explained. The group did have access to a mPOS reader, however, which allowed Morse to purchase three boxes for himself, while also giving back to a good cause. Without mPOS technology, he noted, “that wouldn’t have happened – they wouldn’t have made that $15.”
Even when sellers aren’t conveniently equipped with card readers, Morse has been successful in donating to nonprofits using mPOS solutions.
“I remember at the same location where I bought the cookies, there was someone accepting payments for sports for troubled youth – they were raising money for uniforms, and raising money to reserve fields and such. And I didn’t have cash … but, they were able to accept payments on the iPhone. And I thought about that for a second as I drove away … ‘that’s amazing. Ten years ago that would not have been possible.’”
Because of mPOS technology’s versatility and rapid pace of growth, it’s more than just a way for micro merchants to jumpstart their businesses – it’s a reliable support structure that can expand as operations grow.
“Now a lot of these merchants are what we consider micro merchants … they don’t necessarily accept payments as a core function of their business, and they’re not traditionally driving huge volumes. But they do want to enable commerce and accept payments. So by working with them directly, that’s like step one of the PayPal evolution. If they continue to grow their business, then we can help them expand by introducing them to our partners to expand their payment capabilities. Like acquirers, software partners, technologies companies, etcetera,,” Morse noted.
While a micro merchant may seek a simple mPOS system to process basic payments during its startup phase, the company will inevitably require more sophisticated solutions as business picks up. An increase in consumer demand exacerbates the need for technology that is NFC, chip and PIN enabled, so that merchants can accept payments from more buyers at more locations.
Keeping up with progress has continuously been a top priority for PayPal, whose mPOS solutions have evolved alongside other payment-related trends and technologies. The company strives to empower merchants and consumers to accept or make sales in all types of environments – and with all types of cutting-edge methods. As payment possibilities expand, so too does PayPal, though only in terms of its offerings – its fundamental business mindset remains steadfast.
According to Morse, mPOS solutions have the ability to create mutually beneficial relationships between providers and merchants, as improvements to the technology strengthens both sides of the partnership.
“As a PayPal customer, you can get access to a whole suite of products and existing partnerships we already have by working with PayPal … we want merchants to grow, it’s no secret. When merchants grow, it drives their bottom line, they become great customers, and it works well for us as well,” he said.
When it comes to predicting what’s next in the world of mPOS, the possibilities are essentially endless. While right now the focus is on adding incentives for consumers and integrating supplementary commerce features, the industry’s goals will likely be even more ambitious in just a few years.
Morse alluded to Uber, the popular ride-sharing app, as an example of how mobile solutions have the unique ability to advance at the same rate as the technologies they inhabit.
“Right now I’d say loyalty, offers and rewards [are what’s next for mPOS], but there could be something else, who knows what it could be? Ten years ago did you think you’d be able to flag a car, a black car, with your phone? And it would find you where you were standing in the middle of the street?”
As mobile technology continues to evolve, so too does the ubiquity of mPOS programs. The widespread use of these solutions among small-scale merchants and nonprofit organizations will only continue to strengthen their popularity, and ultimately influence their progress. The mPOS industry remains focused on the technology’s potential, imagining and developing new ways mPOS can empower merchants and consumers anywhere, anytime.
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About The Tracker
The PYMNTS mPOS Tracker™ is your go-to resource for staying up to date on a month-by-month basis. The tracker highlights the contribution of different stakeholders, including institutions and technology coming together to make this happen.