Goodbye, cash and plastic credit cards. Hello, mobile payments.

When Apple launched Apple Pay in October 2014, it looked like the cashless society had arrived. Samsung Pay, Android Pay, Google Wallet and PayPal quickly launched similar mobile wallet services. While public acceptance of such mobile payments has been slower than expected, the service is catching on with retailers and consumers.

Industry experts believe mobile wallet payments will replace cash, debit and credit cards as the primary payment system for retailers in the next few years. Mobile payments can be used in-store and to make online and apps purchases. In-store mobile payment volume in the U.S. is expected to reach $503 billion by 2020.[1]

Mobile wallet payment services use near field communication (NFC), a contactless payment technology, to support transactions. Customers scan their credit card into their smartphones, then tap or wave their phones (or Apple Watch) near a point-of-sale (POS) terminal to pay.

Although initial consumer concerns have centered on security, mobile wallet services may be an effective way to reduce credit card fraud. Most models protect customer credit card numbers through tokenization, which replaces sensitive data with unique identification symbols. Many services require biometric verification such as fingerprints for security identification.

Despite initial security concerns and confusion about using the service, mobile payments are on the brink of widespread acceptance. The Nilson Report found the rate of acceptance among consumers for mobile payments has more than doubled in two years.[2] Millennials especially like the service for its convenience, speed and improved customer experience.

Accepting mobile wallet payments requires a POS system capable of processing an NFC transaction. This may entail working with a bank or payment processor to install a peripheral device to an existing POS payment terminal. Employees will need to be trained on using the new device and in helping customers complete transactions. It’s also important to advertise that your business accepts mobile wallet payments for the convenience of its customers.

[1] “Nearly half of millennials have used a mobile wallet,” Business Insider, Sept. 6, 2016. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/nearly-half-of-millennials-have-used-a-mobile-wallet-2016-9

[2] “Apple Pay Promised to Make Plastic Obsolete. Then Came Wary Shoppers, Confused Clerks,” by Tripp Mickle, The Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2017. Available at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-pay-promised-to-make-plastic-obsolete-then-came-wary-shoppers-confused-clerks-1491384606

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