Tuesday, 02 December 2014 14:13

How to accept electronic payments

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For small businesses, the internet has proved to be a great levelling ground, making winning custom less about size and brand power, and more about simply topping the search results.

But as more people prefer to pay remotely for goods and services, are small businesses at risk of losing custom - or worse, going unpaid for work done - due to their lack of good electronic payments technology?

Up until now, this may have been the case, but in 2014 everything is changing, and there is no longer any excuse for small businesses to have inflexible payment methods.

Here are just some of the reasons why this is true, and why the average man or woman on the street now carries a barcode scanner and remote banking terminal with them wherever they go.

Zapper

Zapper is a QR recognition app for scanning Quick Response codes - those blotchy square black and white barcodes you see everywhere now.

But with Zapper Scan-to-Pay, users can scan a QR code on an invoice, and be directed to a payment page where they can use their preferred credit or debit card to complete the transaction.

Small businesses get a single QR code to print on all of their invoices, while big firms can generate unique codes for different invoices - either way, there's only a small transaction fee to pay.

PayPalpayment

PayPal is already a commonly used online alternative to electronic funds transfers, allowing money to be sent simply using an email address.

But PayPal Here extends this to allow businesses to accept debit and credit card payments, issue invoices and electronic receipts, and log cash sales.

There's a one-off £99 fee for the card reader itself, and a small transaction fee thereafter, but it's still a good option to enable immediate payment via a Chip and PIN card.

Paym

Apparently pronounced 'pay em', Paym is due for an April 29th 2014 launch date and allows British banking customers to send and receive payments just using their mobile number.

The nine initially participating banks are Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Cumberland Building Society, Danske Bank, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Santander and TSB Bank.

Current accountholders with these banks should be able to register their mobile phone to link it with their account - and thereafter, payments sent to that phone number via Paym will arrive directly into their account.

Paym is free (not including any charges for your bank's smartphone app or data fees during use) and payments can be sent without the need to register, making it potentially very useful indeed for the smallest businesses and sole traders.

Zapp

From Zapper to Zapp - which, yes, is a totally different thing (2014 could get pretty confusing before it's over...).

Zapp seems likely to be one of the major players in mobile payments, with the support of several of the banks, including HSBC, first direct, Nationwide, Metro Bank, Santander, WorldPay, Sage Pay, Realex Payments and Optimal Payments.

It's got funky marketing materials showing people spending thousands of pounds via their phone in a single day (and we're not talking about in-app purchases made by the toddler).

But most of all, it looks versatile, easy to use and suitable for any size of business - making this one of the big contenders in what is likely to be a transformational year for mobile payments.

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Image "Payment" by flickr user GotCredit is licensed under the CC BY 2.0