In the next five years, nearly nine out of 10 point-of-sale terminals in North America will accept mobile payments, according to the research firm Berg Insight. The market for POS terminals equipped with near-field communications technology “grew fiercely” in 2011, with annual shipments doubling to some 2.5 million units worldwide.
Given the surprising number and variety of businesses that already accept credit card payments, the potential for reaching customers by enabling mobile transactions is enormous. That said, you don’t need a costly POS terminal to cater to the mobile crowd — in fact, small businesses can save money by using a smartphone-enabled app like GoPayment in place of full-fledged terminals.
Here are five examples of establishments that could attract clients and reduce their overhead by making the switch.
1. Laundromats — Imagine never having to save quarters to do laundry ever again. Many self-serve laundry facilities are eschewing coin slots and change machines in favor of card readers and point-of-sale credit card processors. Some washers and dryers have individual POS readers on them, but the most common arrangement is for users to have balance-enabled “laundry cards” that can be inserted into laundry machines. Customers add to their balances using their credit card at a centralized kiosk.
2. National parks — It seems counter-intuitive that areas where you can go to escape modern technology are actively embracing state-of-the-art automated systems. But that’s precisely the case at many of America’s national parks, which employ POS systems to accept credit and debit cards at entry gates and parking lots. In fact, one sign at Grand Canyon National Park actually reads, “Credit/Debit Cards Preferred.”
3. School cafeterias. Many parents are no longer worrying about digging out lunch money for their kids on a daily basis. Some school lunchrooms have instituted a POS system that allows students to enter a passcode on a keypad to pay for their meals. Not only does this offer convenience for students, but it allows parents to add funds to their children’s accounts electronically. Perhaps most importantly, the system’s software records everything the kid purchases, so Mom and Dad can see whether Junior is eating his vegetables or filling up on junk food.
4. Catering trucks. Nowadays, grabbing a taco, hot dog, or cup of coffee on the street corner often doesn’t require you to root through your pockets or purse for cash. Many mobile food vendors are employing POS systems to attract a wider customer base. While some vendors use traditional POS card readers, many more are embracing mobile payments devices and accepting credit card payments on their smartphones.
5. Flea markets and garage sales. Small vendors are realizing that they can appeal to a larger number of buyers if they can permit customers to pay for purchases on credit (especially merchants who sell large items like furniture or rare collectibles). And with the emergence of mobile payments providers, people who set up shop at swap meats or flea markets (or even individuals who hold regular garage or estate sales) are jumping on the POS bandwagon.