Guest Column | July 12, 2013

Six Mistakes To Avoid With Mobile Payments

By Ed Weiser, Principal, Retail Solutions, Motorola Solutions

When your customers are ready to buy, they shouldn’t have to wait. You should be able to take their payment anywhere in the store. But are you ready for the challenges that provides? Here are six mistakes to avoid when deploying mobile payment solutions.

  1. Assuming It’s Simple - Payment choices and the complexity of processing those payments, as well as keeping them secure, are increasing at an accelerated pace.  Almost every month, we see a new consortium, startup company or payment tactic introduced to the marketplace.  By October 2015, we will have to comply with Eurocard, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) Chip and PIN payments in the United States. Meanwhile, some shoppers are viewing near field communication NFC as an exciting solution, but don’t really know when to use it, where it is accepted and more importantly, if it is secure.  As retailers begin to chart their own mobile payments roadmap, value-added resellers (VARs) and retailers will be forced to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of innovative solutions that are being introduced to the market at record speeds. 
  1. Limiting Choices for Shoppers - The right mobile payment strategy must start with how shoppers want to pay for any given transaction.  Different people will want to pay in different ways on different days for different reasons.  Some people will want to do everything from their smartphones while others will refuse to use their mobile devices for these transactions because they are skeptical about security. Many consumers will continue to alternate their payment methods to help with their personal budgeting and to manage loyalty accounts. For example, a student may use a debit card tied to her parents’ checking account, cash for ancillary items, or a private-label credit card tied to a loyalty program to obtain discounts.  Merchants must be prepared to offer all of these forms of payment all of the time, whether they are fixed or mobile transactions.
  1. Not Taking Cash Payments into Account – Yes, as mentioned above, there will always be shoppers that want to pay with cash.  Resellers will need to provide retailers with payment stations and cash drawers for these customers.  To date, we have not seen retailers provide fully-mobile cash payment solutions due to security and logistical concerns.  One key point is to ensure that the mobile point of sale (MPOS) transaction, the mobile payment transaction, and the stationary cash drawer are completely synchronized.  No retailer wants a cash drawer on the other side of the store popping open by mistake.  To avoid this, resellers can recommend “scan-and–pair” functionality where a bar code on the cash drawer is scanned for each cash tendering transaction that is processed. And cash drawers may be assigned to a single associate or a group of associates for added security and accountability.
  1. Relying on Current PCI Certification to Keep Data Safe – Payment card industry (PCI) standards for mobile payment are constantly evolving. As mobile payments continue to proliferate, they will become attractive targets for data thieves and scam artists.  Resellers need to communicate to retailers that merely having a PCI certificate does not ensure the safety of cardholder data.  We’ve all seen cases where merchants were PCI-compliant until they had a breach, and the breach became proof that they were not compliant, or as compliant as they could be.
  1. Forgetting About Receipts - Electronic receipts sound simple until a shopper refuses to give you their email address or doesn’t feel comfortable leaving the store without a paper receipt.  Many localities require paper receipts to at least be offered, and some require that they be printed.  Mobile printers can be part of the solution, but they also increase complexity.  Some retailers are having success with small footprint “finishing stations” where they start transactions in the aisle, then move to one of several dispersed locations to accept payment, print receipts, remove security tags and bag the purchase.
  1. Not Treating it as a Strategic Part of a Loyalty Program - Mobile payment can be a key part of a retailer’s loyalty program, especially when combined with a mobile wallet solution.  This can create stickiness, demonstrate innovation and increase convenience for customers.   Customers who integrate mobile payment with a mobile loyalty application will appreciate the ease of combining loyalty points with wallet dollars and shopping history. The benefit for retailers is a more holistic view of the customer and can facilitate more seamless integration between online and in-store touch points.