CIO Symmetry

Aug 20 2013   6:49PM GMT

Small business trends: mPOS driven by consumerism

Emily McLaughlin Emily McLaughlin Profile: Emily McLaughlin

Want to know how mobility is influencing small business trends with regard to customer payments? The answer is at your fingertips — literally.

Arriving in email inboxes last week was an announcement from PayPal: “Your mobile card reader is Here.” PayPal’s new mobile card reader, PayPal Here, allows users such as retailers and restaurateurs to accept credit cards, checks and PayPal payments on their smartphones or tablet devices at 2.7% per swipe.

This isn’t exactly revolutionary. PayPal, an e-commerce business specializing in online transactions, wasn’t the first to jump on the mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) bandwagon. A number of card readers preceded the online payment giant in this arena, including Square, Intuit GoPayment, PayAnywhere and VeriFone PAYware Mobile e100.

And small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are no strangers to mPOS trends — many have been using auxiliary credit-card readers on their iPhones and tablets to conduct sales in-store or on-the-go for some time now. In fact, bring your own device and mPOS began in the SMB sphere when business-owners and employees, bound by budgetary constraints, decided to bring their own devices to work to facilitate business operations quickly and, they hoped, inexpensively. That included managing work emails on-the-go and downloading helpful applications and software to propel business forward.

So, what exactly is driving mPOS trends? If not the enterprise, then consumerism, maybe?

A 2012 McKinsey and Co. survey of 3,000 workers who use mobile devices for their job revealed approximately 80% of smartphones used at work are employee-owned. This is consistent with tablet use, as 67% of tablets used in the workplace are purchased by the employee, according to the survey. SMB owners and employees understand how mobile benefits their personal life, it seems, and then intelligently apply this knowledge to the business.

Consumers, meanwhile, are familiar with mobile payment initiatives. They’ve experienced mobile credit card readers in their local boutiques, or downloaded mobile payment apps created by retail giants like Starbucks Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. Inc. Therefore, shoppers who got last week’s email from PayPal probably let out an unimpressed sigh of “about time.”

As PayPal Here and other mPOS systems take steps toward literally putting the marketplace in the hands of retailers and restaurateurs, the march toward mobile-only continues as well – and some might say it’s accelerating to a gallop.

According to a 2011 Deloitte survey, “Cell me the money: Unlocking the value in the mobile payment ecosystem,” respondents reported a high focus on mobile payments in the following areas:

Retail: 53%
Fast food: 66%
Mass transit: 70%
Digital downloads: 47%
Parking: 45%

Where do you see a high focus on mPOS? Do you agree that enterprise organizations are not the driving force behind BYOD and other mobile trends? Sound off below.

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