We’re living in a fascinating time for accepting payments. From cryptocurrency to selfie payments, the 21st century is not lacking in payment innovation.
But what does this mean for business owners? Quite frankly, it means you need to get it together. If you’re still only accepting cash or checks, you’re likely leaving a lot of money on the table.
Here are all the ways business owners can accept payments in the 21st century. Ideally, business owners should move to have a mix of all of these forms.
Although we may be moving away from cash, it’s still king in a lot of ways.
Just look at real-estate. There’s no way people can compete when investors are swooping up properties with cash offers.
And, depending on who your customer demographics are, they may prefer to use cash over other systems of payment. There’s also the added benefit of not having to worry about transaction fees for accepting payments.
The downside of cash is that it gets easily lost or mishandled in accounting. Let’s face it, it’s way easier to handle numbers that just appear on a screen.
Additionally, research shows that most people still prefer cards as a preferred method of payment because it helps them build their credit, they get points or they just never have cash on them.
Check are another way of accepting payments that have similar pros and cons to cash.
In terms of extra pros, there’s a paper trail when checks are used. Additionally, when working with large corporations or more traditional companies, they’re accounting departments may still be paying vendors with checks for whatever reason.
And, of course, now you can deposit checks from your smartphone so there’s no longer a need to go to the bank.
The downside of only accepting checks as a form of payment is the phrase every business owner hates to hear, “The check is in the mail.”
Someone could go on vacation and then suddenly your check didn’t get cut. Or maybe the invoice gets lost. Or, maybe they are just trying to dodge you.
Credit and Debit
If cash is king, then credit is certainly queen when accepting payments.
As I already mentioned, research shows that most consumers prefer some form of card to make payments.
Let’s face it, there are lots of incentives for people to use credit cards. From cash-back offers to being able to track purchases from a smartphone, it’s no wonder people prefer plastic.
Here’s where the problem comes in for small business owners.
Many small business owners refuse to take credit as a form of accepting payments (even though it’s easier than ever) because of processing fees.
The reality is if you’re not accepting payments in the preferred method of consumers, then you’re just leaving money on the table.
It’s much preferable to give up 5% in transaction fees than to loose 100% because people don’t have cash or checks on them.
Some clients may have the means to make a direct deposit with ACH payments.
For example, if you’re considered a vendor by a large corporation they may just add you to their payroll.
This makes accepting payments much easier on the part of the business owner. All you would have to do is invoice the client (if that) and the payment will hit your bank account based on your agreement.
Auto-debit is one of my favorite ways for accepting payments. In fact, it’s what I’m using exclusively with retainer coaching clients. It’s also the only way I accept payments for group programs.
There are so many advantages to auto-debit, including:
- Not having to invoice because it’s automatic.
- The money hitting your bank account in a timely manner.
- The ability to automate the entire payment process.
- Providing payment plans for high ticket items and services.
Mostly it just gives you peace of mind because you know the money is coming and there’s nothing you need to do. After the initial setup, it all runs on autopilot.
Depending on what you are using, many services that offer this will automatically try to charge your client’s card again after X days if a payment didn’t go through the first time.
With Bitcoin making so much news lately, people are turning their eyes toward cryptocurrency as the future of accepting payments.
Many places have already begun accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment and you can even get a prepaid VISA debit card loaded with cryptocurrency.
While business owners may not need to worry about this just yet, it will be interesting to see how cryptocurrency changes the way we accept money for goods and services.
There’s just about nothing a smartphone can’t do, and that includes accepting payments. Heck, you can even make payments with your phone!
There are several ways you can start accepting payments with your phone, including:
- Having a credit card reader that attaches to your mobile device. (I actually have a card reader in my purse.)
- Apps that allow you to accept payments from someone else with the same app.
- POS apps.
There are also POS terminals you can use to start accepting payments via near-field communication.
What’s near-field communication?
It’s what you see at Starbucks whenever a customer taps their phone to make a payment. You can also use this to tap credit cards that are NFC enabled.
Which form of accepting payments do I use?
That really depends on the type of business you have. If you don’t have a brick-and-mortar business, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a point-of-sale terminal to accept payments via mobile payments or credit card chips.
That being said, if you don’t already do it, you definitely need to start accepting payments in the form of credit cards, ACH transfers, and auto-debit.
As for cryptocurrency, it’s still too early to tell where this is all going. But don’t be surprised if you start hearing more about it in the coming years.