Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Can You Accept Payments From Your Customers Phone? Here Are Some Good Reasons You Should.

April 28th, 2015

My Initial Observations, Musings and Opinions on Smartphone Payment Use.

We have been setting our clients up with equipment that enables them to accept NFC, (near field communications), transactions for over a year.  Over the course of time, I have gleaned some interesting information, through talking to our clients, about the acceptance of NFC by both the business owner and the customers.

In late 2013, when we first started deploying credit card terminals that were EMV and NFC enabled the typical clients’ reaction was “what do I need that for”?  We would take the time to explain to them the EMV rule that would go into effect in October 2015 and the potential for smartphone based payments in the future.  Ultimately, we were “futureproofing” their equipment needs.  We were making sure they were ready for the changes we could see that were coming in the industry.

Many of our clients were a pleasantly surprised when customers would occasionally use their Android™ phones to make a payment using Google Wallet™, but initially the use was minimal.    Although they understood a new rule was coming regarding the use of chipped cards, most failed to grasp the potential of the smartphone based payment platforms.

Enter Apple Pay™.

In the fall of 2014 rumors began circulating about Apple™ getting involved in the smartphone payments arena when they released the iPhone 6™.  The buzz among Android™ users seemed to escalate.  After all, each of these platforms has their following and their critics.  You are either an Apple™ fan or an Android™ fan and that is just how it is.  According to our clients, Android™ users seemed to increase their use of the smartphone payment technology a bit, though still minimal in the overall scheme of things.  It was still not a big deal in the eyes of many clients.

When Apple™ finally launched their new platform in October 2015 the entire payments industry was pontification about the effect Apple Pay™ will have on payments.  Some point of Sale Systems and stand-alone terminals that could accept Apple Pay™ were already in place at businesses in America.  Many of our clients who had not yet made the switch began calling to ask if their terminals could take the new technology.  Those already in place saw another rise in interest on the part of customers.

One client, a Veterinarian who had upgraded their equipment a year ago, raved about the ease of use when taking smartphone payments.  He thanked us for upgrading him a year ago and told us that simply offering the smartphone payment option had increased his client base.

Three Good Reasons to Upgrade to New Equipment.

First, and undoubtedly the most important reason to a business owner to upgrade to new equipment is increased profits.  More money is always good.  In our technical society, users of the new technology seem to be seeking out businesses where they can use it.  If you are one of the locations they can use their gadget, guess what, you have a new customer. Thus, the sooner you upgrade the more new customers you can get from this equipment transition.

Make no mistake, acceptance and use of this technology will grow exponentially in the next few months, as more businesses become NFC capable. In addition, as more smartphone users upgrade to the new technology, (usually about an every two year occurrence), there are more potential customers in the market to use the new technology.

Second, it is a good idea to get your equipment upgraded to be able to accept chipped cards anyway.  On October 1, 2015, liability will shift to you, the business owner, from the banks on fraudulent card transactions.  That is only if you have not upgraded to EMV enabled equipment.  If you do it wisely, the new equipment will handle both EMV and NFC/Smartphone transactions.  If you choose the right processing representative this upgrade is free.

Third is security.  I will not go into detail how the transactions take place but security when using the new smartphone technology is phenomenal.  Each transaction has its own code, and with Apple Pay™, it would be extremely difficult to counterfeit the phone owners’ thumbprint!

There you have it.  My thoughts a a professional.  Now you can decide.  Live in the past or become part of the future. Give us a call at 800-878-5346 and we will set you up with the equipment for free.

Think You Are Too Small to Have a Point Of Sale System? If So, You Always Will Be.

March 27th, 2015

We hear it all the time. Many businesses believe they are too small to need the capability of a POS system. They do not feel the need to track what their business is doing financially, or have data on their hottest selling items, or even to get a handle on labor. All that may currently be true, but if it is and you maintain the opinion that you are too small, you will always be too small. You will never be successful enough to need that Point of Sale System.

For those of this opinion, and those that believe a system may be too complicated and high tech for them there is an alternative. This is not an Apple™ or Android™ based tablet. Those can be expensive and use apps that someone develops that “thinks” they know what your needs are. This type of device is designed to do email, surf the web, Facebook and chat, not to run a business. Further, they cost several hundred dollars each and have monthly service fees for the running of the POS app.

Now on the market, through our office, is a device that grows with your business, looks good and its design is for the specific purpose of running a business. It is very user friendly and can grow as you grow. It is also less expensive than a full featured POS system or even one of the tablet systems that are on the market.

The Harbortouch Echo™ can be run in three different modes of operation. First, as a simple calculator that adds up the sales, totals them and processes for the correct amount. It may get tedious keying in $4.95 for every burger every time, or $14.95 for each haircut, so you add them as items. Examples would be men’s haircut, $14.95 and child’s haircut, $7.95. Buttons then appear on the screen for each item and it goes into cash register mode. I‘ve use a salon example but it can work for any type of business.

In cash register mode, it totals the items you touch and processes the sale for the correct amount. If you do not have an item entered, the calculator can be used to add the price to the total. In this mode, it also becomes your time clock and tracks labor. You can also download reports for sales to see what the best-selling items are, adjust inventory, list of services or menu items and become more efficient in your offerings, and more profitable. Information about what your customers prefer is a powerful thing to have when building a business. Now you are getting a picture of how your business is doing and can make decisions that allow it to grow.

Now comes the fun part, you expand and make more offerings. The screen becomes cluttered in the cash register mode. With the Echo™ it is easy to create categories and modifiers. A category may be hair services. Under that may be haircut, beard trim, shave, etc… Touch haircut and the modifiers may be Men’s, women’s, female child under 10 and male child under 10, each with a different price. Your business is now more streamlined, you have better information and you enter the pricing on each item with the touch of a screen. You are now in the realm of POS information, actually seeing data on where your business is coming from.

Maintenance of the Echo™ is very reasonably priced and it will add to your bottom line. As you grow the next step is the Harbortouch Elite™. You can contact us through our website at http://www.ubcus.com to inquire about how to get your Echo™ or Elite™ system placed in your business for free! Give us a call. Let’s chat, maybe do a webinar about how using one of these systems can change your business.

It’s Just Double Dumb For Business Owners to Not be Apple Pay™ Ready!

February 21st, 2015

I don’t mean to infer business owners are dumb. We all do dumb things from time to time. I know, I’m an expert on that subject. It is just, shall we say, a less than wise thing to procrastinate getting your business ready to accept payments from existing and potential customers who want to use the new smartphone technology.

Consider these things. Apple™ will soon be releasing the Apple Watch™, which, like their recently released iPhone 6™ and iPhone 6 Plus™ will be ready to use with Apple Pay™ . How many millions will they sell? Are you going to look at getting one? How many people do you see using the new iPhone 6™ platform? My guess is a lot! According to their quarterly report there were 74.5 MILLION units of the iPhone 6™ sold in the last three months of 2014. It makes one wonder how many would have sold if they would have been readily available. I myself could not find one until February of 2015! How many do you think have sold this year with waiting lists at all of the Apple™ stores? How many units of the Apple Watch™ will sell when it is released in the near future?

Below are some questions I’ve received about the subject, along with answers.

What is Apple Pay™?
Apple Pay™ allows your customers to pay using their smartphone, (or soon their watch), to pay for goods and services. It is safe and secure. Each transaction is authorized by pin or fingerprint sensor and generates a one time token. Even if it is intercepted it is useless to the person trying to hack it. No card data or names are exchanged making it possibly the most secure method of payment available today.

How do I accept Apple Pay™?
Accepting Apple Pay™ is as simple, or more simple, than accepting a credit card as long as you have the right equipment. (see below).

What Equipment Do I Need?
You will need an NFC enabled credit card terminal or Point Of Sale System, (yes, both are available). Without this technology there is no path of communication between the smartphone and your payment equipment.

What Will It Cost Me?
There are no additional “transaction fees” or *discount fees” to the business owner to accept Apple Pay™. However, you will need updated NFC equipment. Many sales reps and processors may charge you hundreds if not thousands of dollars to upgrade your equipment. However, (here comes the shameless plug), I can upgrade your standard terminal for free as long as you use my office for processing. I can even get full blown Point Of Sale Systems placed for free as long as you pay the normal POS service fees.  Call our number as seen on this site or send or click contact us and send a message.  We will get back with you.

What is the Price of Doing Nothing?
When your customers get a new iPhone 6™ with Apple Pay™ they will eagerly seek out merchants who accept the technology to try it out. It is faster and more secure than traditional credit cards. Will you be able to accept their payments or will they need to find a competitor that does?

Consider these facts gleaned from the Apple™ quarterly report and the Macworld publication;

Apple pay is already responsible for 50% of mobile payments purchases at fast-food giant McDonald’s™

Apple Pay™ is already working with over 90% of the USA’s most used payment cards.

According to Credit Card giant Visa™ Americans are now twice as likely to carry a mobile phone as they are to have cash with them. Those between the ages of 18 and 34 are four times as likely.

Media website Business Insider claims that the use of in-store mobile payments will grow by 4,200% by 2018.

Even the government is signing on… President Obama signed an executive order mandating that certain government agencies ready themselves to accept mobile payments.

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter while you are here. You can also follow me on LinkedIn. Contact us, we will tell it like it is with no frills, no smoke and no mirrors.

Apple Pay™ is so Easy To Use but It Is Hard to Find Places to Use It.

February 19th, 2015

Many of you have seen my opinions on this in articles I have written. I am a firm believer that Apple Pay™ may well be the most secure way to make and accept payments.  See my opinion  on the Apple Pay™ platform in my Linkedin post on the subject.  I’ve also published what I think are the 3 best reasons to upgrade to NFC enabled terminals.

There are millions of Apple Pay™ enabled phones now in the hands of customers and they are looking for places to use the new technology. Savvy merchants are upgrading their equipment to take EMV because of the new rules. Make sure when you do that you can also take the various NFC payment forms such as Apple Pay™.

Choose a provider wisely and this equipment upgrade can be done free of charge. Choose poorly and it can cost hundreds of dollars. Now is the time to consider the upgrade. Being one of the salons, boutiques or sporting goods stores that accepts Apple Pay™ may help increase your customer base.

Please sign up for our free electronic newsletter below.  Keep up to date on what is happening in the electronic payments industry.

You can also add me as a friend on Linkedin  for more updates.

How the 2015 EMV Rule May Affect Your Business.

February 6th, 2015

Do I Really Need New Equipment?

Well, kind of. The card associations saying that anyone who takes credit cards in the USA as a form of payment needs to update their credit card processing equipment in 2015. New equipment must be EMV enabled in order for you to reduce your liability.

That is all of the information most business owners get as far as what is going on with their cash flow. Many business owners hear that it is a “rule” and begin to panic. They scramble to become “compliant” with the new rules and end up spending far more money than necessary. The true story goes much further and is much simpler. When heads that are more logical prevail, this new rule is not nearly as frightening, (or expensive) as it at first appears to be.

What the #>%& is EMV?

EMV is an acronym that stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa. This is a global standard for the use of integrated circuit payment cards or “chip cards” and IC card capable chip readers that are either inside, or attached to, credit card terminals and automated teller machines, (ATM’s). The EMV rules are applicable only to the card present, (face-to-face) transaction environment. This technology has also made it possible to utilize other instruments of payment such as mobile phones with programs such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

For years, EMV payment technology has been the standard worldwide, except in the USA. Virtually all businesses in Canada and Europe use credit card readers that are EMV capable. To put it simply, it is a more secure method of authenticating and completing credit and debit card transactions. It is much more secure than the magnetic strip technology that is widely used in the USA.

What If I Say To Heck With It and Not Upgrade My Equipment?

Possibly nothing. There are no fines and nobody is going to come in to inspect your equipment. However, there are many good reasons to make the change but one of the real dangers to your business is the liability shift that will occur on October 1 this year. Here is a timetable of when liabilities will shift to your business from the banks on fraudulent transactions;

On October 1, 2015: liability for fraudulent transactions will shift from the bank to (ultimately) the merchant on fraudulent sale transactions for Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. (Looks like most of them to me!)

On October 1, 2016: MasterCard liability will shift to the ATM owner for MasterCard transactions.

On October 1, 2017: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover liability shift will occur for pay-at-pump gas stations, as well as for Visa and American Express at ATM’s.

As you can see, the big date for most business owners is October 1, 2015.

So? How Can That Affect Me?

Imagine if you will that October 2015 arrives. You have not updated your card processing equipment. Your current equipment can read the mag strip on the customers’ card but not the embedded chip in cards that have them. You sell $500 worth of goods to a customer and swipe the customers’ magnetic strip credit card through your outdated credit card reader. If the transaction is fraudulent, you are out the $500. You are liable to pay it back. In addition, you are out the cost of the merchandise.

Now imagine that you have updated your equipment to EMV capable terminals. In the same scenario as above, it is the bank and not the business owner that becomes liable for the fraudulent $500 transaction. Even though you used the magnetic strip capability on your updated terminal to swipe the card and complete the transaction, the simple fact that you could have completed the transaction with EMV technology just saved you 500 bucks!

Fraudulent transactions can be due to lost or stolen cards, counterfeit cards or any other reason. It is a sad, but true fact that magnetic strip cards are easily counterfeited once the cardholders’ data is obtained illegally.  You can always give us a call on our toll free number to simply ask questions about this new rule and how it may affect you.  Reading is good, talking is better.

I Can’t Afford That Kind Of Loss. What Should I Do?

The bottom line is updating to the new technology payment processing equipment is a wise thing for business owners to do. It is more secure and makes fraud less likely. We are all in this together. Anything any of us can do to prevent fraud and identity theft is a good thing.

The good news is the sky is not falling as some of the banks and credit card sales representatives would have you believe. They simply want to sell equipment and make money. They want business owners to wring their hands, furrow their brows and reach for their checkbook. This is not necessary. If you find the right independent processor this new equipment is provided to business owners free of charge. The time is now to contact a reputable representative and make the switch to 21st century card processing technology. Remember, the liability shift date is October 15 2015. Do it sooner if possible to avoid the last-minute rush.

Sign up below for our newsletter to keep updated on changes in the electronic payments industry.  Add me on Linkedin to get my musings about changes in the electronic payments industry.  You can also check out my opinion on upgrading to NFC payments equipment at Ezine articles.  You can give us a call on our toll free number to simply ask questions about this new rule and how it may affect you.