A guide to contactless payment for your small business | Yelp

Person using phone for contactless payment to purchase something
Photo by Blake Wisz

For small business owners, the pandemic forced an enormous amount of change and strategic adaptation. Some changes were temporary, while others have proven to have staying power, like contactless payment. While it can seem like a complicated undertaking, the process of implementing contactless payment is simple. Here are the basics for setting up your business to take contactless payments.

Contactless payment allows transactions to take place completely touch-free. These transactions are made by customers tapping a chip card, payment-enabled phone, or wearable device over a contactless reader set up by the business. Some contactless payment apps also use QR codes to process transactions.

Nearly all contactless payments are enabled by the same type of technology—near-field communication. This type of technology has been around since the 1990s, but it was the COVID-19 pandemic that dramatically accelerated its adoption in the U.S. and around the world. 

Shoppers once primarily motivated by factors like pricing or inventory have since shifted their focus to businesses’ best practices. “Consumers are putting COVID-19 safety measures at the top of their shopping lists and rewarding businesses that do the same,” said Suzan Kereere of Fiserv, and former global head of merchant sales at Visa.

The numbers show contactless payment has become an important differentiator among businesses. According to the Visa Back to Business Study, 63% of consumers would switch to a new business that provides contactless payment options, and 46% indicate contactless payment methods as among the most important safety measures for businesses to follow.

In addition, contactless payments are just as secure, if not more secure, than traditional chip card payments or cash—and they’re much faster. From the consumer’s perspective, this equates to ease of use, safer transactions, and payment flexibility. 

The types of payments accepted by businesses are having a major impact on who decides to shop where. More than two-thirds of small and medium-sized businesses have tried a new approach to keep their businesses on track and meet consumer demands—with 20% of those implementing contactless payment to gain a business advantage. 

From a business perspective, contactless payments enable better operational efficiency, deliver an improved customer experience, and usually come at little or no extra cost. Here are three easy steps to implement contactless payment methods in your business.

1. Set up the necessary technology and equipment 

The most important step is determining the technology needed to accept contactless payments at your business. Start by evaluating your current point-of-sale (POS) terminal. According to A.T. Kearney, 70% of merchants in the U.S. already have POS terminals capable of accepting contactless payments. Depending on your current system, you might just need plug-in readers. Or if you don’t have a contactless system in place, there are plenty of third-party options that will work with the varying payment types your customers might use, like Apple Pay. 

If you plan to use payment programs that use QR codes, all you need to do is set up an account with the payment app and place a scannable code near your register. Link any and all payment  platforms you’re using to your business—not your personal account—to keep your business finances in check. Paul Morris, founder and owner of Jack of Trades Electric Service, uses that tip to keep track of all his contactless payments. “I make sure that it all goes back to the business account, and that’s what keeps it all itemized,” he said. 

2. Run test transactions and train your staff 

Once your technology is set up, perform test runs and take the time to properly train your staff. Make sure they know how to handle the system, what types of payments are accepted, and what to do when problems come up. There are a variety of free training materials available, such as these guidelines from Apple on how to use Apple Pay.

Once everyone is trained and it comes time to handle real customers, you and your employees will have worked through potential bugs and be ready to assist customers to ensure a quick and efficient checkout process.  

3. Let people know you accept contactless payments

Consumers clearly have a preference for contactless payment, so once your system is set up and staff is adequately trained, make sure your customers know about it. Start with your online presence—including on your website, social media pages, and Yelp Business Page, where you can select and display amenities like “Accepts Apple Pay.” 

In addition to updating your online presence, be sure to have physical signs where customers check out. Check with your payment provider or processing reader systems to see what signage they might provide. 

Tip: Let online customers know you accept Apple Pay by downloading the Apple Pay mark to use within email, on your terminal screen, on your website, and in your app. You can also easily add Apple Pay to display on your Apple Maps listing.

If you have a brick-and-mortar location, you can order free Apple Pay decals to put on your storefront window and register. The Decals Kit includes one glass decal, two register decals, and six terminal decals. The Signage Kit includes three 7×11-in posters, five 4×6-in countertop postcards, two window cling sheets, an employee reference card, and one decal sheet.

Contactless payment has been around for years, but after being fueled by pandemic health and safety protocols, the technology continues to grow in popularity. “That’s the wave of the future,” said Morris. “People are recognizing the value of contactless payments, and I only see more of it in the future.”

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.

A guide to contactless payment for your small business

Christin Hakim

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