Mobile payments have taken the US by storm. The payment option is available at major retailers like Starbucks, Target, and Walgreens, but it is also being used by small vendors such as cab drivers, market stands, and boutique businesses. The question is, “Are mobile payment systems the future or a menace? Mobile payments are currently offered in three forms: a chip embedded in smartphones; a mobile app that stores credit card information; and a small external device that attaches to phones/tablets turning them into a credit card processors. Major players within the industry include Square, Google Wallet, PayPal Here, and LevelUp. Yes, mobile payment is currently hip, but more importantly for small businesses and NPO’s, mobile payment systems are seemingly less expensive than point of sale systems and typical retail card readers, according to USA Today. For nonprofits, it may make sense to use mobile payments during events for raffle purchases, donations, and sales such as auctions, bake sales, and other fundraisers. Razoo does a good job breaking down the payment systems through the eyes of a nonprofit: http://social.razoo.com/2012/03/paypal-makes-four-mobile-payment-options-for-nonprofits/.
Although mobile payment options can be convenient, they are used by a very small market segment today. The technology is catching on, but for many organizations the benefits of mobile payment are limited to cost. For larger organizations, the technology can track customers by time of sale, type of sale, and can put information into useful metrics. Mobile payments also offer a great way for companies to offer coupons and reward systems. This is seemingly of interest for larger companies, but would do little to help small organizations.
Overall, mobile payments will be slowly adopted, but don’t feel left behind if your organization does not employ them yet. Until mobile payments become more mainstream and users are comfortable with the technology, it is probably best not to take chances on this particular technology as an NPO until those who support your cause are able to use the technology with ease.