Mobile Payment Allows Customers To Use Credit Cards for On-Location Photography Services
When was the last time you made a big purchase with cash? Modern mobile payment solutions allow photographers to accept credit card payment even outside their studios. In this day and age, practically all higher-priced purchases are paid through credit cards or debit (cashless) payment and yet, for the service sector like photography, many still haven’t embraced accepting the convenient and lucrative credit card payment option.
What’s Wrong with Cash or Check?
Any legal tender, whether cash, check, direct deposit, or credit, they all still add up to our bank accounts when we bill customers, but the old ways of using cash, check, and deposits aren’t able to keep up with today’s businesses pace. Imagine the steps your customer have to take in order to pay their album proofs or on-location photo session with cash, not only do they have to make a withdrawal, bring the cash, then pay you, you also may need to provide change as well if the cash wasn’t exact. With checks, your customer has to write a check (and at the back of your mind, you hope that the check won’t bounce), wait for the check to arrive (if sent by post), you have to make a deposit, wait for the check to clear, before getting your money. With direct deposits, you have to provide all the bank details beforehand while your customer has to either go to the bank or go through the info entry in their online banking to make the payment. All these are not very intuitive and every additional step you’re asking your client to make reduces your chance to make another sale.
Advantage of Credit Cards
We all know the advantages of using and accepting credit cards – speed and security. A single swipe and a signature is all it takes for your customer and you get your payment in real-time without having to carry physical cash on your way back to your studio, minimizing loss or theft. In addition, accepting credit card practically guarantees that you get paid on the spot. For your client, it saves them the trouble of paying you up front because they won’t have to pay the credit card bill until the statement arrives. When it comes to higher ticket services, the ability to accept credit cards on-location can save you a lot of time in billing and accounting as well as drive higher sales on prints and bookings. The faster you can accept payment, the higher the odds you can make a potential customer commit to your future services. Being able to accept credit payment tends to add credibility to your company as well. The more convenient payment methods you provide your client, the easier it will be for them to do business with you.
Disadvantage of Credit Cards
The main business challenge for most people with offering credit card payment would be the charges involved for having a merchant account and the hardware required to actually accept payment. There are a lot of places you can open a merchant account from, it’s best to shop around and get all the surcharge details in print and compare. It’s best to ask any local stores or establishments for recommendations when doing credit card merchant account rate comparisons. The other hurdle on accepting credit would be how to securely accept credit payments when your credit card swiping terminal isn’t hooked up to your studio’s telephone line. I’ve read that some people actually write down their client’s credit card info and manually key the info into their payment machines when they return to their studio. This is highly impractical, unsafe, and defeats the purpose of instant payment. Paypal is another gateway for payment but this isn’t as convenient and fast as ‘swipe-and-sign‘ credit card transactions.
Mobile Payment Solutions
Fast forward to 2011, with the proliferation of smartphone and smartphone application development, it is now possible to securely accept credit card payment using our mobile phones securely and wirelessly using WiFi or cellular data networks. Currently, there are two popular offerings in the market, VeriFone’s PAYware Mobile products and Square. The VeriFone system is a more robust, serious, and arguably more secure system than Square’s but the latter is cheaper and smaller, not to mention iPad compatible.
VeriFone is one of the industry’s largest credit card payment machine manufacturers, and it offers both a basic iPhone credit card reader and a full-function iPhone wireless payment sleeve that can accept smart cards, contactless payment, and PIN entry (particularly useful for non-US markets).
Square, on the other hand, offers a straight-forward credit card reader and is a relative newcomer in the payment field serving the US market mainly. It is co-founded by Twitter’s founder, Jack Dorsey.
Both these devices utilize a standard card reader to communicate with a secure software app installed in your smartphone to process payment on-the-spot. Instant provision of receipts and confirmations emails allow you to make a sale quickly, securely, and efficiently.
Contact both companies and run a cost analysis for your own business and see which system fits your needs better. Regardless of which system you choose, VeriFone’s PAYware or Square, at the end of the day, you and your customer win because credit card payments allow for more instant sales, faster payment, secure transactions, and faster billing.
Are you using any form of credit card payment facility for your photography business? Let everyone know how it’s working out for you.