Cash, Check, Charge, Mobile Phone?! Mobile Merchant Services is Coming!

Have you noticed today's mobile phone is less about phone calls and more about apps, tools and the “experience”. Take for example the restaurant and hospitality industry. Today’s mobile phone is now a restaurant coaster pager, a mobile coupon generator, restaurant review portal, and a geo-locating
device that provides guests directions right to your restaurant.


I was walking down Broadway in NYC last Wednesday and couldn’t get over how everybody is walking down the street not talking on their phones but steering down at that their phones! I find it fascinating that a device originally positioned back in the 80s for the Wall Street types and later for the general public, as a “car phone” in case of emergency, has now evolved into such a powerful and essential part of our every day lives and businesses.


Arguably the most significant trend is yet to come with Verizon and AT&T teaming up with Discover and Barclay Bank to build a "digital wallet". Your guests will swipe their cell phone screen rather than their plastic credit card to pay the check. Sounds cool but how is this going to impact your restaurant or business? Lower transaction fees is the pitch to get merchants on board but what's going to be required for you to accept cell phone based payments? A new POS scanner, what's the security implications, how will this impact work flow and table turns? I doubt the guest is simply going to give your server their cell phone to pay the bill. Does this mean staff will have to carry 3-D barcode scanners on their hips at a cost of $250 a device? You need to think about this
now or at least pay attention.


Mobile payment services already exist but on a small scale. That’s all about to change when these giants of telecommunication and banking enter the lucrative merchant services business. It looks like 2011 will be the next technological milestone for the mobile phone to the digital wallet and just about everyone has one!

Bloomberg New

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Tags: billing, merchant, mobile, services

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Comment by Michael Markarian on August 26, 2010 at 9:43pm
Great read Brandon, thanks.

I question too how certain restaurants are going to accept 'digital wallet' payments. Some of our customers are so "behind times" -- I say that not to be demeaning, but to state a simple truth they'd be willing to admit. The idea of using mobile phones to drive business is foreign, adding some expensive hardware isn't going to make matters easier.

Not to say its an impossible problem to overcome -- far from it. I just cannot see it happening without some moderate capital investment on Discovers end (?). Interesting times, we will see!

www.iamhungry.com

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