Using iPhone processing of credit cards as a point of sale terminal for your small business is simple and intuitive; there are, however, dozens of companies vying for your service and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. Much like a good buffet, it’s important to grab the right combination of flavors so that your iPhone service complements your business.
The most popular combination for iPhone processing is the app-and-reader-combo. This combination has the advantage of being the easiest to use; you simply sign up for the merchant account, download the app, and you’re ready to go. Most of these services provide a free reader that plugs in through the headphone jack on your phone. There are a wealth of companies offering this sort of combination and selecting the right one is simply a matter of deciding what features and fee structures work best for your business.
For a more robust platform, the app and terminal combination may appeal. They offer a similar portability to app-and-readers, but have additional features that are usually only found on a POS terminal system, such as bar code scanning, PIN entry, and receipt printers. These are more expensive than app-and-reader. Some even offers an iPhone case that integrates a bar code scanner, card reader and PIN entry pad. Again, however, this option is by far the most expensive means by which the iPhone can be leveraged for payments, and can cost over $500 just to get set up, depending on the company you choose for iPhone processing. Still, it is also the most fully-featured and most expansive option.
Finally, for businesses that are exceptionally cost-sensitive, there is a free option for iPhone processing. Apps do exist that allow manual entry of credit card information (no swiping) with no monthly fee and no per transaction charge. Apps of this nature are generally ad-supported, which may be undesirable to the business and/or customers; however, this sort of thing is part of the cost of doing business, when the dollar cost is nill. These sorts of services operate on a principle similar to PayPal or Google Wallet – customers keep their information in an app, which the business user can leverage to accept payments. The LevelUp app, for example, allows customers to pay using a QR code to the company’s LevelUp app. PayPal-to-PayPal transactions would be another similar idea; merchants that accept PayPal payments can receive money from any customer who has a PayPal service.
In the end, when you choose to use the functionality of your iPhone to accept credit card payments, it’s important to decide which set of features you need, and choose the right combination of value and features to suit your business.