A small business owner’s guide to new payment technology

For many Canadians, cash is no longer king. Increasingly, consumers are choosing the ease, convenience and security of electronic payments over a pocket full of change. According to the results of a Bank of Canada Methods-of-Payment Survey issued in 2015, cash accounts for less than half of all payment transactions, in favour of credit and debit cards, including those that are contactless-enabled.

As a small business owner, you understand the importance of listening to and responding to your customers’ preferences. You may end up missing out on a potential sale if you don’t offer your customers their preferred payment options. And today, more than ever, Canadian consumers have a wealth of options when it comes to how they pay for goods and services. As payments technology evolves, small business owners must pay attention and consider what these changes mean for their customers and for their businesses.

Contactless payments are a catalyst for much of the innovation that we are seeing in the payments industry. Today, most major Canadian retailers have point-of-sale (POS) terminals that are equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC), providing their customers with the ease and convenience of paying for goods and services with the tap of their card – the major Canadian banks have been issuing contactless cards for more than five years now – or the wave of their mobile device. The two key benefits of this technology for small businesses and their customers are convenience and speed. Contactless acceptance can offer faster service at the check-out, shorter lines and less abandonment at the point of sale – all of which can help drive increased profitability for businesses.

In Canada, where nearly three-in-four Canadians own a smartphone, mobile is changing the way in which we live our daily lives. As Canadians increasingly turn to their smartphone or tablet for research, gaming, social media, news and online shopping, it’s not surprising that we’re now turning our sights to the mobile device as a means to make payments – even more so with the launch of emerging mobile payments solutions, such as Apple Pay. With Apple Pay, and similar mobile payment solutions, consumers can link their payment card credentials to a mobile wallet app on their device, and then use their mobile device for payment, instead of a traditional credit or debit card. It takes only a wave of the mobile device near the terminal and an authentication, such as Touch ID for Apple Pay transactions, to complete a secure transaction. For small business owners who already accept Interac and credit cards, adding Apple Pay is easy. If you accept contactless payments today, your terminals are capable of supporting mobile wallet acceptance. If you’re unsure, or want more information, contact a payment provider and tell them you wish to start accepting payments made via mobile wallet. You can also order window decals to make sure your customers know that you now accept this cutting edge technology. As of publication date, 11 financial institutions have made their cards available to this app.

Don’t forget about gift cards and reward cards – your payment technology of choice should be able to process them, too, so you can take advantage of any additional business they can generate. Since October 2007, Ontario has banned expiry dates on most gift cards, making them more attractive to consumers. By offering gift and reward card capabilities you’re giving your customers the freedom of choice.

As a small business owner, you’re focused on gaining new customers, creating loyalty and growing your business. One way to achieve this is by giving your customers payment convenience and choice – whether it’s cash or credit, chip or contactless, payment card or mobile device, or even gift and loyalty cards. Accepting electronic payments is also a secure way to ensure your money goes where it should, with less worry about handling cash or making bank deposit runs. It’s a win-win for you and your customers!