Small businesses face obstacles larger businesses don't, especially when it comes to cash flow. While they might be making enough sales to run a sustainable business, money could be taking a little too long for things to run smoothly. This means small businesses need to be able to process payments quickly, efficiently and inexpensively so they can pay employees, buy new products and expand. The faster payments can be processed, the quicker business owners can move on to other concerns.
Credit and debit cards
A business is going to have a hard time getting by in today's modern world if it can't process credit and debit cards. Although the Federal Reserve still lists cash as the most common form of payment for most transactions, debit and credit cards are not too far behind. Card payments also happen much more often than alternative forms of payment. The Federal Reserve reported that in 2014, around 25 percent of payments were made with debit cards and 17 percent were made with credit cards. That means that if you own a small business, offering credit and debit card processing to your customers should be a no-brainer.
Another good payment option for many small businesses is ACH payments. This type of payment is cheaper than credit or debit card payments. The only downside to ACH payments is that they aren't always suitable for all kinds of businesses. Typically, these types of payments work great for businesses that do a lot of regular repeat business, such as a business that sells subscriptions. ACH payments are cheaper to run because they go right to a person's bank account, bypassing the processes a card has to go through. Businesses are typically charged a flat rate per transaction as opposed to a percentage of the transaction as is standard with many credit and debit cards.
Mobile payments are still in their infancy. Services like Google Wallet and Apple Pay are leading the trend here, but these options are taking time to catch on, likely because they aren't really that much easier to use than a credit or debit card. They are, however, inexpensive and use much of the same equipment that you already have in place if you offer card payment as an option. While Google Wallet has had issues with security in the past, it is suspected mobile payments will be more safe than credit and debit cards in the future, according to the MIT Technology Review. Although it might not be the right time to offer this payment option yet, small business owners should keep an eye on mobile payments for down the line.
Local payment options
If you're running a business in an area of the world that has a specific type of local currency, make sure you can process those transactions as well. If customers can't pay in the way they want to, there is a good chance they will go elsewhere. If you're unsure of what payment options to offer a particular region, contact your payment processing company to inquire,
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