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Last Updated: 9/23/2014 03:09 PST

How Mobile Card Readers Are Helping Small and Medium Businesses Grow

How Mobile Card Readers Are Helping Small and Medium Businesses Grow

By Joe Thompson

On a recent trip to a convention in San Diego, something exciting happened.

I bought a T-shirt from a vendor, handed over my credit card, and instead of using a regular card reader, the seller pulled out a smart phone with an oval device plugged in the audio jack. He quickly swiped my card through it, handed it back along with his phone, had me sign on the screen using my finger, and asked me to enter my email or cell phone number if I needed a receipt—all that, in a matter of seconds.

That’s when I realized that someone had actually invented a mobile card reader, a device that could process credit and debit card transactions via a smart phone. It was right there, before my eyes. That epiphany made me wonder a couple things: Why hadn't I come up with something that smart? (It would've certainly simplified my retirement plans.) And why didn't everyone know about this?

I could not get an answer to my first question, but it turns out that a lot of people do know about mobile readers. At that convention alone I noticed numerous vendors using them, and when I got back home, I found out my chiropractor and my local coffee shop were using them as well. With the proliferation of smart phones, these readers are becoming the go-to devices for small and medium-size businesses that want to easily process card transactions.

The one I saw in action was the Intuit GoPayment, and these companies make it really easy for retailers to use them. For example, the GoPayment's reader is simple, straightforward, and works on iPhone and iPad, as well as Android phones and tablets. The application process is also quite simple. To sign up, customers answer a few basic questions and download the free app. The reader is also free, and arrives within 4-7 business days of filling out the online application.

Another advantage to small businesses (one that can actually impact their bottom line) is the low cost. Banks often charge enormous fees for credit card terminals and transactions, and US News reports that the cost of credit card interchange fees has tripled in recent years. This forces many small businesses to incur that expense or lose sales when customers are not carrying cash.

But Intuit charges no monthly fee for the GoPayment, and there are no application or cancellation fees. Users pay as little as 1.75% per swipe, and they can accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. After the transaction, funds are deposited to the bank account on file within 2-3 business days.

A natural concern here would be credit card fraud. However, Intuit provides an encrypted card reader, preventing any data from being compromised. No sensitive data is ever saved on the reader. There is also an option to designate multiple users, allowing business owners to manage all transactions under one account. Finally,  access to the Merchant Service account allows users to easily process or reverse a transaction, run reports, and more. That means business owners can process a sales transaction even without the reader.

From an artist selling his work on the sidewalk to a restaurateur with 50 employees (yes, GoPayment takes tips too), anyone looking to accept credit or debit transactions can now do so from their smart phone. It’s clear that these items are changing the way people do business for the best.

Click here to learn more about GoPayment.

This article sponsored by Intuit Copyright Howlifeworks.com 2014