Apple Pay processes credit card transactions without the need to swipe an actual card. Like Google Wallet and SoftCard, Apple Pay uses an NFC chip within a mobile device to communicate with specially equipped card readers, providing more security than old-school magnetic card swipers. These new systems are catching on, and analysts predict mobile payments to pass $700 billion by 2017. It is worth noting that with each mobile technology seeking to establish its own unified system, many merchants haven’t been so quick to pick between incompatible standards. For instance, only merchants with processors that use the Visa Token Service can align themselves with Apple Pay. American Express only uses EMVCO’s Payment Tokenization Specification. In addition, mobile payment systems can charge merchants flat monthly fees or per swipe fees that typically take 2 to 3 percent off every transaction. Still, mobile payments are convenient and fast, and when speed directly influences your bottom line, this matters.
For hotels, mobile payments provide another form of intelligence; a new tool to measure guests’ habits and preferences while building loyalty and participation through a rewards program. Dave Hogan, executive director of major accounts at Heartland Payment Systems, foresees the day when mobile devices become a guest’s personal mobile concierge, managing dinner reservations, booking tee times, and covering a host of other services. “It’s going to be a very effective way brands can hit their customers’ hot points, but the training aspect of this new technology is huge,” he adds. “Hotel staff must be able to work with this technology so that it doesn’t end up being a bad experience for guests. One simple problem can escalate into a bad review online that can go viral and damage your brand.” So what happens if guests lose their iPhone, their battery goes dead, they forget their PIN, or the NFC network goes down? Have a contingency plan. Adaptability is crucial to the success and survival of any business.