As a small business owner or freelancer, it’s up to you to keep up with customers’ need to purchase online at websites like Amazon and in person. Gone are the days when every customer paid in cash, and it was enough to have change and a place to store the odd check. Also gone are the days when it was enough to accept credit cards in person. Today’s consumers demand more choices.
This guide will introduce you to payment solutions that will help you keep up with the times. We’ll also go over the benefits and disadvantages of each one. Then, you’ll have several options for your customers to make payments, and keep your finances organized.
What are business payment services?
A business payment service is a third-party company that works with your bank and helps your business accept money for goods or services. These methods include credit, debit, bank transfers, or any other type of electronic payment. These include:
- Payment processing companies – guide transactions from sale to approval.
- Money transfer services – handle sending money across far distances (often between countries).
- Cash flow management services – help manage financial operations.
- Gateway service providers – offer a secure way to authorize online payments.
- Online payment tools – offer a virtual terminal for e-commerce.
6 Small Business Payment Tools
Having the right payment tools for your small business can help you retain customers. You want to be able to accept any form of payment they can provide. If someone wants to buy from you using Apple Pay, but you only accept credit cards, you may be out of a sale.
The right payment tools can also help you make transactions faster and easier, and also help you organize your finances. Let’s go through some examples of quality payment tools so that you can decide what might be a good fit for your business needs.
Contactless payments allow checkout without having to make physical contact with anything. They don’t have to swipe a card, sign anything, or even enter a pin. There are two types of technology that allow customers to make contactless payments:
- Near field communication (NFC) technology lets a customer link their payment information to their phone. Their phone then communicates with a contactless reader to make the purchase.
- Quick response (QR) codes let a business receive payments using a computer or mobile app. The customer scans the business’s QR code using a phone, enters the amount of payment, and shows it to an employee to finish the sale.
When a customer enters their card information into Google Pay, it creates a virtual token of their payment information. The app can then use NFC technology to send that virtual token to a point-of-sale (POS) terminal to make a purchase. Tokenizing the card information means that payment information is not shared.
Google Pay doesn’t require your business to have an internet connection or a good cell connection, but it does require you to have a POS terminal that can make contactless sales. It also doesn’t require any special training on the part of the sales clerk, as all communication is done between the machines. It’s free for a business to accept Google Pay. When it’s used in a store, the transaction is considered the same as using a card. It doesn’t charge customers to make bank transfers or use debit cards. It charges 2.9% for credit card processing, however.
One downside to Google Pay is that a customer must have an Android device with Google Pay installed, so it would be wise to have some other payment options.
With Apple Pay, customers can use their iPhone or Apple Watch to make contactless payments in a store. Like Google Pay, it leaves processing and authorizing to banks and operates by tokenizing a user’s credit card information. It also uses NFC technology to make purchases with a mobile device.
Not only does Apple Pay tokenize a user’s credit card information, but it also requires them to use a passcode to use the app. These passcodes can be numerical, or they can involve facial or fingerprint recognition.
There are no merchant fees for accepting Apple Pay. Purchases using the software are considered the same as debit card purchases. There is a 3% fee for credit card purchases, though. You also won’t need a wireless internet or cellular connection to take Apple Pay. You will need a POS terminal capable of making contactless sales, however.
While Apple Pay is a popular option, a downside is that it only works with IOS products, so customers with other products won’t be able to use it.
Payment Processing Companies
Payment processing companies take care of transactions that happen between a customer and your business. To do this, these companies maintain communication with both the customer’s bank and yours. They also take security measures to authorize payments. Before letting a payment go through, the company will check to make sure the customer has enough money and no fraudulent activity.
PayPal has been in the game for over 20 years. It’s one of the most well-known payment processing companies out there. For contactless payments, PayPal uses QR codes. Customers will use their phone camera to read the QR code at a business and enter their payment.
PayPal will give you a credit card reader that will read a customer’s microchipped credit card. It has a reputation for being very secure. The company has a loss rate of less than 0.5%, which is the best of any payment system. It encrypts a customer’s data and holds money for transactions that are being disputed until they’re worked out.
PayPal generally charges 2.9% plus $0.30 per credit card or debit transaction. The cost can go up to 4.4% for international payments. However, PayPal won’t require your business to get new equipment, like a POS system, but it will require you to have a solid internet connection or a strong cell connection. It might require some extra training, though. Successful transactions count on a buyer inputting the right amount for a sale and an employee verifying the amount.
Square offers all-in-one POS payment services like PayPal. Square has several software plans to choose from that vary in functionality. The basic plan gives you access to the software and one free magstripe reader to process credit cards, like Visa or Mastercard.
You’ll pay 2.6% for a transaction plus $0.10 for magstripe, chip, or contactless payments. And there are different plans for businesses like restaurants or retailers that offer specialized hardware.
Depending on what plan you choose for Square, it can really help streamline your business. Not only can it handle all your payment processing, but it can also help you manage your inventory, apply for a business loan, and market to customers. One downside to using Square is that it’s one of the most expensive payment processing solutions.
Stripe is designed mainly for online businesses. It lets you accept online or mobile payments for an online business in a few ways. You can create invoices, use third-party integration, or use a Stripe virtual terminal. Stripe charges 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction for credit card payments.
There are extra processing fees for disputes if the bank rules against your business. Stripe is popular among many development companies. One downside of Stripe is that it doesn’t offer a direct support line unless you purchase a paid account.
Money Transfer Services
Money transfer services let you send money to anywhere in the world. They are the most cost-effective way to send money internationally. The reason they offer the best pricing on international transfers is that they charge lower “spreads” on currency exchange than banks. The spread is the difference between the actual exchange rate and the amount you’ll get for your money.
Dwolla allows you to transfer money from one bank account to another without the use of credit cards. If a transaction is less than $10, there’s no fee. If the transaction is more than that, there’s a fee of $0.25. Compare that to credit cards, which charge transaction fees ranging from around 1.3% to 3.4%.
When a transfer is made using Dwolla, the money arrives within minutes as opposed to companies like PayPal that will hold onto money while transactions are authorized. However, Dwolla isn’t currently as well-known or widely used as services like PayPal.
Venmo is a money transfer service that focuses on the social aspect of sending money to friends and family.
Because of the popularity of Venmo, it can now be used to purchase from merchants with QR codes or Venmo credit cards. However, it charges merchant accounts a higher fee per transaction than individuals. Friends transferring money to each other using the app would pay 1% per transfer. On the other hand, businesses have to pay 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction. One negative of Venmo is that it charges 3% to transfer money from a credit card.
Cash Flow Management
Cash flow management programs help you track how much cash is coming in and going out of the business at any given time. Your cash flow statement will have a record of all your expenses, like payroll, monthly bills, and supplies. It will also note your profits and other income.
You’ll use your statement to create a forecast of your future earnings. Your cash flow forecast estimates how money will flow in and out of your company in the future. Good cash flow management software will help you gather this type of information to use in your business.
ZipBooks is a cloud-based cash flow management tool. It handles your accounting and lets you do things like create your own invoicing with unique logos. You can even add personalized messages. ZipBooks has a free basic plan, but you can purchase add-ons. For payments, ZipBooks charges businesses a fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
Besides helping manage your cash flow, ZipBooks comes with project management software that will help an accounting team collaborate on tasks. It also has a feature that lets you contact your customers directly from the app to make communication more efficient. One drawback of ZipBooks is that it doesn’t have quite the functionality of accounting software, like QuickBooks.
Gateway Service Providers
A payment gateway serves as a go-between for your bank and a customer’s bank. It authorizes digital payments. When someone buys something from you online, the gateway sends their card information to your merchant services provider (like Square or PayPal). It then lets the customer know if the sale is approved. Gateways are needed because payment card industry (PCI) standards make it illegal to transfer information from a website to a payment processor without one.
Authorize.net has been around since 1996. It’s one of the oldest gateway service providers. Authorize.net is a secure payment gateway with several fraud prevention filters. It also offers support for things like recurring payments. Authorize.net a monthly fee of $25 to use the gateway. The price is a bit higher than some other companies that offer similar services.
2Checkout is a gateway service that works with some of the most used online shopping carts, like Shopify. It also helps you sell globally with an online store, doing business with people who speak various other languages and accepting payment in different currencies.
The price of 2Checkout depends on what plan you choose, the nature of your business, and what country it’s located in. It starts at 3.5% plus $0.35 per sale and goes up from there. Sales with 2Checkout are very secure, which can be a blessing and a curse. There’s great fraud protection, but the company can be quick to hold onto your funds if it thinks something doesn’t add up.
Online Payment Tools
These payment platforms can help you start your business and sell in multiple locations. They can be great for managing e-commerce businesses on a cloud-based network, so you don’t have to worry about the cost and effort of developing your own store.
Shopify lets you create a business website on its platform using design templates. You can use the virtual shopping cart to sell your products. It also has user-friendly admin options that make it easy to do things like add products and handle sales.
Shopify is very popular for e-commerce because of its low startup cost compared to other types of businesses. A basic plan only costs $29 a month. There’s also a fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 per online credit card transaction. One downside to using Shopify is that while it’s great for businesses just starting, you may need to purchase more add-ons as your business grows.
WePay started in 2008 as a way to pool money for contributions and donations. It later changed its focus toward offering user-friendly payment processing services to software as a service (SaaS) businesses and crowdfunding. It’s now owned by JPMorgan Chase. You can use WePay with your own website to make a customer’s commerce experience smooth.
WePay charges 2.9% plus $.30 per transaction for credit card and debit payments. It will also process automated clearing house (ACH) bank payments at a lower rate of 1% plus $0.30 per transaction. One downside of WePay is that it doesn’t offer any trial service, so you won’t be able to see how it works before you invest.
Payment tools can help your small business grow
Businesses today need to make sales on different platforms. Quality payment tools can help customers access and purchase your goods or services in various ways. They can also help you manage, design, and keep track of your business finances.
While this has made running a business more complex, it’s also made it more efficient. If you have the right payment tools, you can reach new clients and make it simple for them to do business with you.
There’s so much to worry about when you’re getting your startup going. ZenBusiness has the tools to make starting or growing your small business possible. Starting a small business is hard enough. Let us help out with the administration.