(Incred-A-Bowl in Bend is one of many local businesses utilizing touchless payment systems | Photo courtesy of Incred-A-Bowl)
In a world where the fewer surfaces we touch the better, it’s not surprising that many businesses are turning to touchless payment methods for their customers. With a pandemic that has a highly contagious virus at its core, companies are finding a variety of ways to help keep their employees and clients safe.
According to data published by Square, a payments processing company, Bend small businesses are leading the way in offering these new, safer payment methods for consumers. Based on Square’s internal data of hardware device sales between May 8 and June 8, Bend ranked in the top ten for touchless system sales per capita. Square reports that it has seen the number of businesses moving to cashless payments skyrocket nationwide in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, from 8 percent at the beginning of March to 31 percent by the end of April.
As defined by Investopedia.com, touchless, or “contactless” payments are a secure method for customers to purchase products or services using a debit, credit or smartcard — also known as a chip card — by using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology or near-field communication (NFC). They are also referred to as tap-and-go by some banks and retailers. Examples of non-credit or debit card contactless payments include transit cards, Apple Pay, Android Pay and Google Wallet. To use the system, a consumer taps the payment card near a point-of-sale terminal equipped with the technology. These types of payments are considered a safe and quick way to purchase an item or service since they don’t require consumers to input their PINs.
Square reports that more Bend businesses per capita than nearly anywhere else in the U.S. have been revamping their checkout stations to provide low- and no-contact payments for consumers, from enabling mobile and watch payments to making dipping a card even safer. “As businesses reopen, we have seen rising demand for Square payments hardware, especially as businesses that may have paused operations due to shelter-in-place orders look for ways to ensure they can minimize contact between their employees and customers to keep everyone safer,” said a Square spokesperson.
Gary “Chip” Rothenberger, owner of Incred-A-Bowl food truck restaurant in the Old Mill District (See accompanying sidebar), is one such business owner who utilizes the touchless system offered by Square. “We were using the Square handheld device originally, but with our new trailer, and the concerns about the virus, we decided to upgrade to their full touchless POS,” he said. “We love it.” Rothenberger said that although the system is a bit expensive, it has worked well for him. “Square offers a great payment plan option, which we took advantage of.” He said the touchless POS was simple to install, and that his customers appreciate it as a payment option, though he also accepts cash.
Square and other providers offer several payment devices that enable sellers to make touch-free sales in whatever way works best for them and their customers, whether that involves having buyers self-swipe a credit card, dip a chip into the reader or go fully contactless with tap-to-pay credit cards or Apple Pay and Google Pay. Square also handles the backend payments infrastructure, and offers point-of-sale software that equips businesses with an efficient checkout system and add-on services that can track inventory, book appointments or handle other business tasks depending on needs.
PayPal is another of the leading online payment systems that offers POS services. Its Commerce Platform allows businesses to accept payments in-store or on-the-go with a card reader and a smartphone or tablet. Customers can pay however they wish — by credit card, debit card or via contactless payments such as Apple Pay. Card and contactless payments can be accepted in person with a selection of chip, tap and swipe readers and accessories that are compatible with most smartphones and tablets. QR codes are used to receive touch-free payments; businesses need only to download and display a QR code to start accepting payments, with no hardware, software or card reader required.
In addition to the safety measures that touchless systems offer, Rothenberger said he also appreciates the cost savings these payment methods can provide. “For years, the banks would lie to their customers about discount rates and hidden charges, to the point that it was almost impossible to get a straight answer as to what you were actually paying.” He added, “With a published discount rate of 1.5 percent, I would reconcile my payments at the end of the year and I was paying $35,000-$40,000 per year in processing fees on $1,100,000 in sales, or roughly 3.5 to 4 percent, which is a huge hit for a small business.” He added, “After many years in the restaurant industry, I am happy to see platforms like Square being offered to small businesses.”
For business owners looking to streamline POS purchasing and create a touchless payment process for customers, here is a listing of companies to check out:
- Square — Variety of POS, ecommerce, recurring billing payment methods (squareup.com)
- PayPal — Payment processing services integration, POS integration, recurring billing (paypal.com)
- Forte — Multiple payment gateways, payment processing services integration, POS integration, recurring billing (go.forte.net)
- EzPay America — Payment fraud prevention, payment processing services integration, POS integration, recurring billing (ezpayamerica.com)
- Merchant One — POS systems, mobile payments, wireless programs, ecommerce (merchantoneprocessing.com)
- Flagship — In-store, mobile, online or mail order/telephone orders (MOTO) (flagshipcreditcardprocessing.com)
- Helcim — Card reader/POS, ecommerce, payments app, recurring, invoicing (helcim.com)
- Clover — POS systems for both sides of the counter (clover.com)