man paying in cafe with credit card
Implementing seamless payment methods will not only benefit you but will also improve your customers' experiences. — Getty Images/jacoblund

As a small business owner, you only get paid if your customers pay regularly and on time. This means ensuring your ability to receive and accept payments — as well as the variety of payment options you offer — is a top priority.

This is the best way to improve the customer experience and make it easier for your business to make money. Here are five ways your business can accept payments in 2019.

Credit and debit cards

75% of customers say they prefer to pay with a debit or credit card, whether they’re paying online or in person. The way you’ll go about accepting these payments largely depends on the type of business you’re running.

If you run a brick-and-mortar business, you’ll need a card reader and a merchant account. A merchant account is a bank account that allows businesses to accept payments in numerous ways.

If you want to accept online credit and debit card payments, you’ll need an e-commerce website and a payment gateway. A payment gateway encrypts any information submitted on your payment page. This ensures sensitive customer information stays safe.

Keep in mind that if you accept online payments, it’s your job to ensure that personal customer information stays secure. So make sure you choose a payment gateway that’s PCI (payment card industry) compliant.

[Read:3 Methods for Accepting Card Payments]

ACH processing

ACH processing is another popular way to accept payments. Monitored by the National Automated Clearing House Association, this method allows customers to give you their bank account and routing numbers for electronic payment. This works especially well for recurring and subscription payments.

There are several advantages to choosing ACH processing. ACH tends to come with lower fees that credit or debit cards. And it’s more secure than having customers write you a check every month.

ACH will also save you time because you’ll input the information once and the money will be automatically withdrawn as arranged. This will also help you improve your cash flow and create predictable revenue.

Your choice of payment acceptance will depend on the type of business you run.

Recurring billing subscription

When it comes to paying bills, 35% of customers dislike having to keep track of multiple due dates. But some customers are wary of ACH payments and don’t want to give you access to their bank account information.

That’s why it’s a good idea to give your customers the option to sign up for a subscription billing plan. Customers can sign up for automatic monthly payments on their credit or debit card. This ensures that you get paid on time and it makes life easier for your customers.

PayPal, Stripe and Square

Three top players in accepting payments are PayPal, Stripe and Square. None of the three requires you to set up a merchant account, though each method has its differences. Your choice of payment acceptance will depend on the type of business you run.

If you’re new to accepting online payments, PayPal is a good option. PayPal allows businesses to accept online payments without setting up a merchant account first. To accept PayPal payments in person, you will need to purchase a card reader and have the PayPal app downloaded.

Like PayPal, Stripe is also commonly used online. It is easily implemented and is known for its seamless and efficient checkout process.

If you run a brick-and-mortar business, Square is a top choice because it allows you to turn your smart device (smartphone, tablet) into a point-of-sale (POS) device by attaching a magstripe, chip or Bluetooth card reader.

[Read: Cashless Commerce is Coming]

Contactless payment systems

Contactless payments allow customers to pay by waving their card or device over the POS system and the payment is done wirelessly. Customers can make payments quickly and accurately without having to enter a PIN or sign anything.

The U.S. has been relatively slow to catch on to contactless payments. In 2018, only 3% of cards in the U.S. were contactless as opposed to 64% in the U.K. And contactless payments are the preferred payment method for 90% of Australians.

However, just because the U.S. has been slower to adopt this trend doesn’t mean you should ignore it.

Companies like Visa and Mastercard are beginning to offer contactless cards to their customers. And both Apple and Android encourage customers to use their mobile wallets, which make contactless payments easier.

Offering contactless payments to customers is much easier than it sounds. The first place to start is by updating your equipment with a near-field communication (NFC) reader. And depending on your current system, you may need to upgrade your software as well.

CO— does not review or recommend products or services. For more information on choosing the best credit card processors, visit our friends at Business.com.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published August 12, 2019