What You Need To Know About Mobile Payments
Sean McGowanMay 15th, 20176 minute read
Sean is a technical researcher & writer at Codal, authoring blog posts on topics ranging from UX design to the Internet of Things. Working alongside developers, designers, and marketers, Sean helps support the writing team to ensure Codal produces engaging web content of the highest quality. When not writing about the latest innovations in app design, Sean can be found cooking, watching old movies, or complaining about the shortcomings of his favorite Philadelphia sports teams.
The greatest conqueror of the 21st century isn't a human; it's a device. Like the insatiable explorers that came before it, the smartphone has not just invaded our everyday lives—it has almost completely replaced our cameras, our shopping carts, and now, our wallets.
Services like Samsung Pay or Apple Pay offer the ability to make transactions without ever pulling out a credit card. The latter reported a growth rate of one million new users per week at the end of 2016. By the end of 2017, experts project mobile payments will hit $721.4 billion.
So if you’re reading this because you’ve decided to add payment functionality into your application or website, congratulations—you’ve recognized the inevitable and are capitalizing now. But actually implementing a mobile payment platform is easier said than done.
Here’s a solid breakdown of the obstacles you’ll need to tackle and the factors you’ll have to carefully consider when injecting a mobile payment feature into your app or site.
The Problem With PCI
Let’s get the bad out of the way first: if you’re going to support mobile payments, you’ll need to comply to the standards set by the PCI security council. These numerous and often convoluted rules & regulations take time and effort to traverse, and even more resources to implement.
Even if your website is PCI-compliant, it won’t necessarily transfer to a mobile version. However, the silver lining in all of this is the security of sensitive financial information. It may be a necessary evil, but PCI promotes the safety of your customers and builds trust towards your brand.
But to mitigate the hassle, it’s important to choose the type of mobile payment solution for your platform that maximizes usability while minimizing compliance requirements.
The Precise Payment Type
Choosing the right type of mobile payment platform to suit your business can be a daunting task. From an enterprise POS software to a more customized transaction solution, there are several ways to add a payment feature, each with their own pros and cons.
Typically, mobile POS systems require few PCI compliance needs. You can plug in a Square reader to any mobile device and have customers swiping in seconds. However, it’s an off-brand solution that won’t offer any personalization or UX—you’re selling in a third party environment.
Mobile “widgets” are a bit more flexible, and act more as an integration into your existing app or site, rather than an entirely separate POS software. Still though, you’re locked into their template, and left with virtually no options in terms of customization of UX optimization.
The most robust solution is to go through an app development agency, which can help select and tailor a mobile payment platform that checks every box on your requirements list. With this option, you’re ensuring your smartphone payment functionality works specifically for you & your clients.
Going through an app agency also alleviates the PCI compliance hassle—most development agencies already have experience jumping through security protocol hoops, which saves you time, money, and probably a headache or two.
Don’t Forget The UX
Much of my criticism towards other mobile payment platforms results from its lack of UX options. You’re stuck with a third party service’s interface and functionality, which may not suit the needs of your user base.
When implementing mobile payments into your app or website, UX is often forgotten. It’s not enough to just offer the functionality— the feature becomes useless if its poor design frustrates your customers.
In fact, the payment process is arguably the component of your platform that requires the most careful UX design. The checkout procedure is extremely susceptible to user frustration, accounting for a near-majority of reasons customers abandon their shopping carts.
I’ve written at length about leveraging UX techniques to streamline the payment process, many of which are absolutely critical in ensuring your customers complete their purchase.
You’ll need to support both card-free payment options, like Apple Pay or Android Pay, as well as physical cards. For the latter, there’s several no-brainer UX practices to implement to make checkout completely hassle-free.
First, smart formatting. If the customer is filling out forms, they should be responsive to whatever format the customer is inputting. For cards, a popular feature is automatically advancing to the next field whenever four digits are input, and recognizing the card type based off of its number.
Some apps & mobile sites have chosen to eschew form-filling entirely, instead opting for the customer to take a picture of both sides of their card, and scanning the photos for the payment info. This is a relief for those of us with larger thumbs, who are prone to typos when filling out forms via mobile.
Other UX choices to consider are a checkout progress tracker, a order review section, an emphasis on the security of your platform—to touch every UX technique necessary for the payment process would require another article or more.
Let’s Get Started
It seems like an overwhelming endeavor, but supplementing your app or website with mobile payment functionality doesn’t have to be such an arduous task. By enlisting the services of an app development company, you’re freeing yourself from burdensome task of PCI compliance.
While that still leaves the issue of implementing your mobile payment feature with informed UX design, there are agencies that specialize in both UX design and development. At that point, adding mobile payments becomes trivial.
Tapping into the mobile payment channel has never been easier. So what are you waiting for?