Remember the early days of mobile phones when all we used them for was making calls, texting and if we were lucky, taking a grainy photograph? In a few short years, our expectations of our mobile phones have changed dramatically. We now take for granted their ability to access any information we need at any time.
The devices we now carry around in our pockets have more in common with computers than telephones. They act as jukeboxes, libraries, games consoles, maps and anything else you care to use them for. In the space of time it takes to download an app, almost limitless functionality can be added. We have rapidly embraced this technology and placed it at the centre of our daily lives, even coming to depend on it.
The increasing presence of mobile phones in our everyday shopping experience is set to represent the next retail trend in this country. Already, we have got out of the habit of carrying cash. In 2010, card spending, amounting to £272bn, overtook cash spending at £269bn for the first time ever, and annual card spending is predicted to explode to an estimated £513 billion by 2020.
Mobile payment technology, the ability to take card payment through a mobile phone, will be the next big thing in retail. Shop owners will be able to ditch costly and cumbersome card terminals in favour of a highly mobile, connectable solution that can be integrated with their online accounting system.
This is something the UK is undoubtedly ready for, with smartphone ownership at 61% among UK adults, one of the highest levels in the world.
For small merchants and traders, being able to take card payments affordably through their mobile phones can help them compete with more established retailers for consumers’ money. While the age of payment by plastic will always be associated with the dominance of supermarkets and retailing giants, mobile has the capacity and flexibility to hand the power back to small business owners and boost the great British high street in the coming years.
At Intuit, we have worked hard to ensure that UK small business owners can take advantage of the latest technology and benefit from mobile solutions to never miss a sale. Our new payment solution, Intuit Pay, allows retailers of all sizes to process payments anywhere – from their front garden to a pop-up shop or even in the back of a taxi.
A recent survey by Intuit of 1,000 UK small businesses showed that only 19% of micro-businesses – firms with fewer than 10 employees – currently have the capacity to process card payments, with many put off by the cost of hardware and hefty subscription fees.
This is where flexibility of mobile and power of the cloud can benefit the seller as well as the buyer. Advances in technology have enabled us to produce a chip and PIN device for mobile that complies with UK and EU regulations, giving our small business owners parity with their American counterparts, who have been taking card payments via mobile for several years now.
With an easy and low cost way of taking card payments on the go, over the phone and online, Intuit Pay promises to bring an end to the days of retailers turning customers away because they don’t have the cash to hand, or tradesmen being left waiting weeks to get paid.
Many quick sales that wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago could add up to a big consumer trend. With the power of mobile payment in their back pocket, suddenly the little guys are back in charge once again.
By Mark Little, UK MD, Intuit
About the author – Mark Little is vice president and U.K. managing director of Intuit, a leading global provider of business and financial management solutions for consumers and small businesses and those that serve them, including accounting professionals
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