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Store Operations

One for the Little Guy

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Retailers are slowly moving toward acceptance of mobile payments, but smaller merchants have often felt left out of the mix. Many processors who handle retail payment transactions charge extra fees on mobile transactions, pricing out smaller businesses that want to let customers pay for goods or services via a mobile device.

But an offering from McLean, Va.-based Sage Payment Solutions initially developed to handle such businesses as charitable organizations or medical service providers is now being directed at small retailers.

Although there are a number of mobile offerings in the market, what is different about Sage is the pricing. It comes with a set-up fee that can run as low as $10.95 per month with no additional mobile processing fees.

“We view mobile devices as an extension of most small businesses’ payment options,” says Greg Hammermaster, president of Sage Payment Solutions. “But most mobile offerings require retailers to pay extra fees on transaction devices beyond what they would pay on other point-of-sale devices.”

Hammermaster notes that some mobile offerings add 1 percent plus upwards of 37 cents for each transaction. While this pricing may be acceptable to businesses that don’t process a lot of credit card transactions, it can be quite costly for businesses using mobile devices to process credit cards on a regular basis, he says.

Instead, Sage charges a standard monthly payment processing fee that has no additional surcharges for mobile transactions. “We believe that the exorbitant transaction fees being charged in the market today do not work in the retail environment,” Hammermaster says. “We believe that retailers should not have to pay more on mobile transactions.”

Compatibility counts
Security is an important component of any mobile product, and the Sage solution provides end-to-end encryption and is compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. All customer data flowing through Sage Mobile Payments is encrypted before it leaves a customer’s cell phone and no personal data is retained on the mobile computing device.

While many mobile services are limited to a small group of compatible phones, Sage’s service is compatible with more than 400 phones.

“A lot of businesses have sales reps in the market and they are all using different types of phones,” Hammermaster says. “You need to be compatible with all of them or you will have to require them all to purchase new phones — a costly endeavor.”

Sage is working on tests to integrate the delivery of coupons or gift cards via mobile phones. In such applications, customers can get a coupon texted to them, and can then click on a link to redeem the coupon online or present their phone at a retail location’s POS. Among the more obvious applications for this capability would be fast-food or pizza delivery restaurants, Hammermaster says.

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