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Moving into mobile payment optionsMoving into mobile payment options

In the Jan. 13 edition of Flight School Business, we discussed traditional payment options—cash, personal check, credit card. Now let’s look at some of the mobile payment options gaining ground among businesses—options that, based on my experience, are worth considering.

Square is a simple, no-frills transaction processing utility that works on smartphones and tablets after an app is downloaded. An account must be created, and a bank account to accept deposits must be tied to it. A card swiper that plugs into the microphone jack on a phone/tablet is sent to the account holder. Payments from credit or debit cards can be accepted by swiping the card or entering the card number manually (Square charges slightly different percentages for each type of transaction). Receipts can be emailed or texted to customers.

Funds received are reconciled daily, and most users see funds accepted in their bank accounts within one business day—a very fast turnaround.

I recently learned of a downside to Square. When a charge is disputed, Square firmly places itself on the side of the paying individual, not the party receiving the payment. There appears to be no motivation or process to let the vendor plead its side of the dispute. This policy left a friend of mine out of pocket for more than $3,500 for services provided to an unscrupulous customer.

Intuit (Quickbooks). Many flight schools use QuickBooks for accounting, and it includes credit card processing options for dedicated terminals as well as mobile devices.

A credit card reader that connects to a device through the microphone jack is available. Receipts can be emailed or texted to customers.

One big advantage is that Intuit’s solution can also tie to invoices generated in QuickBooks, allowing direct payment application to invoices. Intuit also tends to have some of the lowest processing rates (advertised at $0.50 per ACH payment or 1.75 percent per swipe), and the transfer of funds to the vendor’s account usually occurs within 48 hours.

PayPal has long been a preferred payment partner of eBay, and it has proven itself to be secure and reputable. It now offers payment in an app that also can read credit and debit cards and accept payments. In addition, PayPal can process checks, cash payments, or direct transfers from customers who have PayPal accounts. Receipts can be emailed or texted to customers.

PayPal’s fees for transactions are similar to those of other services, and the company is known to have great vendor support. One drawback is that the vendor must request the disbursement of funds to its bank account—it isn’t automatic. The disbursement typically shows up in a vendor’s account in one to two days. There are different types of accounts, depending on the level of funds you are processing. The basic account levels are free; additional levels may have some fees.

It’s pretty new, but Apple Pay will likely become a big player in the mobile payment market. Right now it is limited to iPhone 6 users, but with plans to make it available on Apple watches and other devices, users will be able to pay by just touching a device to a reader or using fingertip recognition on a device. Many banks and retailers are jumping on board with this payment option, so it is logical to think some of your customers may do the same. This payment process is worth watching, learning more about, and maybe using with your customers in the near future.

If you want to see more options for mobile payment, check out the Business News Daily article “27 Ways to Accept Mobile Payment.”

An important part of serving your customers is making it easy for them to compensate you for the services you provide. As methods of payment become increasingly mobile, flight training providers and instructors have even more tools available that allow them to get compensated for their services.

Jason Blair

Jason Blair is a National Association of Flight Instructors master flight instructor and a designated pilot examiner. 

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