Contactless payments usage has grown 150% in the United States since March 2019, and the United Kingdom saw £66.5 billion in contactless transactions in the first six months of 2021 alone. Now, more and more corporations and public sector organizations are responding to this demand by adding contactless payments to their payment systems.

As the payments ecosystem evolves, it’s becoming more challenging for small businesses and micro-merchants to remain competitive and retain market share. Many of these businesses are cash-only or may be unable to afford feature-rich payment terminals that accept contactless payments. Processing payments in the field, in settings such as events, street vending and deliveries, can also be difficult. SMB owners must contend with fussy peripherals that easily break or get lost and unwieldy hardware that’s difficult to carry around for on-the-go payments.

Enter tap to mobile: a technology solution that turns smartphones into payment acceptance devices.

To use tap to mobile, all SMBs and micro-merchants need to do is download an app on a smartphone and create a merchant account Once connected to the payment processor, the phone automatically receives its provisioning credentials. This enables SMBs and micro-merchants to accept contactless payments from contactless-enabled cards or devices like phones, wearables and tablets within minutes.

Although tap to mobile is still in the early adoption stages, it’s progressing fast. The solution could ultimately democratize payments, making digital and contactless payments more accessible for SMBs and micro-merchants as an affordable and flexible electronic payment processor.

What small businesses and consumers think about tap to mobile

NMI recently surveyed 300 small business owners and 1,000 consumers in the U.S. and UK to get a snapshot of the market for tap to mobile payments.

We asked small business owners about the potential of using tap to mobile, their contactless payment capabilities and the challenges they face in managing their current payment systems. We also engaged cash-only SMB owners to see why they’re cash-only and what effects being cash-only has on their business.

In addition, we asked consumers about their preferred payment methods to gauge contactless payment usage and their experiences shopping at cash-only businesses. We also took a pulse of consumers’ feelings on tap to mobile and the benefits they think the technology could bring to their shopping experiences.

Here’s what we found when it comes to the market for tap to mobile and how the technology can help small businesses and micro-merchants meet consumers’ evolving payment needs.

1. There’s strong support from small business owners and consumers for tap to mobile payments.

    While tap to mobile is a new, emerging payment option, small business owners and consumers both noted a strong desire to use the technology. Ninety-five percent of SMB owners said they would consider using tap to mobile payment technology, including 92% of current cash-only businesses.

    Additionally, 83% of consumers said they would likely use tap to mobile payments if it were offered by a business. And 85% said they would be more likely to shop at a business that offers tap to mobile as a payment option.

    The top factors that would influence SMB owners’ decisions to offer tap to mobile payments for their businesses were:

    • Cost (i.e., cost of the technology, maintenance, etc.): 66%

    • Customer demand: 55%

    • Security (i.e., the security of business and customer transaction data): 54%

    Tap to mobile solutions address all three of these concerns. First, tap to mobile requires a minimal financial commitment. The solution runs on smartphones that many people already own and only requires businesses to download an app — there’s no need to purchase additional equipment.

    Second, consumers have a clear desire to use tap to mobile. Of consumer respondents who said they’re more likely to shop at a business that offers tap to mobile as a payment option, the top reason why they would be more likely was convenience (76%), followed closely by speed (73%). Moreover, the top shopping situations consumer respondents said they’d most likely pay with tap to mobile were restaurants, deliveries and events.

    Shopping situations consumers would most likely pay with tap to mobile

    1. Restaurants: 76%

    2. Deliveries: 46%

    3. Events: 42%

    4. Street vendors: 36%

    5. In-home appointments: 26%

    6. Donations/Charity: 11%

    7. Street performers: 7%

    Finally, with regard to security: Tap to mobile must adhere to a rigorous data security standard outlined by the PCI Security Standards Council, a global forum of payments industry stakeholders that develops and mandates the adoption of data security standards for safe payments.

    2. Small businesses can’t ignore how important contactless payments are to consumers.

      Although 93% of SMB owner respondents agreed that customers are looking for more contactless payment methods when making a purchase at their business, many still aren’t delivering, especially in the U.S. Over a third of U.S. SMB owners (34%) said they don’t offer contactless payments, compared to only 9% of UK SMB owners.

      When asked why SMBs are unable to accept contactless payments, the majority of owners (55%) said they simply haven’t upgraded their systems to accept contactless payments. And even though customers are seeking more contactless payment methods when they shop, 37% of SMB owners that don’t accept contactless payments said they don’t see the need to offer them.

      However, SMB owners should consider how a lack of contactless payments could impact their businesses: Eighty-nine percent of UK consumer respondents and 76% of U.S. consumer respondents agreed they have preferred using contactless payments whenever possible since the COVID-19 pandemic started. In the UK, contactless credit/debit card payments (76%) were also consumers’ most regularly used payment for in-person purchases. In the U.S., contactless credit/debit is used regularly by over a third of consumers (36%), second only to credit/debit cards with chips (81%).

      In addition, well over half of consumers across both markets (59%) said they’re less likely to return to a business that doesn’t have their preferred payment option, and nearly three-quarters of respondents (72%) said the availability of their preferred payment methods is important when they leave an online review for a business.

      Our data shows that contactless payments are fast becoming a priority for shoppers in both the U.S. and UK, meaning the expectation for businesses of all sizes to offer them will only increase. On the upside, barriers to offering tap to mobile payments are extremely low — SMBs and micro-merchants can quickly adopt the solution to help meet this consumer demand.

      3. Tap to mobile could alleviate many payments pain points for small business owners.

        Just over a quarter (26%) of SMB owner respondents said they were cash-only, while the rest of the non-cash-only group used money transfer apps (70%), mobile card readers (69%) and standalone terminals (52%) to process in-person payments for their businesses.

        When it comes to SMB owners’ challenges setting up their payment systems, the most significant challenges all pertained to onboarding, including paying for the system and system setup (47%), setting up the system equipment and hardware (46%) and training employees how to use the system (39%).

        Additionally, there was common ground between both cash-only and non-cash respondents — both groups were concerned about transaction fees and hardware costs. When asked what would convince them to move away from using their mobile card reader system to a new system for processing mobile payments, SMBs with mobile card readers said the top factors were less expensive hardware (49%) and less expensive transaction fees (47%). Comparatively, when asked why they are a cash-only business, over half of the cash-only SMB respondents (52%) said they don’t want to pay expensive transaction fees for credit card purchases and more than a third (36%) also cited expensive payment systems hardware and equipment.

        Transaction fees aren’t going away. And while it’s understandable why some merchants want to lower operational costs with a cash-only business model, going cash-only comes with costs as well (see point 4).

        Given the challenge of hardware expenses across cash-only and non-cash-only businesses, tap to mobile can help SMBs and micro-merchants reduce these costs and offset the impact of transaction fees. Most SMB owners and employees, as well as micro-merchants, already own smartphones — making the devices an accessible gateway to accepting payments with tap to mobile.

        4. Cash-only business models create negative consequences for small businesses and consumers.

          While cash-only respondents indicated various reasons why they leverage a cash-only business model, there were trade-offs to this choice. The vast majority of cash-only SMB owners (78%) said they’ve lost a sales opportunity in the past month because a customer didn’t have cash available.

          In addition, 84% of cash-only SMB respondents said at least one customer has left a negative review because they only accept cash at their business, with nearly a third (32%) saying customers have left 4-6 negative reviews. On the consumer side, nearly half of respondents (49%) said they were unable to make a purchase because the business they were shopping at only accepted cash. More than a third of these affected consumers (37%) also said they didn’t return to the vendor where their purchase was denied due to a lack of cash.

          Cash-only operations can also affect employee tips. In the past 12 months, 41% of consumer respondents said they were unable to tip a worker anything because they didn’t have enough cash. Twenty percent also said they were unable to tip as much as they wanted to because they didn’t have enough cash.

          The most common settings where respondents said they were unable to make a purchase because the business they were shopping at only accepted cash included food trucks, local restaurants and coffee shops, and farmers’ markets.

          In which of the following settings have you been unable to make a purchase because the business only accepted cash?

          1. Food truck: 40%

          2. Local restaurant/coffee shop: 36%

          3. Farmers’ market: 30%

          4. Street vendor: 28%

          5. Bar: 21%

          6. Festival: 18%

          7. Transportation: 16%

          8. Street performers: 15%

          9. Concert: 14%

          10. Sporting event: 14%

          11. Landscaping services: 6%

          The cons may outweigh the pros when it comes to cash-only business models. Trends like missed sales, negative online reviews, non-returning customers and lack of employee tips all carry significant consequences. However, many cash-only businesses may not be able to incur the costs for an advanced payment solution or don’t want to disrupt their business models. Considering that 92% of cash-only SMB owners are open to using tap to mobile, a shift could be imminent as tap to mobile continues to develop and make digital payments more accessible than ever before.

          With liberty and payments for all

          Tap to mobile is set to revolutionize the entire payments industry by democratizing payments. Hardware and system costs no longer need to be barriers to entry for SMBs and micro-merchants looking to build up their businesses. And with contactless payments becoming more universal among consumers, the arrival of tap to mobile can open up revenue opportunities for SMBs and micro-merchants in this evolving business landscape.

          NMI is at the forefront of developing tap to mobile solutions and we’re ready to help power the next generation of entrepreneurs. Whether you are a payment solution provider or an ISV looking to expand your app’s payment capabilities, we’re ready to serve as your trusted partner. Contact us today to learn more.

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          NMI in the News

          Starbucks’ coronavirus plan demonstrates the future of fast food

          In a recent PaymentsSource article, Vijay Sondhi, NMI’s CEO discusses how Starbucks’ new pickup store concepts will set th...

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          The rise and rise of the unattended kiosk

          Pete Alcock, NMI’s Head of Product Marketing, recently wrote an article for Kiosk Solutions Magazine covering the behavior...

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          NMI in the News

          Business has changed. Use the opportunity to innovate your payments experience

          In a recent article published in Payments Journal, Nick Starai, NMI’s Chief Strategy Officer, shares the importance of SMB...

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          NMI in the News

          The rise of contactless payments in a coronavirus world

          Nick Starai, NMI’s Chief Strategy Officer, recently wrote a guest post for Transaction Trends covering why consumers are t...

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          Insights

          Restaurant software needs new functionality in a coronavirus world

          There aren’t many markets that have been untouched by the coronavirus pandemic. One of the hardest hit has been the restau...

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          NMI Insights

          Fireside Chat: The importance of platform reliability & security in a pandemic

          As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, the importance of having a reliable and secure technology partner is crucial to the...

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          NMI Insights

          COVID-19 Pushes Merchants Online: Are Your Customers Ready?

          For years now, brick-and-mortar retailers have battled against online competitors like Amazon. The consensus advice to mer...

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          Payments companies step up to help amid COVID-19 crisis

          Nick Starai, NMI’s Chief Strategy Officer, was featured in a recent article in the Green Sheet covering how payment compan...

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          NMI Insights

          Is your payment gateway an asset or liability during tough times?

          The COVID-19 pandemic has probably changed our world forever and has tested us in ways we couldn’t possibly imagine. Nearl...

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          The benefits of contactless parking payments during the COVID-19 crisis

          Pete Alcock, NMI’s Head of Product Marketing, was featured in Parking Today discussing how contactless parking payments ar...

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          NMI Insights

          Fireside Chat: Maintaining resilience during COVID-19

          With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it’s hard to know what’s going to be around the corner. Maintaining resilie...

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          NMI Insights

          Contactless Payments Play Significant Role In Curbing Spread of COVID-19

          With the aggressive spread of COVID-19 across the world, governments have advised citizens to minimize social interactions...

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          NMI Insights

          Celebrating What Matters Most — the NMI team!

          Our mission at NMI is to use our expertise to enable more payments, in more ways and more places. In 2019 we hit new heigh...

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          NMI in the News

          The Crisis in Authentication

          NMI CEO Vijay Sondhi was recently featured in Digital Transactions, along with five other payments professionals, discussi...

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          NMI in the News

          IoT Technology Helps Create Seamless Unattended Payments

          Internet of Things (IoT) technology can transform processes to make them more efficient and convenient. NMI CEO Vijay Sond...

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          Insights

          Will Mobile Payments around the World Shape the US Market?

          Retail m-commerce sales in the US totaled $207.2 billion in 2018, and contactless payments have grown modestly — the numbe...

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          NMI Solutions

          How NMI Helped Fattmerchant Enhance Their Product & Enable Omnichannel Growth

          Fattmerchant is a payment solutions and technology provider for merchants and ISVs and has seen tremendous growth for the ...

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          NMI Solutions

          Become a NextGen ISO and Stay Relevant in an Ever-Changing Industry

          Read the headlines from your favorite tech publication or blog on any given day and you’ll probably get an instant headach...

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          Adopting the Pay-Fac Model May Be Easier Than You Think

          Nick Starai, NMI Chief Strategy Officer, was featured in Transaction Trends discussing what the pay-fac model is, the pros...

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          Insights

          A Payment Gateway as a Technology Enabler for ISOs, ISVs, & Payment Facilitators

          Nick Starai, Chief Strategy Officer of NMI, sat down with George on the Payments on Fire podcast to discuss the role of ...

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          NMI in the News

          Tap into Omnichannel Opportunities beyond Retail

          Nick Starai, NMI Chief Strategy Officer, recently discussed the expanding opportunities of omnichannel in the Green Sheet....

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          NMI in the News

          How to Help SMBs Compete and Thrive

          In the latest issue of Digital Transactions, NMI Chief Strategy Officer Nick Starai talks about the benefits of unified ...

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          Insights

          Is the Payments Industry Ready for NextGen ISOs?

          Nick Starai, NMI Chief Strategy Officer, discusses the common characteristics of NextGen ISOs in the latest issue of the...

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          Insights

          Tokenization: New Life Given to Old Technology

          Last month NMI exhibited at RSPA RetailNOW in San Antonio. The ISV and POS dealer-focused event is where retail and rest...

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          Enable E-Commerce Payments With A Single Line of Code

          Online merchants face an uphill battle every day. They have to master branding, merchandising, shopper personas, personali...

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          Insights

          How Payment Solutions Help Ecommerce Companies Move from Clicks to Bricks

          Although ecommerce technology can provide many types of customer-pleasing experiences, it hasn’t yet come up with an alt...

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          Coming Soon: Widespread US Contactless Payments Adoption

          Nick Starai, NMI Chief Strategy Officer, covers how the UK has set the stage for the rise of contactless payments in the...

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          Insights

          Shifting to SaaS Payment Solutions

          For ISVs and ISOs, there are many point of sale (POS) and payments trends having a significant impact on the industry. F...

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          Insights

          NMI exhibiting at WSAA 2019

          NMI will be exhibiting at Western States Acquirers Association (WSAA) September 18-19 at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Reso...

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          Insights

          NMI exhibiting at RetailNOW 2019

          NMI will be exhibiting at RetailNOW 2019 at booth #132 taking place at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center July 28-3...

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          Events

          NMI will be at Money20/20 USA 2019

          NMI will be at Money20/20 USA taking place October 27-30 at The Venetian in Las Vegas. With over 11,500+ attendees, 2,100+...

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          Insights

          NMI to exhibit at MWAA 2019

          NMI will be exhibiting at the annual MidWest Acquirers Association (MWAA) conference 2019 at the Renaissance Schaumburg ...

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          Omnichannel: Growing beyond retail

          In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Jennifer Sherman, SVP Product at NMI, talked about the appealing uses of omnichannel ...

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          Insights

          Contactless Payments: The Next Milestone in U.S. Payments

          Global contactless payment adoption has grown at a fast pace in recent years. Our data shows that 42% of all UK transact...

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          NMI Insights

          The Software and Payments Divide is Shrinking

          It wasn’t all that long ago that software and any payments components were completely separate when it came to the final...

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          NMI in the News

          How Bristol became the contactless capital of the UK

          Bristol was recently revealed to be the contactless capital in the UK. Close to 75% of card transactions in Bristol were...

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          NMI Solutions

          Contactless Payments: What’s Driving Contactless Payment Adoption?

          Contactless payment adoption is growing around the world, and the stage is set for widespread adoption in the U.S. in th...

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          Insights

          The NYC Transit System Could be Key to US Contactless Payment Adoption

          New payment technology may have the potential to make consumer experiences easier and more convenient, but if few people...

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          Insights

          Closing In On Contactless Payments’ Tipping Point

          In an interview with PYMNTS, NMI Chief Strategy Officer Nick Starai, said a number of factors may be leading contactless...

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          Insights

          NMI to exhibit at IPMI

          NMI will be exhibiting at the International Parking & Mobility Institute (IPMI) Expo taking place at the Anaheim Convent...

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          Insights

          NMI to exhibit at CNP Expo 2019

          NMI will be exhibiting at the upcoming CNP Expo 2019 at booth #313. The event will take place at the Marriott Marquis in...

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          Insights

          How Developers Can Offer a Seamless Merchant Experience

          Developers can simplify payments for merchants on their own When it comes to building credit card processing into your ...

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          Insights

          Meet NMI at Parkex 2019

          We’ll be exhibiting at the annual Parkex Exhibition in Birmingham from 2-4 April on Stand #P216. Parkex is one of Europe...

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          NMI in the News

          Omnichannel: The revenge of the brick-and-mortar store

          In an interview with PYMNTS, NMI CEO Vijay Sondhi, discusses Omnichannel and how reality has yet to catch up to its prom...

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          Insights

          Meet us at PIE 2019

          We’ll be exhibiting at the annual Parking Industry Exhibition (PIE) in Rosemont from the 12-13 March on Booth #814. PIE ...

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          NMI in the News

          CEO INSIGHTS: How IoT Payments Make The Old (Transaction) New Again

           In a podcast with Karen Webster of PYMNTS.com, NMI CEO Vijay Sondhi delved into the ways that IoT is bringing every...

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          Insights

          NMI at NEAA 2019

          What: NEAA provides an educational forum that covers the most current industry issues, trends, topics and access for att...

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          Insights

          How payment innovators are using tokenization beyond security

          For years the payments industry has been hard at work developing and enhancing technologies and methodologies to protect s...

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          Insights

          Payment innovations create value for retailers across multiple touch points

          Online commerce will grow at more than six times the rate of in-store sales through 2022, according to research, reaching ...

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          Events

          NMI at Money20/20 USA

          Come check out the new NMI at booth #1837 at Money 20/20 October 21-24 in Las Vegas! We are anticipating another exciting ...

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          Insights

          Here’s why you should demand remote key injection (RKI) from your payment gateway

          Very seldom do we speak with software developers who want to spend their valuable time or their staff’s time on payment in...

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          Insights

          Counter Solutions, Creditcall, Diebold Nixdorf and Sodexo partner to create micro-market ePOS solution for GlaxoSmithKline plc

          When it comes to building a successful software development practice, leading ISVs (independent software vendor) not only...

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          Insights

          All P2PE Solutions Are Not Created Equally

          Security-minded ISVs, ISOs, and merchants know that P2PE is one of the most critical pieces to the puzzle of protecting an...

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          Insights

          Payments Insights: Latest US EMV Migration numbers

          U.S. EMV Numbers Show Improvement, But Highlight Lagging ISVs and Merchants. Consumers today expect their shopping experie...

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          NMI Insights

          Taking a Placement Year at NMI

          Meet Dan! Dan, a student from UWE, undertook a placement year at NMI as a Software Developer. Why did you choose to d...

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          Insights

          Will 2018 be the year of contactless payments in the US?

          In the UK, card payments have overtaken cash payments and now account for more than 50 percent of all retail purchases, of...

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          Insights

          CTO Insights: Can PIN-on-COTS Take EMV The Final Mile In The US?

          Earlier this month, the PCI Security Standards Council released a new security standard that allows for PIN entry on comme...

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          NMI Insights

          The Ultimate White Label Payment Gateway Introduction for Merchant Acquirers

          The Average Payment Gateway What Payment Gateways do Payment gateways play an essential role in the processing of a cred...

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          Insights

          4 Reasons To Love Working at the Creditcall WeWork Office

          With our New York office quickly expanding we wanted to share some experiences of working for Creditcall in the Big Apple....

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          Insights

          CTO Insights: PIN-on-Glass is coming

          Imagine taking a regular mobile phone and turning it into a payment device with a simple app download. That’s the utopian ...

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          Insights

          Transit Insights: Studies highlight transportation desire for modern payment methods

          Over the past couple months, we’ve written about the contactless payment revolution taking place in the mass transit secto...

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          Insights

          Transit Insights: Is Transit ready for the contactless payments revolution?

          Translink explains how it will bring cutting edge fare collection to public transport in Northern Ireland. By Creditcall T...

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          Insights

          10 Top Tips to Studying in Bristol

          Being born and bred in Bristol (though we’re now known worldwide), all of us at Creditcall HQ wanted to welcome new and re...

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          Insights

          Mass Transit Is Ready For Credit & Debit Payments. Are ISVs?

          Today, travelers using the tube and mass transit in the London area have the ability to pay for their fares using their ow...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: SME Retailers Being Neglected When It Comes To Next-Gen Payment

          In today’s world of retail dominated by the Amazon’s of the world, SMEs need to leverage every resource they can to survi...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: Creditcall Named To “1000 Companies to Inspire Britain” List

          At Creditcall, we have a lot to celebrate this month. We were recently named to the “1000 Companies to Inspire Britain” l...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: It’s Time To Address The Payments Needs Of European SMEs

          In past blogs we’ve discussed the many challenges facing software developers when it comes to keeping up with payments se...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: Contactless Payments On The Rise Globally

          The headline says it all. Reports from a variety of sources indicate that contactless payments have risen greatly over the...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: What’s Your Omni-channel Strategy?

          As consumers, we’re all aware of the changes that have taken place in the retail world when it comes to our everyday shop...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: The Struggles Of An ISV In A Payments World

          Software developers with solutions that intersect with the world of payment processing know that business can be fun, e...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: EMV in US still has a long way to go

          The latest EMVCo numbers were published just before the New Year. While the latest numbers only reflect transactions up t...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: Will 2017 bring us the ultimate payment method?

          In my previous post, we discussed the confusion created by the various payment-related products, apps, and services that h...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: Payment methods, will we ever settle on a standard?

          I was recently at a restaurant just outside of London with my wife and when we got to the usual payment experience, we sa...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: New payment methods accelerate EMV

          Over the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing EMV adoption within the United States. Specifically, what’s driving adopti...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: It’s time to address slow EMV transactions

          One of the most common complaints we hear about EMV is the lengthy transaction times compared with standard swipes. While ...

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          NMI Insights

          CEO Insights: Are chargebacks helping or hurting EMV adoption?

          Last week we discussed the current state of EMV adoption in the United States. Today, more than a year past the original O...

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          Insights

          CEO Insights: Don’t let EMV certifications slow you down

          Despite being more than a year past the U.S. EMV liability shift, there’s still much work to be done. Depending on which o...

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          Insights

          Weekly EMV Industry News Roundup - 11 August 2016

          U.S. Payments Forum updates minimum requirements for US EMV chip deployment Finextra To help merchants and acquirers dev...

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          NMI in the News

          Pay-Fac Sooners and Boomers

          Payment Facilitators (Pay-Fac) may be the next wave of “timing is everything” for the payments industry and could bring a ...

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          Insights

          Weekly EMV Industry News Roundup - 4 August 2016

          Square’s Pricey Bet Pays Off as Merchants Pick Readers that Combine NFC + EMV PaymentsSource The tough move from free...

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          Insights

          Weekly EMV Industry News Roundup - 28 July 2016

          Will the Olympics ‘payment ring’ jumpstart NFC demand CSO Near Field Communication (NFC) – the “mobile wallet” techno...

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          Insights

          Weekly EMV Industry News Roundup - 22 July 2016

          EMV Group Rebrands to go Beyond Chip Cards PaymentsSource The industry-led EMV Migration Forum is changing its name a...

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          Insights

          Weekly EMV Industry News Roundup - 15 July 2016

          Visa’s mobile payments push goes for Olympic Gold PaymentWeek The Olympics—whether summer or winter variety—are a gre...

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          Insights

          Weekly EMV Industry News Roundup - 30 June 2016

          Move could speed retailers’ shift to secure chip cards Chicago Tribune The switch from magnetic stripe credit and debit ...

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          NMI in the News

          Will Pay-Facs Kill the VAR Model?

          Integrated payments has been the darling of the finserv industry for years now, but it’s possible a category killer is loo...

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