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
Street vendors: 36%
In-home appointments: 26%
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?
Food truck: 40%
Local restaurant/coffee shop: 36%
Farmers’ market: 30%
Street vendor: 28%
Street performers: 15%
Sporting event: 14%
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 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...Learn More
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+...Learn More
NMI to exhibit at MWAA 2019
NMI will be exhibiting at the annual MidWest Acquirers Association (MWAA) conference 2019 at the Renaissance Schaumburg ...Learn More
Omnichannel: Growing beyond retail
In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Jennifer Sherman, SVP Product at NMI, talked about the appealing uses of omnichannel ...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
NMI to exhibit at IPMI
NMI will be exhibiting at the International Parking & Mobility Institute (IPMI) Expo taking place at the Anaheim Convent...Learn More
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...Learn More
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 ...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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 ...Learn More
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...Learn More
NMI at NEAA 2019
What: NEAA provides an educational forum that covers the most current industry issues, trends, topics and access for att...Learn More
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...Learn More
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 ...Learn More
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 ...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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....Learn More
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 ...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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 ...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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 ...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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...Learn More
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 ...Learn More
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...Learn More