As a child, did you ever think that one day - somewhere in the distant future - you'd be able to pay merchants by simply waving a small device?
Well that day has come. Smartphones have drastically changed the way we talk, shop and pay in the past decade or so. Forget cash and swiping credit cards - mobile payments are the future, and many companies have taken advantage of this technology by releasing their own apps and devices that can make transactions much easier for both buyers and sellers.
So where do you begin?
Step 1: Acquire an NFC reader
Before you can look into picking a technology to read mobile payments, you need something that can interpret them. What you're looking for is a near field communication reader, or a device that allows the NFC chips in your credit cards to wirelessly communicate with your smartphone and cash register.
The appearance of these devices varies depending on the vendor. Some readers can attach to your preexisting credit card processor or your tablet, while others are freestanding devices made specifically for this function.
Chances are, you've seen these readers at some of your favorite stores. For example, Starbucks accepts this form of payment across many of its locations. Search around for touch-payment devices that have this functionality to ensure your company can easily offer this service to buyers.
Step 2: Learn about the services
After you've picked up the technology required to interpret your customers' data, you may want to become familiar with the more recent payment software your visitors may be using.
It should come as no surprise that Google has developed its own mobile payment technology. But Google Wallet goes far beyond mere phone payments. Through this app, users can add money to their Wallet Balance, send money to friends or family members, and pay merchants by tapping their phone screen with Tap and Pay.
Apple users will be quick to note that iPhones and other iOS devices do not work with the Tap and Pay function. Only Android phones can use this feature, as most of these phones come equipped with NFC functionality, whereas few iPhones have it.
But Apple users can breathe easy, as Apple Pay permits any person with an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus to pay by these means. Newer versions of the iPhone are compatible with NFC technology, but only when used in conjunction with Apple Pay. Similar to Google Wallet, Apple Pay allows your customers to upload their credit and debit cards to the app, then pay by tapping the NFC reader.
Technologically savvy Apple fans who have purchased the Apple Watch can even pay merchants with this device. In order to pay with your watch, you'll need to have an iPhone 6 or higher, Apple Pay and an Apple Watch, but there's something effortlessly cool about paying with the flick of your wrist.