6 Touchless Payments Apps for Small Businesses

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Covid-19 accelerated the shift from cash to digital payments, but as the use of mobile wallets grew, many smaller retailers got left behind. Purchasing new point-of-sale hardware was too expensive for merchants already struggling during the pandemic. As larger brands pivoted with ease, smaller merchants questioned how they could adapt.

As is so often the case, technology vendors that saw a need stepped in with a solution. The latest wave of touchless payment solutions are designed for small merchants dealing with the fallout from the pandemic. Contactless payments went from being “nice to have” to a being an essential service for retailers in 2020, as consumers around the world discovered that they really didn’t want to touch cash or POS hardware while they were making purchases at local stores.

This sort of behavior shift is expected to continue well into 2022, as nearly one third of U.S. adults now say they make zero purchases using cash in a given week. According to a report from Experian, one in 10 millennials says they use their digital wallet for “every purchase.”

If smaller brick-and-mortar merchants hope to recapture shoppers lost during the pandemic, they’ll need to cater to this market and adopt the technology necessary to facilitate contactless payments.

Here are six examples of touchless payment apps that small businesses can try.

6 Touchless Payments Solutions

1. PayPal

PayPal has one of the most well-known names in the digital payment space, with a long track record of working with small and mid-size merchants. Just last year, the company announced that it would be giving its SMB users the ability to accept contactless payments in-store using a QR code functionality within the PayPal mobile app. To pay at a local business, consumers just need to scan a QR code posted at the POS, enter the amount due, and send the money to the business in real time. The benefit here is that there is no special equipment required and minimal startup costs for businesses. However, customers do need to have the PayPal app downloaded on their devices to use touchless payments.

2. Apple Pay

Apple’s mobile wallet is one of the most frequently used wallets in the U.S., which means businesses that accept Apple Pay can expect to see a large amount of traffic flowing in this direction. To accept Apple Pay, merchants need to already have a POS terminal that’s capable of handling contactless transactions. Most terminals that are NFC or contactless payment capable can handle Apple Pay. The biggest benefits to consumers using Apple Pay are security and convenience. For merchants, the benefit is that there are no additional fees or special equipment associated with Apple Pay to use the service, so businesses that already have contactless technology should be able to set this up seamlessly.

3. Google Pay

Google Pay is another digital wallet that’s very popular among consumers in the U.S. Google Pay’s online payment system powers in-app, online, and in-person contactless purchases on mobile devices, including tablets and watches. Similar to Apple Pay, Google Pay doesn’t actually process or authorize user transactions. It just passes the information on to the payment network in a secure way. Stores can accept Google Pay if they have a contactless-enabled payment terminal with an NFC reader. Google does not currently charge businesses any fees for accepting Google Pay.

4. Square

Square’s contactless chip reader does cost money ($49), but for that price merchants can accept contactless cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and chip cards right at the counter. Square says its contactless and chip reader works quickly. Merchants that go this route don’t have to rely on shoppers to scan QR codes or download third-party apps in order to pay in-store. Square’s reader connects wirelessly to the merchant’s Apple or Android device via Bluetooth LE. Every payment costs a flat rate of 2.6% + 10¢.

5. Venmo

Venmo has its own touchless payment solution, which the company introduced in 2020. Sole proprietors who take advantage of Venmo’s Business Profiles can print a special QR code that is then posted near the store’s register. Customers who prefer a touchless experience can tap the “scan” button in the Venmo mobile app and follow the prompts to pay in-store through their phones. Businesses also have the option to scan the customer’s QR to accept payments that way. Although Business Profiles for sole proprietors do not currently come with any fees, it’s expected that certain fees will be added in the future.

6. QuickBooks GoPayment

For merchants that already use QuickBooks for accounting, the company’s GoPayment mobile payment solution is relatively seamless. GoPayment is designed for businesses that are looking for a basic mobile POS to accept in-person payments. Merchants can order a free mobile card reader to set up at the cash wrap. Shoppers just need to bring their contactless cards “close” to the reader in order for the transaction to go through. In addition to contactless cards, QuickBooks GoPayments also supports Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.