Don’t miss the real-time payments train

Patrick Stafford /

The real-time payments revolution is exciting, daunting and definitely something small business needs to be aware of.

ANZ has released a new app allowing small merchants to make credit card transactions without any EFTPOS infrastructure. If your customer runs out of cash, you just run the credit card details, and the transaction goes through (supposedly) without a hitch.

On the face it, this can only be a good thing for merchants. More payment methods mean better choices for consumers; this in turn means a better reputation for providing lots of choice. It all works for everyone.

But the release of this ANZ app is a yet another distinct, if subtle, reminder of why businesses need to make sure they’re getting on this train sooner rather than later.

Consider the following.

In September, Jack Dorsey succeeded in raising more than $US200 million for his mobile payments start-up, Square. It put the valuation above $US3 billion and made him a billionaire as well.

Earlier this year, PayPal revealed a competitor of its own. In a shocking surprise that no one saw coming, the payments company made the device the shape of a triangle. Flattering imitation aside, it’s yet another choice for consumers.

And last month the Reserve Bank made it quite clear it wants real-time payments to be up and running in the next few years. It specifically mentioned both merchants and consumers as beneficiaries.

Just think how much different your business would be if you could conduct real-time payments online. It would change your cashflow and make it easier to simply do business.

So what does this all mean?

It’s pretty simple. Given all of the money floating around the mobile payments space, and the rumour that Apple is going to do the same thing, then you’d be doing yourself a disservice to ignore what’s happening here for much longer.

Eventually, your customers are going to ask – “what do you mean you don’t have an iPhone for making transactions?” or something similar.

It sounds like a long way off, right? And it is. This is why now is the perfect opportunity to be getting in on the ground floor with advancements in mobile payments. All of a sudden, you become the company that is opening yourself up to new ideas and new methods of payment.

This isn’t a trend that is going to go away. It’s coming. You can’t avoid it, so you should at least make sure you’re ahead of the game.

You can follow Patrick Stafford on Twitter @pdstafford.

Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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