do I need a mobile merchant account - credit card, terminal, and phone on a table

Do I need a mobile merchant account?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The evolution of technology has made it easier than ever before to start a business. And while your small business may not have a storefront, you’ll still need to take different types of payments from customers. With the different payment options available to consumers, they expect your business to be able to handle a variety of payment methods. So making sure you can process credit cards, debit cards, and other payment methods is essential for small businesses like yours.

In this article, we’ll talk about mobile merchant accounts and how all businesses – both on the go and brick-and-mortar – can benefit from them. Before diving into mobile merchant accounts, let’s review the concept of merchant accounts and why they’re important for businesses.

A primer on merchant accounts

Before getting into mobile merchant accounts, it’s important to make sure you have a firm grasp on the broader idea of a merchant account. Merchant accounts allow businesses to accept multiple forms of payment, including credit or debit card transactions, Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions, mobile payments, and online payments. Businesses can work with a bank or other financial institution to set up a merchant account themselves, or they can work with a payment processor to utilize the payment processor’s merchant account.

Typically, more newly-established businesses will lean toward working with a third party payment processor because of the strict underwriting requirements banks have. Either way, your business needs a merchant account to accept payments at your business. Without a merchant account, businesses like yours can’t accept payments besides cash. 

During a transaction, the acquiring bank or the payment processor receives funds for the transaction and then moves them to your merchant account. Once funds from a transaction are placed into a merchant account, the transaction is complete. After the transaction completes, the funds are then transferred into your business’s bank account. Merchant accounts essentially serve as a holding account to protect banks and payment processors so they don’t get burned by fraud or chargebacks.

Now that you know more about merchant accounts and how they work, let’s take a closer look at mobile merchant accounts.

What is a mobile merchant account?

As you probably guessed, mobile merchant accounts allow your business to take payments on the go, even right from your mobile phone. That means you’ll be able to accept and process mobile, debit, and credit card payments from all of the card networks – Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. Working with your mobile merchant services provider, you’ll also be able to accept EMV chip-enabled cards and NFC contactless payments like Apple Pay®, Google Pay™, and Samsung Pay®.

After processing these customer payments, a mobile merchant account allows your business to transfer those payments into your business bank account

A mobile merchant account also lets you turn your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet (like an iPhone or iPad) into a virtual credit card terminal. Using these mobile devices along with a mobile app and a credit card reader, you’ll be able to accept and process customer card payments. This evolution in payment technology makes it easier than ever to accept payments on the go. Mobile credit card processing can help your business reach new audiences while streamlining the payment process and customer experience.

You might be wondering if your business needs a mobile merchant account and mobile payment processing. For small businesses like yours, mobile merchant accounts are essential to access processing services if your company does in-person business outside of a brick-and-mortar store. Some common examples of on-the-go businesses include mobile food trucks, street vendors, businesses that only work trade shows or craft fairs, and service industry merchants who make house calls – like pet service providers and handymen. If your small business is similar, you could most likely benefit from a mobile merchant account.

Even brick-and-mortar stores can benefit from mobile merchant accounts. Especially during busy times of the year like holiday shopping, a mobile merchant account gives your business the capability to perform checkouts with customers anywhere in the store. That can reduce wait times for customers and help your business process more sales, while alleviating overcrowding at the cash registers.

A mobile merchant account can also come in handy if you sell products outside your store, like a sidewalk sale. That makes it easy for customers to checkout outside, right on the spot. This ease of checkout helps to improve your customers’ experience and encourages repeat business. Customers will appreciate getting on their way, while you’ll avoid a bottleneck inside your store.

No matter your business, a mobile merchant account can fit into your business plan to give you and your customers more flexibility. Finding a mobile merchant services provider who can help you with mobile credit card processing is easier than you think. If you are currently working with a merchant services provider or credit card processor, chances are they can also help you accept mobile payments or provide your business with mobile point of sale (mPOS) equipment. Now, let’s talk about a few benefits of mobile merchant accounts.

What benefits do mobile merchant accounts offer?

There are many benefits to a mobile merchant account. When you have a mobile merchant account, you’ll typically work with a mobile merchant account provider to customize the experience to ensure you have the tools and software you need to be successful. These tools can include an mPOS system, a mobile card reader, and software that integrates with your mobile payments setup to help you keep your business running smoothly. Here are some key benefits of a mobile merchant services account:


  • Secure payments – one of the biggest factors in taking mobile payments is making sure transactions are safe and secure for your business and your customers. Mobile merchant services providers can help ensure safe and secure payment solutions in a few different ways. One of the biggest ways is shouldering the responsibility of fraud and helping to ensure payment card industry (PCI) compliance at your business. Here are a few other ways they ensure secure payments:
    • Encryption: This process encodes data with a specific “key” that unlocks the data. The only parties who have access to this encryption key are the sender and the bank processing the transaction.
    • Tokenization: This process substitutes a random string of numbers for a customer’s card number. This random string of numbers is used in the transaction, so if the token gets intercepted, it can’t be used for any other transaction.
    • Dynamic authentication: This is using customer information to confirm transactions. Credit cards and debit cards with EMV chip technology are an example of dynamic authentication, as they’re more secure than magstripe cards.
  • Fast payment processing – Because you're accepting payments through a mobile virtual terminal, payments to your business will be faster than waiting for checks to clear. And, if you're doing business with other businesses, mobile merchant accounts cut down the time it takes to track down open invoices and receive payments from other business owners.
  • Inventory tracking – When you work with a merchant services provider, they will most likely have tools that work with your mPOS system to track your business’s inventory. With a few clicks, you’ll be able to see your inventory in real time and compare that to your sales. This integration can help you stay on top of your products, even on the go.
  • Real-time reporting – Another benefit of a mobile merchant account is the ability to access reporting data from your mobile sales. With real-time sales reports and notifications in the mobile app, data that can help drive your business is right at your fingertips. This data can give you critical insights on your business at large, as well as narrow in on more product-specific data.
  • Low-cost solution – Mobile merchant accounts can help you get your business up and running. Compared to full systems, they're a low-cost processing solution that usually have low monthly fees and competitive pricing. It's important to shop around so that you can ensure the best processing rates for your business.
  • Text/email receipts – When you utilize an mPOS system from your mobile merchant services provider, you’ll have the ability to email or text receipts to your customers, providing a fast and easy way to stay on top of records. 
  • Offline transactions – mPOS systems can also include offline functionality, which helps your business by still taking payments even if you don’t have access to wifi. 
As you can see, mobile merchant accounts can benefit businesses of all kinds. Whether you’re a mobile food truck, a popular brick-and-mortar store, or somewhere in-between, your small business can put a mobile merchant account to work to help increase your sales and improve your customer experience.

Ready to work with a payment processor who can help you set up a mobile merchant account?

Heartland is the point of sale, payments and payroll solution of choice for entrepreneurs that need human-centered technology to sell more, keep customers coming back and spend less time in the back office. Nearly 1,000,000 businesses trust us to guide them through market changes and technology challenges, so they can stay competitive and focus on building remarkable businesses instead of managing the daily grind. Learn more at