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What's New in Merchant Accounts for 2015?

Merchant accounts are invaluable for businesses looking to receive payments via debit and credit cards. For online businesses, it means transactions can be carried out quickly and goods despatched immediately rather than having to wait for a cheque to come in. For businesses with a storefront, the use of cards means less cash in the tills, so greater security. Plus, merchant accounts attract less in bank fees.

virtual payments

There is no doubt that merchant accounts are a very important player in the world of commerce. But with customers demanding even faster ways to make payments and buy goods, what’s in store for merchant accounts in 2015?

The US gets Chip and Pin

In the UK and the rest of Europe, we have had Chip and Pin technology for many years now.

Now that the US has seen how it helps to prevent fraud, their retailers are being encouraged to adopt the technology (many retailers still use the “swipe” technology).

This could have an impact if you are transacting with US businesses due to a liability shift (basically, who is responsible if there is fraudulent activity with the card or transaction).

These changes are due to happen in October 2015 and while they are not mandatory, US merchants who don’t meet the new compliance regulations by October 2015 will assume liability for fraudulent purchases.

More Mobile Payment Options with Zapp

As the United States reports an estimated growth for mobile payment options up to $214 billion in 2015, from just $16 billion this year, the UK are looking forward to the launch of a new mobile payment system in 2015 – Zapp.

Zapp is currently undergoing testing and trails and is due for release in early 2015. It is an app that means that when you pay in shops that have signed up to their system, all you will need is your mobile phone and your existing bank account details (via the banks’ own app).
For businesses, the benefits mean that customers go from shopping to successful payment in just a few clicks with no new passwords to remember or long numbers.

Businesses already signed up to the new service include Clarks, Dune, Spa, Bravissimo, Best Western, Siemens, Thomas Cook, and Littlewoods.
Zapp has also got several utilities companies on board, meaning people will also be able to use it to pay household bills. Anglian Water, Bristol and Wessex Water and Sutton and East Surrey Water are among those supporting the scheme.

Apple Pay

While Apple Pay is about to launch in the US (as at October 2014), commentators are unsure as to whether it will arrive in the UK. Even if it doesn’t hit our shores next year, it is worth taking a look at this clever bit of software that allows customers to pay using their Apple iPhone6 or Apple Watch.

Like the new Zapp app mentioned previously above, Apple Pay is a contactless payment system. It removes the need to carry cards or cash around, as shoppers will pay with their smartphone or Apple Watch. It cannot be used on the iPhone5.

TouchID will be used – so when customers buy something using an iPhone, they will pay by putting their thumb or finger on the TouchID sensor and move the phone towards the reader.

With the Apple Watch, which doesn’t have TouchID, it needs to be paired to an iPhone. Users will then need to double-click its button and put the watch to the reader.

What is particularly nifty about this is the ability to take photographs of the card consumers want to be able to use with Apple Pay.
Why tap in card details when you can just take a photo of the ones you want to use? That’s what Apple Pay says: customers will be able to add cards by snapping them with your phone’s camera.

E-wallets

You may already be familiar with e-wallets. If not, they are set to be big news in 2015. According to a report by Worldpay, they are easy to use and popular with younger shoppers for buying digital goods and video games. In China, e-wallets account for the largest proportion of the eCommerce market at 44%.

E-wallets enable users to store multiple bank account and credit card numbers in a secure environment, eliminating the need to enter in account information when making payments. This is great for the customer, as once they have registered and created e-wallet profiles, payments can be made faster and with less typing.

And because they are great for the customer, this means they could be great for your business too!

What Does 2015 Hold for Merchant Accounts?

While the above is a snapshot of recent and planned developments globally, there does appear to be a trend for payments made using mobile phones. For online businesses this may not have a direct affect on their payment acceptance systems. But those storefront companies that haven’t already geared up to accept these types of transactions may want to start investigating their options.

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