Cash Is King No More: Mobile Money and the Future of Business

Has the age of the cash register come to an end? Consumers increasingly report they would prefer to pay for goods and services via a credit/debit card or digital bank account, and a recent Javelin study found that cash is no longer is the dominant exchange in point-of-sale systems (it was surpassed by debit and credit cards). There’s another simple way to think about this: When was the last time you carried cash in your wallet? I know I don’t. How can a company adapt to this change?

Digital Currency

Few topics in the world have garnered as much attention as digital currency (also known as cryptocurrency). The biggest name in this arena is BitCoin, a fully digitized currency that conforms to the laws of supply and demand just like international dollars, pounds, euros and yen. The Wall Street Journal notes that it’s possible to use bitcoin to purchase everything from a pizza delivery to a vacation trip to space. A business that accepts bitcoins can turn around and sell them for USD as soon as they receive them for payment. All that is necessary is to set up a digital checkout that takes this e-currency.

Be care with BitCoin. I’m not sure how the success or failure of these digital currencies are going to play out. Usually there are a few very informed parties (people) that make a lot of money at the beginning, while the rest of us are left wondering about the legitimacy of a new currency. If you want to use a digital currency like BitCoin, make sure you know the in’s and out’s and do your research! That being said, there is still a chance for lucrative outcomes by choosing to participate in new digital currencies, especially if your target market is using them. Start with some market research and if your customers are asking for the ability to pay in BitCoins. give it to them, just make sure you turn it into real cash asap.

Point of Sale

When you no longer need a cash register in order to handle sales, do you still need a cashier? More importantly, do you still need a store? This is the big question that brick-and-mortar businesses need to ask themselves. With the change of pace in consumer purchasing, it’s possible to make your sales processes capable of remote transactions. Services like Intuit even show business owners how they can set up a POS solution on a mobile device, so it’s possible to make a sale away from your office or storefront. With no reason to limit your sales to your four walls, why limit the rest of your business to physical boundaries?

Let’s be real.

If you have a physical office location because you believe it adds legitimacy to your business, you’re wrong. Save that monthly rent and put it towards a new website redesign because your digital real estate is the only thing that matters these days. There are tools like Free Conference Call, Google + For free video chatting, and Regus if you really need a place to have a meeting.

Paying It Forward

With the rapid decline of cash in favor of credit cards, it’s fair to ask how much longer credit cards will be around before they, too, turn into dinosaurs. Tech providers suggest it may be sooner than we think. Nokia and BlackBerry have incorporated near-field communications technology (used to capture credit card data) into their smartphones since 2011. With NFC settings on a mobile or tablet (and Apple’s newest generation of iPads), it’s possible to turn a mobile device into a credit card that you can scan at everything from a Starbucks to a Honda dealership to make a payment.

There’s a downside to mobile integration, however: security. Lookout Labs reports that $30 billion worth of cell phones are stolen, lost, or destroyed per year in the United States alone. Losing $20 in cash represents a one-time hit to your budget; losing your credit card-enabled phone can mean far more.

The Bottom Line

Consumers no longer want to deal with cash and change. Many more do not even want to pull a card out of their wallets, preferring to integrate their transactions and their favorite devices. Companies who are not only capable of handling mobile processing, but those who can turn it into a trustworthy transaction, will be better situated to net more sales and higher yields.

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