Today I’m pleased to present another guest post by Chris Martin.

Here’s a question: Why would a customer willingly go to a store where there are fewer choices, average customer service, and the goods are priced higher than can be found elsewhere? One word: convenience. The proliferation of convenience stores across the country is proof that buyers value convenience as much as (if not more so than) price, selection, service, and other market factors.

Customers Love Mobile Payments
Mobile payment systems have received a lot of publicity pertaining to their advanced level of technology. But the prevalence of mobile payments wouldn’t be growing significantly if they weren’t convenient for businesses and purchasers.

In fact, the most important aspect of mobile payments’ convenience does not involve the business at all. People love having choices, so allowing them to pay for goods or services with a credit card gives them the option of keeping more money in their bank accounts for a bit longer. And after all, the customer is always right, right?

Businesses Love Mobile Payments
But mobile payments are incredibly convenient for merchants, too. For starters, businesses don’t have to buy, lease, or otherwise obtain additional equipment like checkout machines, swipe terminals, or specialized keypads. All they need is their smartphone or tablet computer and perhaps a credit card reader that plugs into their digital device (these readers are often supplied free of charge to mobile payments account holders).

The most obvious convenience of mobile payments is the elimination of a physical link to a power source. Businesses don’t need a telephone landline, data cable, or even an AC power cord in order to accept mobile payments. If merchants have a wireless Internet connection and/or a cell phone signal, credit card transactions can be processed securely, quickly, and easily almost anywhere on the planet.

For many businesses, the ability to accept mobile payments means the eradication of invoicing. Instead of writing up an invoice, giving it to a client or customer, and then waiting for a check in the mail, mobile payments can complete the entire transaction within seconds – and the funds are transferred into the business owner’s account with a few days’ time. And the convenience of improved cash flow cannot be overstated for a small business.

Mobile payments also improve the convenience of the actual credit card transaction. Customers approve the transactions by using their fingers to sign a touch screen rather than fiddling with a pen and a small credit card slip. In addition, customers receive an electronic receipt that is sent to their email address – so they don’t have to mess with keeping or storing paper credit card receipts.

Marketers and Accountants Love Mobile Payments
There’s another aspect to this e-receipt process that is often overlooked by businesses. As part of the transaction, customers provide their email addresses – which can be used for marketing purposes for the business. In other words, businesses don’t have to wrangle contact information out of a customer because it is already folded into the transaction process. How convenient is that?

Finally, most mobile payments services can simplify a business owner’s bookkeeping functions to some degree. Generally, these systems can display the past purchase history associated with a given credit card number, which can aid the merchant not only in accounting but also in future marketing efforts. Some mobile payments systems can even be linked directly to a company’s back office so that transactions don’t have to be manually entered into a computer at the end of the day.

It’s surprising (or perhaps not) how many buying decisions are based primarily or solely on convenience. So if you want a competitive edge in the marketplace, mobile payments can help make patronizing your business substantially more convenient – and your customers will notice.

Chris Martin is a freelance writer who writes about topics such as small businesses, home improvement, and online reputation management.