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Small Businesses Assess Mobile Payments

The Aite report says that this year will "mark a tipping point for mobile payments at the point of sale," as carriers and handset manufacturers start shipping near field communications-enabled smartphones. (Google announced last week that its Google Wallet system would arrive this summer, allowing consumers to pay for purchases with the tap of their Android phone at select merchants.)

"Firms that are missing the signs that the market is now rapidly shifting toward mobile payments will be at a serious disadvantage in the next few years, which will be reminiscent of the mid-1990s, where e-commerce champions -- including Yahoo (YHOO), Amazon (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY) -- planted their seeds and grew," the report says. "We see the coming few years as critical to shaping a new generation of companies and lines of business at existing players around mobile commerce and payments."

Advancing mobile technology can provide consumers with a more engaging user experience, experts say, as well as reduce the time spent on paperwork.

Businesses that use invoices or transact "on the go," such as plumbers, would be able to budget more predictable cash flow because they would get immediate payment, Battles says.

"Many Square users are businesses that have traditionally been cash-only, and they have found the ease of use from Square to lead to increased sales," writes Katie Baynes, a spokeswoman for Square, in an email. "Additionally, many businesses find Square to be more cost-efficient, as we have a flat 2.75% per transaction cost without any hidden fees or rates or hardware charges."

Accounts are easy to set up, no paperwork, no hidden fees and easy to use on devices that they already own, Baynes writes. The Square reader is free for users, enabling business owners to accept credit cards on their Android devices of Apple (AAPL)iPhone or iPad, she adds.

Mobile payments aren't just about getting paid faster, though.

"There is enough momentum that small businesses need to take that first step" to learn how to best enable their businesses for mobile, whether that's reformatting the business' website or implementing a mobile application, says Paul Phillipson, managing director of Mazooma, a service that connects consumers directly to their online bank accounts from a merchant's checkout page.

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