The Importance of Integration for Mobile Payments

Not that long ago, the idea of using your phone to make a purchase would have seemed ridiculous, even absurd. Now, most consumers don't even bat an eye at the concept of mobile payments. On the contrary, it's becoming increasingly common for people to buy groceries, order takeout, pay for clothes and perform countless other transactions via their smartphones. Clearly, mobile payments are here to stay.

"Off-the-shelf mobile payment solutions can't guarantee integration."

But, that being said, mobile payments are not universal - yet. For many business owners and decision-makers, this presents a huge opportunity. By embracing mobile payments now, they can gain a major advantage over their competitors, attracting customers who are eager for the convenience and other benefits that mobile payments can offer. However, to see positive results from mobile payment adoption, organizations need to approach this technology strategically, and one of the most important factors to take into consideration is integration. Without effective integration, there's no way for a firm to see the best possible benefits from its mobile payments solution.

Accounting issues
In many cases, integration for mobile payments solutions is not guaranteed. This is particularly true when it comes to off-the-shelf options. Some of the larger enterprises simply acquire mobile payment providers and then attempt to layer this technology on top of their own. While this can deliver a certain level of functionality, it doesn't provide true integration, and this limits how useful the mobile payment offering will be.

Say, for example, a business relies on QuickBooks for its accounting software. That same business also wants to deploy a mobile payment option via both its own app and a mobile-friendly website. In order to accurately keep track of its sales, revenue and other financial data, this company will obviously need to ensure that all mobile payment information is entered into QuickBooks. However, without an integrated payment gateway, this won't occur automatically. Instead, the business's employees would need to manually enter all of the transaction data. Such a process would be so time-consuming that it would significantly undercut the value mobile payments are supposed to deliver.

By choosing an offering that can integrate with its existing QuickBooks system, though, the company will be able to effectively treat mobile payments just like any other transactions. With integration, mobile payments become simply another channel for customers to shop through, without any inefficiency issues or other complications.

Accounting is easier with integrated mobile payments.Accounting is easier with integrated mobile payments.

The BI difference
Mobile payment integration is also essential for any company eager to maximize its business intelligence capabilities. BI is an invaluable resource for just about any firm. With a high-quality BI solution in place, a firm can gain powerful insight from data that would otherwise remain useless. This can lead to smarter decision-making and strategizing both day-to-day and in the long term.

Mobile payments represent an opportunity to gain particularly valuable BI resources. In addition to providing basic purchasing info, these transactions can lend insight into who the business's mobile customers are, as well as when and where they shop. All of this can lead directly to more targeted marketing campaigns and other strategic improvements.

For this to be the case, though, the mobile payment solution must be able to integrate with the company's existing BI tools. And, as is the case with accounting software, this will not always - or even often - be the case. Instead, most off-the-shelf mobile payment offerings and BI solutions will be inherently incompatible.

"Mobile solutions can take into account both time and consumers' geographic locations."

Reward customers
Finally, integration is essential for mobile payments in order to develop rewards and loyalty programs for customers. These programs can serve as major differentiators for firms, allowing them to cultivate a dedicated following. Additionally, by collecting and analyzing customer data, companies can offer customer-specific coupons and discounts.

This is especially important in the realm of mobile payments because the targeted offers can take into account both time and consumers' geographic locations. For example, a pizza chain could send its customers offers for free delivery when they are at home on a Sunday evening, and therefore most likely to be in need of takeout. Such campaigns can deliver enormous revenue increases.

Building up
A mobile payments solution offers a huge amount of potential to businesses of all kinds. These solutions are particularly invaluable to firms that are ready and willing to embrace the technology now, before it becomes completely standardized and ubiquitous in their given sectors.

To achieve integration, though, the right approach is necessary. As highlighted above, many off-the-shelf mobile payment options will simply not be able to integrate with existing accounting, BI or customer reward software. To avoid this problem and achieve integration, firms interested in mobile payments should instead aim to build up their own, unique mobile payment solutions - including dedicated apps - from the ground up. By doing so, companies can ensure that the the mobile payment system fully and easily integrates with all legacy technology, thereby maximizing its value.