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What fees come with accepting Apple Pay for businesses?

Apple Pay simplifies checkout for customers, but setup isn't always as straightforward. IT admins can review the costs to decide if Apple Pay makes sense for their organization.

Apple Pay is an increasingly popular payment method for mobile and in-store customers alike, but organizations should determine what costs come with it before jumping into implementation.

Using an Apple device such as an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, customers can make contactless, secure purchases through Apple Pay.

The mobile payment platform has several advantages, including the following:

  • Apple Pay allows payment in full or over time. The Apple Pay Later option splits purchases into four equal payments over the course of six weeks, with no interest or fees.
  • Like other digital wallets, customers can use Apple Pay from the Wallet app, with built-in privacy and security mechanisms.
  • It's free for the merchant and the customer, although there are a few caveats to factor in. For example, because Apple Pay is linked to a credit or debit card in the customer's Apple Wallet, card processing fees still apply.

Still, there are costs, fees and other considerations that IT decision-makers must address before accepting Apple Pay or any contactless payment method.

What are the business costs of setting up Apple Pay?

Before integrating any new technology, administrators must assess its cost-effectiveness, and Apple Pay is no exception. Both consumers and merchants are exempt from paying fees to Apple globally. However, some network providers -- particularly outside the U.S. -- might impose fees, so IT should verify this.

To conduct a proper cost-benefit analysis, IT should consider the other costs that can come with implementing Apple Pay, including point-of-sale (POS) systems with near-field communication (NFC) capability, customer support and additional services.

If an organization already has a POS system that processes contactless credit cards or Google Pay, it will likely be ready for Apple Pay.

POS systems with NFC capability

If an organization already has a POS system that processes contactless credit cards or Google Pay, it will likely be ready for Apple Pay. POS systems might need an upgrade for NFC capability, or it might be necessary to buy new devices. Some payment processors, such as PayPal, will charge setup fees, so organizations should also make sure to ask about that before choosing one.

Merchant One, Clover and ProMerchant are a few processing systems with NFC technology to consider. Another option is Square, which does not offer full processing services. Its pricing model is also unfavorable for large organizations. This makes Square more suitable for small businesses and individual vendors.

Customer support for Apple Pay

Depending on the organization there might be costs to set up customer support to handle troubleshooting. Organizations need to have a customer support option ready in case the POS terminal doesn't work, an Apple Pay transaction doesn't process or there are failures with online purchases. For the most part, these kinds of costs are minimal. The POS vendor should be able to help with this as well.

Larger organizations that have customer support teams staffed with live agents and employ an asynchronous communications platform might find the Apple Messages for Business service appealing. This service helps customers resolve support issues, make purchases with Apple Pay or even schedule appointments. Customers can initiate a support call through multiple entry points. Because it seamlessly integrates with Apple Pay, customers can make purchases via the Messages app. Other features let IT add shipping options, create a client landing page and more. There is no charge for Apple Messages for Business, but organizations must meet some qualifications.

Additional services for Apple Pay

Other possible setup costs would result from additional services for online transactions. For example, organizations might have to pay more for software to build dashboards, analytics, digital invoicing, shopping cart setup and data exports. Vendors such as Stax and Clover can provide these services, with pricing options for both SMBs and large businesses.

How to decide if Apple Pay is worth it

After assessing the costs that can come with Apple Pay, organizations should weigh out its pros and cons to decide whether they should enable the mobile payment service. Apple Pay transactions incur no more charges for customers or businesses than traditional credit card transactions do. While there might be some setup costs, purchases such as NFC-enabled payment terminals can be a good investment to keep the organization up to date and provide a smoother checkout process.

However, there are some drawbacks to keep in mind. Apple Pay is not a payment processor, so if a business's current payment processor doesn't support Apple Pay, it needs to find one that will. Additionally, Apple Pay only works on Apple devices, so organizations must add Google Pay or another payment option to support Android devices. Credit card issuers also have an ongoing dispute with Apple over transaction fees. This could affect Apple Pay in the future.

Gary Olsen has worked in the IT industry since 1983 and holds a Master of Science in computer-aided manufacturing from Brigham Young University. He was on Microsoft's Windows 2000 beta support team for Active Directory from 1998 to 2000 and has written two books on Active Directory and numerous technical articles for magazines and websites.

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