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How to manage 4 common mobile payment issues

Mobile payments provide customers with a fast and secure way to pay without cash or physical cards. Managing these systems can be a complex task for organizations, however.

Efficiency is key to customer experience today, so it's important to avoid issues that get in the way of a convenient mobile payment.

For both physical storefronts and online shops, mobile payment options are crucial to a user-friendly checkout process. However, IT administrators and small business owners must know the potential issues when implementing and managing these payment options.

What to expect when setting up mobile payments

Organizations should have a clear understanding of mobile payment systems and consider various factors when planning to offer such technologies. Before implementing mobile payments, address the following considerations:

  • Hardware compatibility. Organizations must ensure that their point-of-sale (POS) terminals and hardware have near-field communication (NFC) technology. This is necessary for contactless payments and might require hardware or software upgrades.
  • E-commerce integration. Organizations' e-commerce sites must also be compatible with digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. This might require extra services or fees from the organization's hosting provider, site developer and payment gateway provider.
  • Choice of payment options. While Apple Pay and Google Pay are popular mobile payment platforms, merchants should consider other options to serve a wider customer base. This is especially true for global transactions where these platforms might not be available.
  • Staff training. Employees need to know how to process mobile payments and address hardware issues, as well as customer questions and concerns.
  • Security measures. Mobile payments require strict security protocols to safeguard customer data. Understanding and implementing standards such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard ensures customer confidence and regulatory compliance.
  • Cost implications. Analyze the costs of adopting and maintaining mobile payment options, including transaction fees and hardware expenses.
  • Network. A secure network is essential for protecting sensitive financial information during mobile transactions. As with any other financial transaction, a secure network helps minimize the risk of hackers intercepting this data. Moreover, isolating the POS hardware on a separate network segregates its traffic from other devices. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access to confidential data on public or private networks.

To set up digital payment options, there are a few steps organizations must follow. These steps vary based on whether they are adopting the technology at physical storefronts, e-commerce sites or both.

When implementing in-person mobile payment options, an organization might have to contact its POS provider to upgrade terminals with NFC capability, if necessary, and enable acceptance of mobile wallets.

When adding mobile payment options to an e-commerce site, the organization should work with a payment processor. Because they do not function as payment gateways but rather as digital wallets, Apple Pay and Google Pay still need a payment processor to handle the actual communication with financial institutions. It is vital to partner with a processor that supports mobile payments -- such as Stripe, PayPal or Square -- and follow their instructions to integrate into the e-commerce website.

Proactive measures for managing mobile payments

To ensure seamless mobile payments, it's critical to take some preventive steps. Organizations should implement the following measures:

Graphic listing reasons to update software.
Keeping software up to date ensures mobile payment security and proper functionality.
  • Regular software updates. Ensure that POS terminals, payment gateways and mobile devices have the latest software updates. This will help address any bugs and security patches.
  • Regular testing. Conduct periodic test transactions to identify and rectify any issues proactively. This will help avoid potential problems when actual transactions occur.
  • Mobile payment acceptance displays. Use clear and visible signage to inform customers about the accepted mobile payment options. This will help them understand what payment methods are available.
  • Mobile payment backup plans. Train staff on how to offer alternative payment methods when mobile payments are unavailable. This ensures a positive customer experience.
  • Strong security protocols. Data security requires measures such as strong passwords and authentication. For an optimal connection and enhanced security, organizations should configure their devices on separate virtual or cellular networks.

How to troubleshoot 4 common mobile payment issues

Organizations might sometimes face issues with mobile payments even after successful implementation. There are four common types of problems that might arise, and employees can follow a few simple steps to identify and solve them.

1. Failed transaction or NFC not working

If a customer attempts to pay via a mobile payment service and the transaction doesn't go through, there are a few possible causes. Outdated hardware or software is one common culprit. POS systems might reject payments if they don't have the latest standards, so organizations must regularly test and update hardware and software.

The software could also have the wrong settings. Make sure to correctly configure all payment terminal settings according to the payment service provider's instructions. Similarly, sometimes the issue is with the customer's device. To solve this, check that the customer has enabled NFC in their device's settings.

Make sure to correctly configure all payment terminal settings according to the payment service provider's instructions.

Poor internet connection can prevent transactions, so it's also important to check and optimize internet connectivity. Consider using dedicated virtual networks or cellular-based hardware that connects to a cellular carrier plan for payment processing.

Often, the issue is something as basic as a weak NFC signal, POS terminal malfunction or user error. In these cases, simply instruct customers to hold their devices closer to the terminal or, if available, try another terminal.

2. Payment declined

Sometimes when customers try to make a mobile payment, their card issuer might decline the transaction. Insufficient funds, expired payment cards, suspected fraud or device-specific issues, such as poor internet connection, can all cause this issue.

To handle a declined payment, run through the following steps:

  • Ask the customer to double-check their payment information within the mobile wallet.
  • Advise the customer to contact their bank or card issuer for further assistance.
  • Try restarting the mobile device or the POS terminal.
  • Ask the customer to consider another payment option, such as a physical credit or debit card.

3. Customer device issues

In addition to incorrect settings, several issues with the customer's device can cause mobile payment failure. Problems might occur if they're using an outdated OS or payment app, or if their device doesn't have the required NFC chips for the transactions.

The problem often comes down to how the customer has set up their mobile payment app. It's possible they didn't add the right payment card or haven't yet verified the card on their digital wallet. They also might have attempted to complete the payment without first verifying their identity on their device.

When these issues arise, consult the customer to confirm that their device supports contactless payments. If that doesn't reveal the source of the problem, ask them to make sure they set up their digital wallet with a payment card for transactions, and that they have completed identity verification on their device before trying to pay.

4. Security concerns

Organizations and customers often have concerns regarding the security of mobile payments. Many people do not fully understand the encryption and tokenization technologies that safeguard transactions.

To address these concerns, educate staff and customers on the security features of mobile payment systems. One easy way to do this is to display information about the security measures at points of sale and on e-commerce websites.

Michael Goad is a freelance writer and solutions architect with experience handling mobility in an enterprise setting.

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