How Can We Ditch Our Wallets for Our Electronic Payment Future in the Age of Hacking?

Last week, I was sitting on the Starbucks patio, sipping on a Frappachino, I watched a car pull up into the drive-through, and the gentleman took their smart phone and waved it over a smart phone reader which deducted the cost of his coffee from his Starbucks card which was inside of his smart phone as an app.

That was a pretty cool trick, it just goes to show you that in the future your smart phone will be an all-in-one device, and will also serve as your credit card, and your customer loyalty card at the grocery store, and all the other businesses that you shop that. There’s only one problem with all of this, and that is the computer security of your smart phone, and the fact that the hackers can break-in.

There are so many components to all this, you have your 4G wireless company, the maker of the smart phone, and all the software programmers to create the apps. Therefore there are too many chances for gaps in security, and unless these transactions are 100% secure, someone can break-in to your phone, and therefore they’ll have access to your bank account as well.

On July 7, 2011 Google officially announced the end of the of the wallet, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering all the partnerships being announced between smart phone manufacturers, cell phone companies, and banks. On May 2011 there as an interesting piece in a Guardian article titled; “Google Wallet: A Big Deal or Another Buzz? Google is right – replacing credit cards with smarphones is a great idea, but will it work?” by Jean-Louis Gassee.

There was an interesting article by Adam Hoffman of (Electronic Receivables Department at CitiGroup) in Global Finance in June of 2011 which was extremely interesting as he was discussing the future of electronic payments. The article was titled “What’s Next in the World of e-Bills and e-Payments,” and he reminded the readers of the incredible future these technologies will have and what that means to changes in money flow.

This is quite incredible stuff, and these new technologies are totally leading-edge, but we’ve already seen the challenges and security holes in nearly all of the smart phones and their operating systems. How can consumers feel safe, and until they do how can the industry including the banking industry, credit card sector, and the makers of these devices convince the public that it’s okay and safe to use electronic payments in the age of hacking? Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

A Thorough Guide for Electronic Payments

Online businesses may experience problems with payment structure. Given the advancement of technology and the heavy reliance on credit cards, paying electronically is no longer an issue. With internet merchant accounts, businesses have seen a rapid increase in clients and sales. Adding security and efficiency that is now linked with the entire process and your business is assured success, so long as there are customers with credit cards online.

After the account is established, the following are the most critical parts of the entire process:

To ensure that everything went smoothly, run a test transaction through the terminal that should only cost a single dollar. Some credit card providers give out test numbers, but the use of an authentic credit card is also a good alternative. This enables the business owner to verify that the terminal works and that future transactions will be made.

After the test run is complete, check to see if the account associated with the merchant account has received the funds. It is important to remember that a) It takes around two business days for Visa and MasterCard to be finished, and around three days for Discover and American Express; and b) The amount deposited from the test transaction should match the previous batch total. This may not be the case for funds held for reserve and for accounts with fees debited on a daily basis.

Make a habit of checking the statements. Given that fees and rates are charged by the provider, the business owner should be responsible enough to review each processing statement to ensure that there are no errors, or to catch any errors as they happen.

Finally, make sure supplies are always well-stocked. Nothing is more embarrassing than running out of receipt tape in the middle of a transaction. Having a reliable supply count allows the business owner to concentrate on the business and sales, as well as the other online payments that will follow.

Online Payment Guide

The process for online credit card payments are as follows:

The first step involves the customer inputting the credit card information to a specific website on the internet or over the phone.

The information is then passed on to a credit card processor by a gateway or some other real-time processing system.

To prevent fraud, the credit card payment processor will assess the card and verify whether the request came from the card holder or through their billing address.

Whether the request has been denied or approved will be passed on to the party providing the merchant account, then to the customer, to finish the transaction.

Once validated, the amount is kept in the merchant account, ultimately getting transferred to the checking account of the business, or to a business account.

Once the accounts are up and running, the business owner can now focus on sales. The process may seem stressful and daunting, but once your company can accept electronic payments, you can rest easy knowing your business is up-to-date with the current trends in e-commerce, and ahead of the curve compared to other businesses who have not taken the leap yet.

Flexible Electronic Payment Solutions Benefits Both Provider and Patient

The current economic situation has the capacity to force patients to decide between discontinuing their routine healthcare appointments or making other payment arrangements. Possible solutions offered by healthcare providers include medical credit cards, or automated electronic payment plans (such as “auto-debit”).

Affordable, electronic payment plan options now play a vital role in the financial health of a practice more than ever before. With declining insurance reimbursement, patients are now personally responsible for a larger portion of their healthcare expenses.

Finances have become a barrier for many patients who are not able to receive the care they want and need.

Easing the financial burden for patients and making it easy for them to plan their budget with an automated electronic payment plan is essential, as it provides the opportunity for preventive care which will inevitably minimize the need for emergency care that results from lack of routine health appointments. It is much less costly for patients and society in general, if routine screening and maintenance healthcare is made fiscally available.

From the healthcare practitioner’s perspective, the predictability that comes with steady, recurring revenues from electronic payment plans is most important during times of economic uncertainty. If providers are completely subject to patient decisions on when to have their routine check-up, they ultimately lose out if a patient cancels due to an unforeseen bill or other such budgetary burden. Payment plans make sure that care is already budgeted for. With greater predictability of income, comes the confidence for providers to take control and better plan for the financial health of their business. For a sustainable system, both the needs of the patient and the provider must be met.

One of the primary benefits of being in private practice is maintaining control over patients and ensuring independence. Most private practices have at some time spent sizable amounts of time and dollars growing an organization and brand that identifies them. In most cases, communicating this brand to patients contributes to a significant portion of the practice’s marketing expense. Successful practices know the importance of converting potential leads into new patients to take full advantage of those marketing dollars. The ability of an office to convert new patients is greatly enhanced by offering electronic payment plan options that have the flexibility to fit into the patient’s budget.

Opting for partner companies who will assist providers in offering flexible, electronic payment solutions will ultimately lead to healthier, happier patients and goes a long way to strengthen and grow a practice.