I attend a lot of street fairs, festivals and exhibits where artists and other creative folk sell their goods or services on the spot. A parking lot, the middle of a conference hall, or even at a restaurant, credit cards can be charged quickly and easily just about anywhere. But how do you do it? To find out, I took PayAnywhere for a whirl…
Used to be if you were a merchant and wanted to accept credit cards, you’d have to go through a business bank, get a merchant account, lease expensive processing equipment that had to be hooked up to its own phone line, and generally have to figure out an extraordinarily complicated system. It’s no wonder that there are still stores that don’t accept credit cards, preferring cash only transactions.
PayPal was an innovator in this marketplace, along with Square, a startup that was the first to ship a simple credit card reader that functioned as a smartphone peripheral. Enter PayAnywhere. Offering low rates and an incredibly easy transaction path, it’s another smart way to turn your Android or iPhone into a take-anywhere credit card processing device. With no setup, no minimum transaction level and a free card reader that they mail to your house, all but 2.69% of every transaction processed is deposited into your account. No merchant account required, in fact: you can use your personal bank account too, if you prefer.
That’s all well and good, but I’m a hands-on sort of person, so I wanted to test PayAnywhere out, particularly since I’ve used both the Square and PayPal solutions for iPhone transaction processing. Turns out, it’s pretty darn easy to work with.
For the purposes of the test, I sold myself a cup of tea. Really. And here’s how it looked:
You can see that if you have an inventory system set up, you can easily zip through “express sales”. I didn’t. It’s not like I sell myself cups of tea very often! So instead, I clicked on “Manual Item” to enter a specific amount:
The photo I took by tapping on the empty “item photo” box, then added the item name and amount with just a few more taps. Easy enough.
Next step is to tap on “Add to Cart” on the top right of the screen.
That looks accurate. It’s a cup of tea, quantity one, and the total charge is going to be $1.00.
To continue from here, tap on the green arrow button along the bottom.
Now’s the time to plug in the PayAnywhere device, if you have one. Here’s what’s cool, though: if you don’t have the device, you can proceed anyway by simply entering the credit card information manually. But that’s less snazzy and the PayAnywhere reader is pretty slick, particularly with its handy lanyard (perfect for artists and others on the go).
Here, you can see it, compare it to the PayPal reader (which doesn’t have a handy lanyard) and see that they’re both quite a bit smaller than my Visa card:
Back to the transaction, though. So either by sliding the credit card through the PayAnywhere reader or by entering it, you’ll eventually have credit card number, expiration date, CCV code from the back, billing zip code and the cardholder’s street address (turns out you only need the street number, so if you’re at “1600 Pennsylvania Ave” just enter “1600”) and you’re ready to proceed. Here’s what it looks like (with a lot blanked out because while I like you, dear reader, I don’t want you using my credit card to buy stuff):
To complete the transaction, tap on the green arrow button again. The transaction data is encrypted and sent to the PayAnywhere merchant services system where it’s verified and completed in just a few seconds. Done? Not quite: it’s time to get the buyer’s signature:
Note that if your business includes buyers adding on a tip that’s easily done by tapping in the “edit tip” section. If not, a quick swipe or two of their finger and you’ll have a signature that helps verify the legitimacy of the transaction. Again, tap on the green arrow button and they’ll have a chance to enter themselves into your customer database and have a copy of the receipt automatically emailed to them.
I’ve done just that and am poised to again tap on, you guessed it, the “done” button at the bottom:
By this point the transaction’s already occurred, but your customer will get a verification of the receipt being mailed to them:
Easy. There’s a fair amount of tapping, but it can all be streamlined by having an inventory of products and prices and, of course, by having repeat customers. Even having to do everything manually, however, it’s maybe 60 seconds to sell them that painting, sculpture, food, neck massage, car wash, babysitting or exercise equipment at your garage sale.
And by the time the customer walks away with their new purchase, the receipt will already have arrived in their mailbox:
The only other piece is the merchant back end, where you issue refunds and transfer outstanding sales balances into your own bank account. That’s all accessible online and offers up stats and analytics in addition to the usual bookkeeping functionality:
Look like voodoo? That’s why it’s nice to know that the general task of transferring balances is super easy too, though beyond the scope of this writeup (PayAnywhere has lots of tutorial content on their site if you’re unsure).
Again, what’s great is that it’s easy, everything is free – including the card reader – and you’re getting 97.31% of every transaction. So that painting you want to sell for $500? You’ll pocket $486.55. (which means that you can also sell it for $525 and realize the full $500 you want after transaction fees, if you’re so inclined).
My plan is to keep the PayAnywhere reader in my car and the app on my iPhone so that if I’m at a client meeting and their preference is to pay me with Visa or MasterCard, I’ve got an excellent solution all ready to go, one that is backed by a large corporation and has remarkably low transaction fees too. What’s not to like about it?
Disclaimer: PayAnywhere paid a small fee to expedite this review and writeup on AskDaveTaylor.com. The words, the opinions and the conclusions are my own, however.