Not only can small merchants ride the coming wave of mobile payments, they can make more in tips. That was part of the fun learned from a two-month Square promotion in Portland, Ore., that ended last week. The drive highlighted the company’s NFC/chip readers in a marketing siege of a city chosen for the tactic because of its high implementation of the new Square hardware and its commerce counterculture.
Apple got in on the techfest because its wallet Apple Pay is the other side of the two-way connection Square needs to boost not only wallet use but comfort with wallet use. Apple hosted a merchant tutorial on Apple Pay in one of its stores one day during the Square campaign.
Readers plus mobile device plus education is the formula that can make predictions like Juniper Research’s come true. The firm says mobile payments can account for $54 billion by 2019, but right now just 1 percent of transactions in the U.S. are made with mobile devices.
Square reported that mobile payment volume rose from 1 percent to 3 percent during its stay in Portland, and of the three ways to pay electronically—swiping, chip dipping and tapping—the latter two were used more to give gratuities (67 percent, 71 percent, and 73 percent, respectively).
A Square spokesperson told paymentfacilitator.com there’s been a half million orders of the $49 NFC/chip readers since they debuted last fall. Portland was the first city targeted by Square for such a marketing effort after it tried its hand at music festivals like Coachella in April and BottleRock in May. It’s a change from the reliance on word of mouth success of years past.
Buses had Square ads and countertops had signs to raise awareness. There were events at which Square merchants offered discounts only to mobile users and first time mobile users.
“Over the past few months we’ve made a dedicated effort to help sellers use the latest in payment technologies and show buyers they can pay with their phone wherever they see Square,” said the spokesperson. “Both sellers and buyers in Portland responded well to this campaign and we look forward to continuing this momentum in other cities.”