The rise of mobile payments

We’ve just sent out the latest edition of Exchange Magazine – the magazine for members of our Accountants’ Club. It’s packed with useful information to help our Accountants run their business, and we thought we’d give you a preview of one of their articles here on our blog.

If 2011 was the year the world woke up to ‘cloud computing’ then 2012 is set to be the year that mobile shopping becomes the norm. It’s the quiet revolution that’s changing the way we shop – and transforming the way businesses make and receive payments. A powerful combination of new technology, better wi-fi coverage and increasingly powerful handheld devices is now making it easier than ever to access, view, buy and sell goods online – wherever you are. And with mobile broadband services improving and extending their coverage, experts are predicting that connecting to the internet via a smartphone – rather than by using a laptop or PC – will become the main way of accessing web resources for the first time in 2012.

Sage Pay

Research commissioned by magazine Retail Week found that UK customers are already spending a staggering £1.3 billion a year via mobile services – with that figure expected to rise to a massive £19.3 billion by 2021. Worldwide mobile phone transactions now account for £148 billion of e-commerce and experts say that figure will treble in the next five years. Food, groceries and electrical items are currently the most popular purchases being made by this new breed of ‘connected customers’ and analysts at Barclays Bank say mobile – or ‘m-commerce’ spending – is growing at the fastest rate of any retail channel.

A separate Google survey found that 79 per cent of UK shoppers now use smartphones for shopping, while 70 per cent use them to check details – including comparing prices – while in store. In September the company launched their Google Wallet in America, enabling users in key cities to download a secure application allowing them to make easy payments. And there are plans to make it available here and in mainland Europe later this year too.

What’s in it for you?

So what more do you need to know about this way of working – and what are the potential benefits for you and your clients? Using handhelds as the primary channel for viewing and consuming goods has huge implications for the way all businesses, and accountants, make and collect payments. As Angus McCarey, UK Retail Director for eBay in the UK says: “Mobile shopping represents a massive opportunity not just for retailers, but for the economy as a whole.” Subscribing to an online payments service like Sage Pay can offer a low cost, efficient way to sell goods and services. Recommending the solution to clients can cut their running costs and allow them to reach out to a new breed of customers – who will soon expect mobile payment systems as standard. In addition to quicker and more streamlined processing, you can also help clients integrate payment solutions with Sage 50 Accounts.


As well as selling and processing, mobile retailing brings huge potential for ‘m-marketing’ – sending marketing materials to clients via their mobile devices. As well as extending the online reach and profile of both your clients and your own practice, this can be a great way to show you are ‘ahead of the game’. It’s worth remembering that people access and view information differently via mobiles than they do when using a laptop or PC. Context is everything. People are often connecting to the web with a smartphone when they’re on the move so your offering needs to be more immediate and quick to use and navigate.

Agencies like the Mobile Marketing Association can offer more advice and tips on how to get started and the type of solutions that will work best for you.

Sheryl Thompson, Exchange Magazine Team