Get your business ready: mobile payments

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Get your business ready: mobile payments

These handy apps from MYOB, Xero and others can reduce your administrative load and improve cashflow. Click for an introduction.

Here's one trend to get up to speed up on - mobile invoicing and payments.

Sure, it's not relevant to all types of business. But if you perform services at or near your customers' or clients' premises, it deserves consideration as it can reduce your administrative load and improve cashflow.

Imagine you're a gardener. You've got some regular customers, but a lot of your work is one-off jobs, where people want their garden renovated before putting the house on the market, or where they need help to get a neglected garden back into a state they can manage for themselves.

You've finished one of those jobs, so what happens next? Assuming you're not part of the black economy (and we're certainly not suggesting that gardeners tend to be!), you probably write out the bill in a duplicate book and the customer either fills in the credit card authorisation or gives you a cheque on the spot or agrees to send one or the other to you in due course. Then someone (you, your spouse or the bookkeeper that charges you for their time) has to transcribe the invoice into your accounting system and actually perform the credit card transaction or deposit the cheque, so it can be a while before the funds are available to you.

Wouldn't it be easier if you could generate the invoice on your phone instead of on paper, email it to the customer, and process the card payment on the spot?

Well, you can, and here are some of the products that make it possible.

MYOB's PayDirect's basic function is to turn your smartphone into a mobile credit card reader (EFTPOS card support is planned), and settlement takes one or two days. While PayDirect can be used as a standalone service it also integrates with MYOB Essentials and MYOB AccountRight to generate the corresponding invoices in your books. As a bonus, you can use it to get driving directions to customers' premises. PayDirect works with iPhones and Android phones.

The Commonwealth Bank's Emmy card reader and associated iOS and Android smartphone and tablet apps similarly handles mobile payments (with same-day settlement) and includes paperless estimates and invoices. Payment transactions can be exported for transfer to accounting software such as MYOB, but that's not as convenient as full integration.

If you're a Xero user, you already have access to a mobile app for iOS or Android that handles on-the-spot invoicing, expense recording, and bank reconciliation, but you'll have to wait until next year for the mobile card-based payments service that will be provided by ingogo.

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