June 7, 2011 Daniel Burns

With the advent of new mobile point-of-sale (POS) applications – that can be used on any smartphone – merchants can process sales transactions from anywhere. Most of these apps feature a separate card swiper that can be connected to most smartphones, though some of the apps simply require the merchant to enter the customer’s credit card information into the smartphone, using the phone’s keypad.

There are undoubtedly various benefits to these apps as they offer a whole new level of freedom in payment processing. The current mobile POS solutions are not truly mobile in that they operate wirelessly over dedicated connections. So while you can walk to a customer to process their payment, you have to stay within the realm of the wireless connection’s reach. The new, mobile POS solutions allow merchants to process payment virtually anywhere. This level of freedom could potentially revolutionize the POS industry – allowing anyone with a smartphone to sell their goods or services and process payment easily, without the added expense of a standalone POS solution.

While the increase in mobility is impressive, some experts are concerned about the security of these new POS apps. Since these apps download just like any other application on a smartphone, you’ll be processing payments without firewall protection. Since the apps are fairly new in the marketplace, it’s wise to proceed with caution until they’ve been thoroughly vetted.

In the interim, only choose apps from established and well-respected POS companies. If you opt to use a POS app, consider getting a separate set of smartphones for your employees – this way they won’t be processing customer payments on their personal devices. While it won’t provide complete security, it will add an extra layer of protection.

And whether you start using a POS app now or decide to wait until they’ve been tried and tested a while longer, keep your ears open for news from the PCI Security Standards Council. When they’ve determined that certain apps are trustworthy, they’ll release information on them.

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