A smartphone solution would make small businesses more interested in accepting card payments
A survey this spring of small businesses ordered by Eesti Pank shows that whether businesses offer multiple ways of paying depends on the number of payments they receive. They are generally satisfied with card payments, but the main reason that small businesses do not accept card payments is the cost. Being able to use smartphones as card payment terminals would make small merchants more interested in accepting card payments.
RAIT Faktum & Ariko carried out the survey this spring of small businesses and card payments to an order by Eesti Pank. It found that almost all small businesses that have over 30 transactions a day in Estonia accept card payments. Fewer than half of businesses, or 42%, offer card payments if their number of payments per day at the point of sale is very small at 1-4, and in that case they prefer clients to pay by bank transfer or in cash.
Around half of small businesses say that the main reason for not accepting card payments is that they want to save costs. This was given as the main reason by 42% of respondents, and as the second reason by 22%. They also said that it was a nuisance to have to own a separate card payment terminal. Card payments would be of more interest to 42% of respondents if they did not need a separate payment terminal and could use a smartphone as a terminal, with a dedicated app for accepting payments.
Where the company is based or the type of settlement it is in does not particularly affect whether it offers card payments. The biggest differences appear across sectors. The great majority of the food service outlets, at 98% of those who responded, offer card payments, while 84% of shops and other points of sale do so. Card payments are much less commonly accepted though at beautician services, at 45%, and at small companies repairing motor vehicles and other machinery at 48%.
Among those businesses that do not accept card payments, only 9% said that their clients frequently wanted to pay by card, while 46% said it happened rarely and 45% said that their clients do not want to pay by card. Only 1% of businesses responded that they prefer cash payments so that they can minimise their tax reporting. However 8% of respondents noted that purchasers can get the goods or services more cheaply if they pay in cash. This share was slightly smaller in Tallinn at 5%, and larger in other towns at 12%.
Among the respondents, 15% said they had earlier accepted card payments but later stopped doing so mainly because of the high cost and because their clients showed no great interest in it.
Small businesses that accept card payments were mainly satisfied with the service. One shortcoming that was particularly noted was the cost of the card payment solution, which was identified as an issue by 35% of respondents. Outages in the operation of card payments were noted as the main drawback by 12% of respondents. Other reasons such as funds being transferred slowly or payment terminals being an inconvenience were rarely mentioned.
The costs of offering card payments have remained the same over the past five years for 44% of companies, while a quarter of them consider that costs have increased, and a tenth find that they have fallen.
Businesses gave the operation of card payments a score out of five, giving an average of 3.9 for the operation of card payments, and of 4.1 for convenience. The scores given by the respondents were largely the same across sectors.
The survey ordered by Eesti Pank from RAIT Faktum & Ariko OÜ was designed to find the share of small businesses that do not accept card payments and prefer to use cash or bank transfers. It also researched how satisfied companies that offer card payments are with the card payment solutions. The survey was targeted at small merchants and other businesses that have a physical point of sales or service and fewer than 10 employees. A total of 410 businesses participated in the survey, of whom 137, or a third, do not accept card payments.
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