THE BLOG

Mobile Revolution for Small Traders

21/03/2013 16:18 GMT | Updated 19/05/2013 10:12 BST

Our relationship with our mobile phones has transformed from the days when all we did was text and talk, and with it our expectation of what we should be able to do anytime, anywhere.

What we now carry around in our pockets are more like mini computers, equipped with the capabilities of cameras, jukeboxes, libraries and games consoles. In the space of time it takes to download an app, almost limitless functionality can be added.

In fact, our phones now have more power than NASA had when they put a man on the moon in 1969!

Rather than being overwhelmed by this technology, we've embraced the way in which it helps make our lives easier. Phones are now expected to be a one-stop-shop for daily needs from navigating around town to paying bills, arranging transport or doing the weekly shop.

The rise of mobile in our everyday shopping habits is set to be the next big trend in UK retail. Already, we have become familiar with the idea that cash is no longer king. In 2010, card spending (£272 billion) overtook cash spending (£269 billion) for the first time, and annual card spending is predicted to balloon to £513 billion by the end of the decade.

But where the last decade has seen ubiquitous plastic overtake the pound in your pocket, the next ten years will see increasing numbers turning to their mobile to complete day-to-day transactions.

This is something consumers are undoubtedly ready for, with smartphone ownership at 61% among UK adults, one of the highest levels in the world.

And it's not just consumers that stand to benefit from improved mobile functionality - retailers, too, stand on the cusp of significant benefits, where currently they are faced by often crippling problems.

A recent survey by Intuit of 1,000 UK small businesses showed that only 19% of micro-businesses - firms with fewer than 10 employees - currently have the capacity to process card payments, with many put off by the cost of hardware and hefty subscription fees.

This is where flexibility of mobile and power of the cloud can benefit the seller as well as the buyer. Advances in technology now allow us to produce chip and PIN devices for mobile that comply with UK and EU regulations, giving our small business owners parity with their American counterparts, who have been taking card payments via mobile for several years now.

At Intuit, we have worked hard to ensure that UK small business owners can take advantage of the latest technology and benefit from mobile solutions to never miss a sale. Our new payment solution, Intuit Pay, allows retailers of all sizes to process payments anywhere - from their front garden to a pop-up shop or even - should the need arise - the top of the Shard!

With an easy and low cost way for accepting card payments on the go as well as via online when at home or the office when taking payments over the phone, Intuit Pay plans to bring an end to the days when retailers lost business because their customers didn't have the exact money to hand, or tradesmen are left waiting weeks to get paid.

What's more, while you make a sale via mobile in Manchester, the software is busy updating your accounts back in London, and warning you if stock is running low.

While the age of payment by plastic will always be associated with the rise to dominance of supermarkets and retailing giants, mobile has the capacity and above all the flexibility to put power back in the hands of small business owners.

Many quick sales that wouldn't have been possible even a few years ago could add up to a big consumer trend. With the power of mobile payment in their back pocket, suddenly the little guys are back in charge again.