Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mobile Tools Impact Expectations of Association Members

While on a trip to the Yukon and British Columbia last month, I experienced a new payment process that I’ve not experienced in the lower 48.

When it came time to pay the bill at restaurants, rather than asking for my credit card, the server brought a mobile reader and asked me to enter the tip and swipe my card.

At first it was a bit off-putting adding the tip into the card reader while the server hovered (mostly to help me work the machine).

After thinking about it, however, I realized the value of the “at the table credit card system:” my credit card never left my hand. In today’s world of identity theft, that offered a great sense of security.

While I’m used to “mobile credit card readers” for rental cars, onboard snacks and other elements of travel, it is my first experience in restaurants. I’m assuming these systems are headed to U.S. restaurants.

Earlier this month, USA Today  ran an article about mobile payment options for small companies. Two prominent options are offered by Isis and Square. 

Last weekend, the Wall Street Journal ran a Page 1 story on Wal-Mart's testing of mobile checkouts.   "Employees at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are testing a new checkout system that allows shoppers to use their mobile phones to scan items as they walk through stores and pay at self-service kiosks, skipping the cashiers' lines." 

As you and other association professionals know, member experiences in their daily lives greatly influence their expectations from their associations.

Which suggests, associations need to be exploring mobile credit card processing systems for conferences, events and other “places” where your members are paying your association.

Has your association explored the availability and pricing of similar mobile payment systems? Your members are watching and waiting.


  1. That's a great question for associations. I've eaten at restaurants in DC area that have that mobile card reader, and I loved it! Definitely helps with less identity theft!

  2. Thanks Julie for keeping us up-to-date.

  3. This is a good source of information knowing that identity theft is a very sensitive issue. I would suggest that they do a lot of test regarding mobile payment before they open this to the public to prevent bigger damage.