The Skinny on Mobile Card Scanners: Are They Safe and Should You be Using Them?

Written by | Field Service

Mobile card scanners are one of the biggest innovations to hit field services in quite a long time. Anyone who has spent time managing these kinds of outfits can tell you that getting paid consistently is one of the hardest rhythms to maintain. Customers routinely forget bills, ignore them or are flustered by what they think are inconvenient options for payment.

Mobile card scanners, if you are unfamiliar with them, offer a solution to this problem. These new scanners plug directly into modern mobile phones and allow you to swipe cards over your wireless network wherever you are. These scanners offer the awesome advantage of taking card payments anytime and anywhere.

This has really exciting applications for industries like electrical contracting, AC repair and other field service companies/occupations because it allows you to take payment for the invoice the minute the job is done. However, there are some business owners who are reluctant to embrace this trend, and they have some good reasons.

What about the Risks?

We live in a very exciting age, but for every story about how technology has made our lives easier, there is one about how our ability to collect so much information about ourselves in one space has come back to bite us. The modern manager has every reason to be deeply concerned about risks like cost and security. Let’s examine what mobile card scanners offer for each of those concerns.


You’d be right to assume that someone is collecting a paycheck for this convenience. The model is still somewhat in flux, but most mobile payment services rely on either subscriptions or transaction fees.

With some of the largest vendors, you’ll be paying a subscription based on how many payments you process, or how much money is processed in those payments. You may also have to pay a percent of each collected payment as a fee.

It’s up to you whether these fees should be considered reasonable. The % fee usually ranges between 2-3% for all of the major vendors. That can certainly add up to a lot of money a year, but if you have trouble collecting payments at all, it may be a better solution. It certainly has been for many businesses.


Many of the people who are waiting to adopt this new technology are doing so because they’re concerned about security. Competing providers were even attacking and accusing one another about security when the service was being born around 2011.

However, since that time, a calm seems to have settled. The technology continues to expand and even improve to reading phones instead of cards. This is a major innovation, because cards (particularly their magstripe) were accused of being the most insecure part of any payment process, mobile or otherwise.

If you already work with credit card companies, nothing about the experience of using mobile scanners will be new. Just like credit cards, you and your customers can’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges, though you probably know from working with credit cards that those can still be a hassle of statements and paperwork.

The Full Skinny?

Mobile card processing has already come into it’s own as a new technology. Many people are using it, and many customers are starting to demand it. It may not be necessary for all businesses, but it certain industries, it may soon become vital to staying competitive.

Last Updated By: Rochelle Sanchirico


Last modified: January 16, 2018

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