What is a Mobile Merchant Account?

N. Madison

A mobile merchant account allows a business person to process credit cards while he is traveling or away from his traditional business location. For example, a traveling salesman may use a mobile merchant account to process credit card sales he receives while going door to door or temporarily setting up shop in different towns. A person may also use a mobile merchant account to process sales obtained at a trade show, fair, or a flea market. Sometimes people in service businesses utilize these accounts as well. For instance, a plumber or electrician may have a mobile merchant account.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

Traditionally, a person who accepts credit card payments for his brick-and-mortar business has a credit card machine or processing system that isn't moved from location to location. An online business may, on the other hand, have its customers input their credit card information via a special order form on a website. A merchant account used in a brick-and-mortar store is often referred to as a traditional merchant account while an online system is called an Internet merchant account. A mobile merchant account differs from both of these because it doesn't include a credit card machine that is used in a fixed location, and it does not require the customer to input his own information online.

When a person has a mobile merchant account, he may process payments in much the same way as traditional merchant account holders. He may, for example, take a credit card from a customer and swipe it through a credit card machine. Once the payment is authorized, he may provide the customer with a receipt to sign. This procedure can be accomplished through a wireless swipe terminal that can be moved from place to place based on the merchant’s needs.

Sometimes a mobile merchant account allows a business person to process payments in the same way as an Internet merchant account holder. If a merchant has a computer with an Internet connection handy when he travels, he may process payments through a web-based credit card terminal. In such a case, he may just enter credit card payments online and click "submit."

An individual who opts for a mobile merchant account may even have the option of processing credit card payments via phone. He may call a phone number provided by his merchant account service and enter the required details of the payment. Some mobile merchant accounts allow telephone processing with any type of phone, allowing a merchant to use a traditional land line or a cell phone to process payments.

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