There is no doubt that the continued progress in moving to digital forms of transactions has made a big impact on the global economy. There is also no doubt that the key to helping push this move further is on the acceptance side.

After all, if your local merchant or mom-and-pop store only accepts cash, there is nothing you can do other than pay in cash. Many small and medium-size businesses and individual contractors only accept cash or checks. In fact, the U.S. remains behind Europe when it comes to moving away from checks, and in many other countries, even larger merchants only accept cash. While there are many reasons why certain segments of merchants do not accept cards, one big reason is the unjustifiable cost the merchant has to endure. Case in point: 55% of small businesses in the U.S. still don’t accept credit cards.

If the payments industry is ever going to achieve its lofty goal of nearly doubling global card acceptance from 47 million to more than 90 million devices by 2020, it’s clear that reducing the cost of acceptance is exactly how we will get there.

Moving away from hardware is crucial to such a transformation. Think of it this way: In an era where everything is virtualized and downloadable, why do we still have to contend with arcane, specialized devices to accept payments? As with my Nikon camera and my Sony CD player, acceptance devices from the likes of Ingenico, VeriFone, and even Square will eventually disappear and be replaced with mobile apps.

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