Which is Hotter, S’mores or Electronic Payments?

A wonderful thing about autumn in Minnesota is that it brings a crisp chill to our evenings, making them perfect for neighborhood campfires. And with campfires comes great conversation and (a personal favorite) s’mores. What surprised me during a recent evening was when the conversation turned to payments. Without prompting. Seriously.

It was a Friday night and while a dozen or so kids ran around playing Kick the Can and Ghost’s in the Graveyard, the parents huddled around a fire sharing stories and enjoying the start of a relaxing weekend. My ears perked up when I heard one of the parents, who owns a children’s dance studio, sharing her frustrations around invoicing her customers and getting them to pay on time.

“Invoicing is a nightmare and waiting for customers to pay me is even worse,” she said.

After listening for a few minutes I learned that she doesn’t have an invoicing system, so she’s manually creating hundreds of invoices each month. Some are sent by mail, some by email, and the rest are handed out in person. And even though payment is supposed to be made before each new dance session begins, she has some parents claiming “the check is in the mail” while others complain “why can’t I pay with a credit card?”

Her biggest frustrations centered around not having a way to invoice and receive payment easily. Soon, another parent chimed in suggesting, “Have you tried Square?”

Wait a second, this wasn’t a third-Thursday networking event. I was expecting soccer-mom stories and Fantasy Football updates, not this. But I wasn’t complaining.

Turns out the second mom works part-time with her husband, who has been a full-time ceramic artist for more than 20 years. He designs commissioned works in addition to selling at galleries and art shows. Since all of their customers are individual consumers, rather than businesses, she has been relying on Square for virtually all of her payments. Her only real complaint was that they pay nearly 3% in merchant fees.

Soon more parents joined the conversation, sharing stories from their perspectives at work, or as a consumer. I listened intently for awhile before one of my friends asked me, “Isn’t this what Viewpost is supposed to be solving?” Well, he couldn’t have lobbed up an easier softball than that, so I joined in.

I explained how Viewpost® enables companies to create and send electronic invoices, track their status, and receive electronic payment, for free. Then I shared how simple it is to send payments through Viewpost and create a network with all of your business customers and vendors so you can easily manage invoicing and payments in one place, from anywhere. Everyone seemed to love the concept and was disappointed to learn that Viewpost is currently focusing on business-to-business customers and isn’t supporting consumer payments (yet).

Eventually the conversation moved on, no doubt because the marshmallows and chocolate came out. But it’s great to hear the topic come up in everyday conversation. I suspect and hope that this will only increase over the coming months, as businesses (and the people behind them) become more and more frustrated with the inefficiencies that exist with the status quo.

Where will payments pop up next?

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