Enabling contactless in-person payments at scale—with only an iPhone


Accept payments online, in person, and around the world with a payments solution built for any business – from scaling startups to global enterprises.

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  1. Introduction
  2. The current state of in-person payments for platforms
    1. Why are in-person payments important for platforms?
    2. Challenges to supporting in-person payments
    3. Opportunities for streamlined in-person payments at scale
  3. Tap to Pay on iPhone as a solution
    1. What is Tap to Pay on iPhone?
    2. Why Tap to Pay on iPhone is an ideal solution for platforms

If you’re thinking about strategy and growth for your platform business, these questions might be top of mind:

  • What experiences are our users and their customers seeking?
  • How can we consistently provide outstanding customer experiences on a large scale?
  • What causes friction in payments and how can we mitigate it?
  • How do we achieve and maintain a competitive advantage?

For modern platforms, one solution is able to address these questions comprehensively: contactless in-person payments.

The popularity of contactless payments has soared. Fifty-one percent of Americans now use some form of contactless payment, which includes tap to pay credit cards and mobile wallets like Apple Pay.

Businesses have also discovered new use cases, including mobile settings such as farmers’ markets and craft fairs, where traditional payment devices are not practical or convenient. The convergence of consumer preference and business need has driven the development of contactless payments solutions that offer businesses a way to ramp their in-person revenue growth.

Among these contactless payments solutions, Tap to Pay on iPhone enables businesses to offer seamless in-person payments without additional hardware or extensive implementation efforts.

By offering Tap to Pay on iPhone, platforms can support in-person payment use cases without dedicated card readers or complex setups. Platforms can empower businesses to transact seamlessly in diverse use cases—such as farmers’ markets, concert venues, food trucks, and craft fairs—all without compromising security, efficiency, or the customer experience.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

  • Why in-person payments are important for platforms
  • Current challenges with supporting in-person payments
  • How Tap to Pay on iPhone is uniquely positioned to solve for these challenges
  • How Tap to Pay on iPhone is currently being used by leading businesses

The current state of in-person payments for platforms

Why are in-person payments important for platforms?

The use of tap to pay technology continues to rise in the United States as it becomes more commonly included in both mobile devices and payment terminals. This trend is expected to continue, with analysts estimating that tap to pay transactions will grow by over 150% by 2028.

Businesses that accept payments through platforms may struggle to find contactless payment methods that are simple, fast, and secure. Platforms that offer contactless payments solutions can differentiate their features and build competitive advantages. Conversely, platforms that are slow to innovate could risk losing market share as businesses look for ways to support their in-person use cases.

Offering businesses the ability to accept contactless payments helps them:

  • Meet customer expectations
    Businesses that sell to customers can increase satisfaction by offering the payment methods that their customers prefer. A few years ago, accepting credit and debit cards—plus newer tech-enabled payment methods like digital wallets—would have set businesses apart and delighted consumers. But these payment options have become a must-have as customers look for more convenience.

  • Grow revenue
    By enabling more payment types, businesses can increase their sales volume by accepting payments from customers in more places, on more flexible terms.

  • Maintain their competitive advantage
    Providing effortless, contactless in-person payment options can differentiate businesses from competitors and give them an advantage in the market. Customers want frictionless payment methods that deliver a great experience—and they will choose the platform that does this best.

  • Operate more efficiently
    Businesses that accept in-person payments via off-platform solutions spend more time on back-office tasks like reconciling payments or inventory. By offering contactless in-person payments, your platform helps to reduce the time and resources spent on integrating across all commerce channels.

  • Enhance customer experience
    Platforms that help their businesses accept payments via customers’ preferred method enjoy greater loyalty, satisfaction, and retention from said businesses. Providing a seamless and integrated customer experience should be the goal for every platform.

  • Expand into new markets
    When platforms implement an approach that allows them to quickly offer secure, in-person payments at scale with minimal startup cost or friction, it’s easier for them to expand into new market segments and geographic regions that were previously unreachable, or unreachable in an efficient way.

Challenges to supporting in-person payments

To identify the ideal solution, we need to look at the barriers platforms face when it comes to in-person payments.

Platforms may struggle to assess strategic questions like: which payment aspects make sense to keep in-house? Which aspects are more suitably handled by a third-party provider? What are the options, and what are the pros and cons of each?

Creating an actionable strategy for offering in-person payments at scale can be a sizable, time-consuming, and costly process—not to mention the ongoing commitment of executing and maintaining that strategy.

Let’s look at the key challenges and barriers that platforms commonly run into:

Payments infrastructure costs

Establishing the core infrastructure for in-person payments can incur substantial costs, especially for platforms serving a large number of businesses.

These expenses include various components such as hardware (e.g., POS systems), software, network infrastructure, and the ongoing maintenance and upgrades associated with them. These infrastructure costs can present a significant barrier to entry, particularly for smaller businesses.

In addition to the direct infrastructure expenses, platforms need to maintain compliance with legal and regulatory entities if they build their own in-person payments solution. This includes investments in training, monitoring, and reporting to guarantee adherence to payment regulations. The complexities of compliance mean that ongoing efforts are required to ensure the payment system aligns with the regulatory framework, which is costly and time-consuming.

Accepting payments in more places

Platforms increasingly recognize that their businesses need hardware-free in-person payments solutions to meet their varied use cases.

Traditional payment devices may not meet the business and customer expectations, especially in scenarios that require mobility or flexibility, or where there is no brick-and-mortar location. Deploying new hardware at scale becomes challenging and impractical in these situations, highlighting the importance of exploring alternative approaches that eliminate reliance on physical devices.

Fraud prevention and security

Managing in-person payments at scale requires robust security measures to combat fraud and ensure compliance with regulations like local laws, licensing requirements, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations, tax obligations, data protection standards, and more.

While card-present transactions generally offer a lower risk of fraud compared to card-not-present transactions, security concerns remain prevalent—not only within businesses, but among customers. In a recent study, only 35% of respondents said they trust big tech companies with their payments.

Opportunities for streamlined in-person payments at scale

These challenges wouldn’t be worth taking on if they didn’t hold immense upside. Providing a seamless and integrated in-person payment experience can enhance the customer experience and increase customer loyalty.

According to a study from McKinsey, 75% of customers say they want a seamless experience across in-store and online channels. In-person payments can also enable businesses to expand into new markets.

By implementing solutions like Tap to Pay on iPhone with the Stripe Terminal SDK (which we’ll explore in more detail shortly), platform businesses can easily enable contactless in-person payments at scale.

Existing solutions fail to fully address platforms’ needs for scalable in-person payments because they require traditional hardware. Shipping, setting up, and ongoing technical management of traditional devices can pose significant challenges for new businesses.

For platforms looking to offer in-person payments efficiently and at scale, there are gaps left by the current range of solutions. The ideal solution would fulfill the following requirements:

  • Fast and easy start-up: Platforms can enable their businesses to start accepting payments right away, with minimal friction or setup.

  • Inexpensive to deploy and maintain: Platforms don’t have to devote too much time or resources to implementing, scaling, and managing this payment solution.

  • Responsive to the demands of consumers: The ideal in-person payment solution accommodates all of the top payment methods preferred by global customers.

  • Supported in many locations: Platforms can adapt to the specific needs of different locations with low-maintenance and scalable solutions.

  • Integrates easily with existing payment systems: The right solution is one that doesn’t require a full-scale overhaul of a platform’s existing infrastructure and operations.

Tap to Pay on iPhone as a solution

What is Tap to Pay on iPhone?

With Tap to Pay on iPhone and the Stripe Terminal SDK, you can accept in-person contactless payments with only an iPhone—without the need for extra hardware. Every transaction is protected by the security and privacy features built into the iPhone.

Here’s a rundown of the key advantages:

  • Grow your revenue and reach: Accept payments from more customers in more places, from traditional retail to mobile events like pop-up shops, farmers’ markets, concerts, and more.
  • Integrate and roll out with speed: Set up your integration in as little as a few days. Users can start taking payments in minutes once they download your app.
  • Build flexible payments: Offer businesses more flexibility to manage in-store queues and deliver new experiences.
  • Scale quickly: Allow businesses to accept contactless payments without purchasing or maintaining traditional hardware.
  • Maintain security and privacy: The Stripe Terminal SDK provides end-to-end encryption by default. With Tap to Pay on iPhone, business and customer data is protected by the security and privacy features built into the iPhone. Card numbers from transactions are not stored on iPhones or Apple servers.

Why Tap to Pay on iPhone is an ideal solution for platforms

Tap to Pay on iPhone is a cost-effective, secure, compliant, and streamlined solution for platforms that support all types of businesses, especially solo entrepreneurs and small businesses.

No extra payments hardware

Eliminating the need for new payment hardware helps platforms cut through the costs and friction that weigh down efforts to offer in-person payments at scale.

Tap to Pay on iPhone doesn’t require a separate card reader, meaning users can get started quickly and easily without waiting for payment hardware to be shipped to them—all they need is their iPhone and an enabled app.

For example, FareHarbor, a platform serving tour and travel operators, sought faster and simpler ways to enhance booking and check-in experiences in response to the increased demand for contactless payments and mobile-friendly interactions in the tourism industry.

By integrating with the Stripe Terminal SDK and implementing Tap to Pay on iPhone, FareHarbor provided its operators with the ability to accept in-person contactless payments using just an iPhone. This solution improved efficiency, enabled operators to accept payments on the go, and resulted in increased user adoption.

Clients such as Island Life Bike Rentals and Going Blue experienced significant time savings during transactions and saw improvements in customer satisfaction. Tap to Pay on iPhone became a valuable tool for FareHarbor’s clients, enabling them to deliver seamless experiences to their customers on the go.

Easy integration

Tap to Pay on iPhone is part of the Stripe Terminal SDK, which connects with other Stripe products using a single integration. This means that platform businesses can quickly provide in-person payment options to their businesses, without the need for extensive technical support or complex hardware.

Shopify is an example of this in action. By offering Tap to Pay on iPhone with the Stripe Terminal SDK, businesses using Shopify can now accept in-person payments in diverse mobile settings, such as field events and tourist attractions. This has increased payment flexibility and enabled businesses to provide a fast, seamless customer experience.

Unified payments online and in-person

Tap to Pay on iPhone and the Stripe Terminal SDK, together with other Stripe products, give platforms a fast, simple way to start accepting and unifying online and in-person payments for a single source of customer purchase history.

GlossGenius, a platform for beauty and wellness entrepreneurs, sought to consolidate business operations and provide personalized experiences for its businesses. GlossGenius was able to offer simple and flexible payment options to its customers with Tap to Pay on iPhone and Stripe Terminal SDK.

As a result, GlossGenius experienced significant growth, managing over $1 billion in credit card payments and attracting more businesses than in the previous four years combined.


Tap to Pay on iPhone supports a variety of payment methods, including credit and debit cards, as well as mobile wallets like Apple Pay. This flexibility means that businesses can accept payments however their customers prefer.

To learn more about how Tap to Pay on iPhone can grow in-person revenue for platforms, start here. Ready to talk about how Tap to Pay on iPhone can solve your specific needs and challenges? Get in touch with our team now.

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