This article was originally posted on The SmartVan on November 12, 2014.

Paper or plastic? The answer may be neither pretty soon. Most field service organizations are working hard to go paperless, and, with the help of the cloud and other technologies, the paperwork that used to pile up after a client visit or service repair is disappearing in favor of digital copies. Next on the docket? Invoicing and billing processes. Apple’s recent introduction of Apple Pay to it’s latest generation of iPhones, iPads and wearables may help speed the process of a plastic-less payment transaction between techs and customers.

A number of mobile payment options have taken hold in recent years targeting mobile workers and small businesses, but they still require the customer to produce a card to swipe. Apple Pay and other NFC (near-field communication) payment systems such as Google Wallet, eliminate the plastic entirely. NFC systems use wireless technology to connect with a mobile device and collect bank or credit card information for payment. Although Google Wallet and other NFC-based systems have been available at major retailers over the last few years, Apple’s entry into the space could be a game-changer for techs collecting payment in the field. Here’s why:

1. All Next Generation Apple Phones, Wearables and Mobile Devices Will Support Apple Pay: Since more than 20 percent of U.S. consumers could have access to Apple Pay by the end of the year, there will be a large number of people utilizing the technology soon, Apple analyst Tim Bajarin told USA Today. “About 30 million of these NFC-based phones would be capable of using Apple Pay this year,” Bajarin says. With Apple’s new wearable watch set to hit the market in early 2015, coupled with a new cohort of iPhone 6 owners entering the fold after the holidays, the number of Apple payers will only go up. People will soon expect Apple Pay to be accepted by all companies — large and small. Service organizations ahead of the trend could attract more business simply by being prepared to accept this form of payment on the spot.

2. Extra Security Will Help Customers Feel More Comfortable: With Heartbleed and other mobile payment breaches top of mind for consumers, the extra security offered by NFC payment options and Apply Pay should ease the mind of those wary to trust digital payments. Apple will utilize NFC chips, it’s fingerprint authorization technology and multiple levels of security confirmations (happening behind the scenes, so the process will remain quick and easy) to help protect both the customer and the merchant from a breach. For example, Apple Pay will use the encrypted NFC technology to wirelessly connect with the merchant’s register and, for authentication purposes, generate a unique security code for every transaction.

3. Apple is Uniting with Businesses and Banks: Before it even released the Apple Pay software, the company was sure to grab big names in retail and banking to champion its cause. According to Entrepreneur, nearly 220,000 merchants are already equipped to accept the form of payment. Apple Pay also already works with major credit cards (American Express, Visa and MasterCard) as well as 11 banks including Bank of America, WellsFargo and Chase.

One downfall to the system is that the way to accept NFC payment as a field worker doesn’t necessarily exist yet. There needs to be an appropriately connected register to connect with the device in order to accept the payment. The register makes sense for brick and mortar stores, but could pose a problem for folks in the field. There are already toggles available to accept the payment, though, so it could only be a matter of time before the NFC register takes to the field and the mobile wallet becomes a reality.

Image via Flickr user Sam Churchill

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