Kenai businesses are modernizing, slowly but surely. After ordering a morning coffee, customers are passed miniature mobile devices through coffee-cart windows, and with a few screen taps, the financial transaction is complete.
Food trucks, home-based companies, and local stores are adopting new technologies as avenues for conducting their businesses, said C Cups Specialty Coffees owner Amy Jackman. But the progress is slow compared to the Lower 48 states, she said.
Jackman said she believes she is one of the first people in Alaska to have taken the technological leap two years ago. Her business was the first on the Kenai Peninsula to use Square, a credit card processing application for her finances.
“It is the most streamlined process I have ever seen,” Jackman said.
By making the switch, Jackman saves money, speeds up transactions and creates better security for her customers, she said. The only cost associated with Square is 2.75 percent charge every time a card is swiped, or a 3.25 percent charge if Jackman or one of her staff has to manually type in a card number, she said.
For her previous point of sale system, Jackman said she made a standard licensing payment of almost $1,000, and monthly fees of nearly $50. She said this new system is threatening big banking institutions by eliminating the middleman with a free application called Wallet.
Consumers now have the option of downloading the pay-later payment system, Jackman said. At her business, drivers with a Wallet account set up on their phones only have to approve that the C Cups’ system connects with their own, and then have to do nothing but order their coffee, she said.
The barista takes their order, punches it in on the iPad locked up to the counter beside the espresso machine and the customer pays later, Jackman said. Each Wallet user must take a photograph of themselves so the employee can verify the right person is accessing the application, she said.
Jackman has assisted upward of 50 locals in downloading and learning how to use Wallet, Square and Register — the application for cash register transactions.
Alaska is about two years behind the mobile movement, but people are catching on, Jackman said.
“People don’t understand it, so they feel they don’t have much control over the situation and chose to avoid it,” she said.
If more people took advantage of the new systems, it could be empowering, Jackman said. This type of technology can be used for any type of business, she said.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.