Payments in quarantine: taking payments remotely

As we all adapt to a new life under quarantine, SMEs are looking for ways to keep business running under the new rules.

how to take payments from your customers over the phone

Although we’re all confined to doing business from our homes, we’re still able to use technology to stay in touch with family, friends, and yes… even customers. Thanks to advances in current technology, businesses are still able to communicate with customers and accept payments. In fact, amidst the current turmoil, we do believe now is a good time to shift online and start taking payments remotely.

The advantages of remote payments


Until only recently, merchants needed specialised equipment in order to accept payments: a payment terminal, a till, a PDQ machine. The customer had to be physically present, and the merchant had to have the right technology to accept payments. 

Now, with mobile payment apps, merchants can request and accept payments from their phone. This makes the payment process incredibly convenient and frictionless: no need to be physically present, no need for specialised equipment and in some cases, no need for card details. By allowing customers to pay from the comfort of their own home, businesses are able to follow quarantine rules and therefore reduce the risk of exposing their customers.


Card terminals come with a setup fee, delivery fee, monthly rental fee, transaction fee, monthly minimum charges and much more! Accepting payments in person can seriously add up and turn out to be a large expense for some businesses – which is why many decide not to accept cards altogether. 

Accepting payments remotely through a mobile payments app removes these fees altogether. With an app such as Pomelo Pay, all merchants need to start accepting payments is a mobile phone and to pay a small processing fee of 1.49%. Whereas a card machine can end up being genuinely harmful to a business’ bottom line, a payments app will help increase revenue as well as keep expenses low. 


When it comes to accepting payments remotely, many businesses first think of accepting payments through phone-calls. The problem with this is that phone payments are more at risk of fraud than card payments, which may deter some customers from paying over the phone. 

For this reason, it’s advised to use a secure system to accept payments. By accepting payments through a QR code, all customer information is encrypted and customers don’t have to fill in their details on a website. Real-time reporting also means it’s easy to keep track of payments and detect suspicious activity. In addition to this, businesses are encouraged to fill in a Payment Card Industry Self-Assessment Questionnaire to make sure they are risk compliant. 

Setting up remote payments now

Nearly all business merchants are now being encouraged to move payments online, as social distancing is enforced and cash is discouraged. Businesses can use these new rules to start setting up remote payments, since customers will be more open to shifting their habits online under quarantine. 

Small businesses that find themselves in this position might first look into getting a virtual card terminal. These terminals offer the option to accept payments both online and in-person. Although they are great options for some SMEs, many card terminal companies will require merchants to buy a physical card reader, and for customers to download an app and create an account. Not only does this add friction to the payments process and business expenses, but owners are also kept waiting until the reader is delivered.

For this reason, alternatives such as mobile payment apps may be a better option for many companies. No card reader or payment account is needed, and set up is completed within a day!

How does the process work? By accepting payments with a mobile payment app such as Pomelo Pay, companies use a payment link to accept payments. This solution allows businesses to send a quick and simple payment link to their customers via email, WhatsApp or SMS. The customer clicks on the link and is taken to a secure payment portal where they can choose a payment method (such as credit or debit card, Google Pay or Apple Pay) and pay the request. The merchant is then notified that the customer has paid. 

Taking payments remotely has very quickly become a common practice due to the lockdown and quarantine in place. By setting up a frictionless, convenient and safe payment process, small businesses are able to keep running during these difficult times, all while following government rules and protecting their customers’ health.

Download the Pomelo Pay app for iPhone here
Download the Pomelo Pay app for Android here

Got a question? Contact us.

Written by Araminta Robertson