In late 2010, while working for one of the world’s largest retailers, I found myself sitting in our office building’s grand ballroom (really, an oversized conference room) among a group of executives from the nation’s top cellular service companies. Mobile was growing faster than anyone anticipated, they said. We needed to be prepared to support all stages of the consumer’s experience on a handheld device, from allowing them to browse our inventory to making a payment to completing their purchase.

Given how completely the landscape has changed, it’s difficult to believe that was just over five years ago. While mobile technologies are still in their early days, usage is growing quickly with a recent survey by Accenture finding 14 percent of respondents routinely making payments via their mobile device, a number expected to surge to 22 percent by 2020.  As you might expect, Millennials are driving much of this growth with 23 percent of Millennials making a mobile payment at a merchant location at least weekly. A trend report from Gartner predicts mobile commerce revenues will grow to half of U.S. digital commerce revenue by 2017.

But mobile payments aren’t just for retailers – many of the consumers choosing to transact via their handheld device are also members of your association.  Already, members may be making payments via their phone or tablet for typical purchases on your website. They may choose to renew a membership or purchase research via their phone during a mobile commute or on a tablet from their sofa – and you’d never know.

We’re also seeing a lot of interest in point-of-sale solutions and it’s easy to understand why! Have you ever lugged a piece of clunky computer equipment to your annual meeting? Solicited donations for your foundation at a luncheon only to find your members don’t have their checkbook? Or, maybe you’re looking to grow membership among young professionals and head out to a local college or university to introduce your organization to new members. A mobile payment processor and a couple of iPads (perhaps borrowed from volunteers or your staff) allow you to simplify and streamline the payment process for day-of registration.

New tools have created tremendous flexibility in how, when, and where an association can collect payment, and many payment processors have made it possible to turn any smart device into a point of sale device, an instant portal for making secure payment at whatever appropriate opportunity, whether in your annual conference store or onsite at a networking event. Many payment processors, including Abila’s preferred partners (Sage Payment Solutions and Vantiv), offer hardware that can be easily configured and integrates seamlessly with your existing setup.

The use for digital payments is ever evolving and changing quickly, but what is certain is that the payments landscape will remain dynamic, and increasingly digital. To win in digital payments, keep it simple, make it personal, and ensure that payment methods are seamlessly integrated into your members’ everyday lives.