The mobile payment debate enters a new phase

Take it from me, a political fundraiser needs to be able to accept a donation in a way that incurs the least amount of trouble for the donor. The easier the process of making a gift, the more likely a donor is to give. It’s really that simple.

The mobile payment world is making great strides toward easing the transfer of funds from donor to candidate. Unfortunately, campaigns are still struggling with the problem of collecting the cash.

It’s not just a numbers game. It’s about getting the donor’s correct address, occupation and employer information. Without this info, the FEC won’t allow a campaign to accept any donation over $200. Entering the required FEC info into a mobile device takes lots of keystrokes, which isn’t always easy at a cocktail party or a campaign event. We refer to this as “fundraising friction.”

Here’s what to keep in mind for 2012 and beyond:

There’s probably not going to be a large mobile payment disruptor in terms how political funds are raised beyond processing traditional credit cards using iPhones, iPads or Androids with HTML5 donation webpages. The problem still lies in the fact that the fundraiser needs to enter the personal and employment information required by the FEC. Card swipes a la Square and NFC have yet to replace these required keystrokes.

The mobile payment playing field is pretty open and credit card transactions are continuing to whittle away at the old handwritten check. By 2014, old-school checks will only make up 35 percent of all political transactions. On top of that, candidates will be accepting both credit card and non-credit card donations via mobile phone.

Until then, we’ll just have to keep hitting those keystrokes.

Erik currently runs sales and marketing for CMDI, the largest Republican fundraising technology platform. Prior to joining CMDI, Erik founded numerous fundraising technology companies whose products have raised over $300 million for hundreds of political and cause-based organizations.

A version of this post was also published on CMDI’s blog.


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