Improving Recurring Cash Collections with Mobile Payments

Improving Recurring Cash Collections with Mobile Payments


Sam Sharaf

Customer Success Architect, Zuora


In my conversations with our customers, especially in the B2C space, one of the most frequently discussed topics is mobile payments and how Zuoa supports them. This comes as no surprise to me, as mobile has become a key part of today’s enterprise, and increasing numbers of businesses are looking for ways to acquire customers on the mobile channel. Today I want to talk about mobile payments in the context of Zuora’s subscription platform. Specifically, howto use mobile devices along with Zuora to collect recurring payments using a credit card.

Over the past few years, mobile has become an integrated part of our daily lives. Whether it’s checking weather, finding directions, or paying by phone, mobile is everywhere.



Mobile Wallet is a multi-billion industry that keeps on growing. Transactions via mobile phones are forecast to grow 56% a year from 2011, reaching $1 trillion globally by 2015, according to research firm Yankee Group. As the Subscription Economy becomes mainstream, more and more of Zuora’s customers are looking for ways to not only acquire customers through mobile, but also to help process subscription payments via mobile devices.

Mobile payments is a pretty broad area, and so it’s worth investigating two common scenarios:

  1. Merchant collects payments via a mobile device e.g. card reader attached to a tablet or phone at a coffee house.

  2. Customer pays on a mobile device for merchant services e.g. I enter my credit card number while shopping with my iPhone.


The first scenario is more suited for one-time transactions. The second scenario is the one we will focus on in the context of recurring payments for businesses in the Subscription Economy.


Let’s cover a typical use case where a hypothetical media company “SubscriptionTimes.Com” would like to enable its subscribers to pay for subscriptions with both regular PCs and mobile devices.


Let’s say Zuora is providing recurring billing and payment services for SubscriptionTimes.Com. Here are three relevant use cases that the company would be interested in covering via mobile: acquiring new customers, enabling customers to make changes to their subscriptions (e.g. put on hold while on vacation) and allowing customers to use mobile channel for payments. Here, we’ll cover the last one.


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So what are my options to pay for the subscription using my mobile device ?


  1. I download the SubscriptionTimes.Com mobile app from an online app store and enter my credit card information. The mobile application will connect with Zuora Platform over REST API, and the credit card is stored in Zuora PCI compliant data center for processing subsequent transactions.


  1. Via a mobile-optimized responsive design website, I use my mobile device browser to purchase a subscription and use the payment page to enter my credit card information.


Zuora supports both options. In the first case, SubscriptionTimes.Com would build a native mobile app (for example using iOS SDK and Zuora’s REST API) to handle passing the credit card information securely from the mobile app to Zuora.


In the second case, SubscriptionTimes.Com would build a responsive design website, perhaps using the Twitter BootStrap framework. They can take advantage of Zuora’s HPM (Hosted Payment Page) to help end-customers enter credit card information securely. In case if they decide not to use HPM, SubscriptionTimes.Com can build a credit card capture form and then pass that information securely using a REST API implementing POST.

What about using Mobile Wallet Service Provider?

You could argue that there are a few other options, like using a payment service provider such as GoogleWallet, PayPal etc. The problem with using mobile payment platforms like these is that they provide SDK’s to store credit card information (usually in their own cloud servers) and pass a payment token to Zuora, rather than real credit card information. In that case, Zuora would need to connect to the payment platform to be able to translate that payment token to an actual credit card. So this option is not really a viable or recommended solution.


Native vs HTML5 MobileWeb?

While Zuora supports mobile payments both from native and mobileweb apps, we recommend using HTML5 based mobileweb interface for processing mobile payments in conjunction with Zuora Platform. This is because some native mobile app platforms such as Apple iOS and Google Android might require a 30% charge on each transaction originating from a native mobile app. Also, a well-designed responsive mobileweb app can scale itself automatically to various different mobile devices (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.). Given the proliferation of mobile devices and platforms, this is a very important consideration.



Companies can leverage a mobile payments platform to improve their cash collections for recurring payments. Here, we introduced how Zuora’s platform can support mobile payments on various mobile devices and platforms, as well as best practices and limitations.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, plan on joining us for Subscribed, Zuora’s annual conference, on Jun 2-4. At Subscribed we’ll cover this topic in much more depth and will have customers showcasing how they are leveraging mobile channels to acquire customers and process payments. Register today at


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