Mobile Payment Options for your Equestrian Business


If you’re a hardworking trainer, braider, or other horse professional, you might find that getting paid by cash and check is getting harder as our society becomes increasingly cashless. The good news is, there are many easy methods for accepting payment electronically, which will make your life and your clients’ lives easier. Here are a few of the most popular ones.


Even if you haven’t used it, you’ve most likely heard of PayPal. It is the most popular payment processing site in the world, and handles peer-to-peer transfers, all eBay sells and countless online transactions. PayPal is free to set up on the PayPal website or mobile app.

When setting up your account, you can choose between personal and business. Personal is good if you’re going to use the account for online shopping and exchanging money between friends and family. The business account works well if you’re going to have multiple account holders, or are using PayPal to transfer money for professional services.

Your PayPal account links to your email address or phone number, so when you want to send or request money, you give that information to the other party. PayPal connects to your bank account, debit card, or credit card. It also allows you to send invoices, which is useful for businesses because you can fill out a form with the services provided, hours, rates, and the total owed.

PayPal’s fee structure is straightforward: the person sending the money never pays any fees; the person receiving it pays 2.9% plus $0.30, unless the buyer/payor pays via the Friends and Family option (this option does not allow the buyer/payor to open a dispute with PayPal if the services they paid for are not rendered, but the Goods and Services option associated with the fees does).

Transferring your PayPal balance to your bank is free, but does take a few days.


Venmo is a rapidly growing mobile payment option that allows you to either sign up with your email account and manually enter all of your information, or to sign up via Facebook and have all of your details entered for you. Like with PayPal, you link a card or a bank account.

Venmo operates a bit more like a trendy social media app than PayPal does–you can add friends on Venmo and find others through their Venmo username, email address, or phone number.

The fee structure is simple: when using your Venmo balance, a bank account, or a debit card, it’s free to use. If you’re using a credit card to send money, you pay a 3% fee. However, that credit card fee does not apply when purchasing from an authorized business.

As with PayPal, transferring your money to your bank takes a few days. It is free, unless you select the instant transfer option, which is 1% (with a minimum of $0.25 and a maximum of $10).


Zelle is very similar to Venmo, but was jointly created by seven of the largest banks in the US, and is now the most-used peer-to-peer payment app in the country. The biggest difference between Zelle and Venmo is that the bank transfer is always instant and free of charge.

When you sign up for Zelle, you select your bank from the list of available banks. If your bank offers Zelle within its app, you can do all of your Zelle transactions inside your bank’s mobile app and therefore don’t need the Zelle app at all (for instance, Chase Quick Pay uses Zelle now). Otherwise, you can enter your debit card information in the Zelle app and use it there.

Sending and requesting money works in a similar way to Venmo and PayPal: you use the person’s email address or phone number. In Zelle, you can also set a due date on requests.

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Square is a slightly different beast. It’s one of several–and probably the best known–credit card processing and business management tools. Though the initial setup is more involved than the other mobile payment options, Square is complex and therefore suitable for a business with employees, inventory, tracking, and so on.

Through its hardware and software, Square allows you to swipe or enter credit cards, print receipts, and so on. You can take online payments, create invoices via email, and accept online or automated payments. Their software suite also gives you tools for tracking inventory, sales, employee management, customer information, etc.

The costs associated with using Square vary widely depending on what you want to do with it, but it’s relatively inexpensive if you just want to use a magstripe reader with your phone. In that case, it is free to set up and the magstripe reader is also free, but there are some fees associated with each payment (ranging from 2.75% to 3.5%, depending on the payment method). These fees are paid by the seller/the owner of the Square account. If you want a card reader that reads chips and taps, you pay $50 for the reader but the fees associated are the same.

If you want a more involved set up, you can either buy their iPad register set up or their new Square register, and the fees they charge vary on which option you choose (the Square register fees are lower, but it’s about $1000 to buy the register, whereas the iPad set up is closer to $165 if you already have an iPad). You can also take payments online with a 3.5% charge per transaction.

There are similar tools out there (like ShopKeep) that have varying capabilities and fees. It’s worth shopping around if you want that sort of program.

Overall, there are a lot of ways you can streamline your payment systems for your services so that you can worry less about who is going to remember to pay you this time and more about doing the job you love!

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About the Author: Jess is a professional historian and educator who lives in northwestern Virginia. They completed their undergraduate degree in English at William & Mary, and did their masters and doctoral work at the University of Florida. Jess is an event rider with a passion for thoroughbreds, and has extensive experience in community organizing around queer identities, racial marginalization, and labor.
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