Generally speaking, credit cards are processed at retail terminals in much the same way as debit cards – that is, via a payment terminal. Also referred to as a point of sale terminal – or a PDQ machine in the UK – these devices read the embedded information on the card and send that information to the vendor’s service provider. At this point, the service provider is able to authorise the transaction and transfer the funds for the sale to the vendor. In the past, the machines that carried out these functions were often bulky and required a fixed telephone line as well as training to operate properly. Nowadays, a credit card machine is much likely to be smaller and offer users a simpler operation. In addition, portable and hand-held card machines are just as likely to be used as a fixed terminal.
Ideal for restaurant applications, where customers might like to pay for their service from the table without having to head to the payment terminal, a mobile credit card machine is a portable unit that transmits data wirelessly from the device back to its base unit. Credit card details, including other functions like chip & PIN data and gratuities can be entered by the customer safe in the knowledge that their data is being sent remotely to the base unit in an encrypted way, meaning that private details cannot be intercepted. Once the data is received by the base unit, the whole process works like a fixed line point of sale terminal, with contact being made with the service provider over a telephone connection. However, in today’s business environment, such as service still does not suit every sort of vendor, perhaps those who work in different locations, such as mobile hairdressers, for example. In such cases, services like SumUp’s portable card machine app can be employed. Essentially, this means that card payments can be taken with any normal smart device, so long as a connection to the mobile telephone network can be established. The clever system does away with the need for payment terminals and the app handles the entire process, from entering the card details to contacting the service provider for the transfer of funds.
Another recent development with payment terminal technology has been the introduction of the contactless NFC card machine. This technology is able to work with smart cards and key fobs as well as credit and debit cards. The cards’ embedded chip data is transmitted to the terminal via near field communication or radio frequency identification. The system requires no signature verification or PIN to be entered by the card holder, so transactions ore usually restricted to an upper limit by the service provider in order to eliminate the chances of fraud. Such a card terminal can speed up payment processing and thereby reduce queuing times.
Since it was first introduced into the retail environment, superseding the commonplace use of cheques, the credit card machine has developed in many ways, with numerous features added to simple payment processing. Firstly, key entry systems were developed to enable credit cards to be processed when the card holder is not present, usually for mail order transactions or purchases made over the phone. This allows users to type in card numbers directly into the credit or debit card machine. These days, many terminals will allow customers to enter a tip, if they want, too. Another common feature of some types of terminal is multi-merchant capability.
As mentioned, one of the benefits of an app-based credit card system is that it can be used just about anywhere in the world in order to process payments for goods and services. As well as providing a secure connection for the customer, so that their details are kept private, the system means that the vendor no longer needs specialist equipment, like payment terminals, or dedicated fixed lines to connect to the service provider - both of which usually incur monthly costs. In addition, mobile technology for credit cards tends to be charged for only according to the transaction value with no fixed fees from the service provider, a great advantage for people who only want to use the service from time to time.
With SumUp, you can quickly and easily accept credit and debit card payments with your smartphone or tablet.