The Ins & Outs of Credit Card Machines Decoded

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How a mobile credit card machine works

  • About contactless card payment services

  • The benefits of using an app-based credit card service

In general credit cards are processed at retail terminals in much the same way as debit cards – 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 proper training for the employee operating it.

Today a credit card machine is much more likely to be smaller and easier to use. In addition, portable and handheld card machines are just as likely to be used as a fixed terminal.

The Mobile Credit Card Machine Explained

Ideal for restaurants, where customers might prefer 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 and PIN data and gratuities can be entered by the customer at ease-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 a service still does not suit every sort of vendor. Those who work in different locations, a mobile hairdresser, for example, will not be able to cart around a big base unit like this. 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.

A portable card machine app does away with the need for payment terminals and the app handles the entire process.

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.

Contactless Payment Services

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 cardholder, so transactions are usually restricted to an upper limit by the service provider in order to eliminate the chances of fraud. Such as SumUp Air card terminal can speed up payment processing and thereby reduce queuing times.

Typical Credit Card Machine Features

Since it was first introduced into the retail environment, superseding the commonplace use of cheques, the credit card machine has evolved 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 cardholder 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 also allow customers to enter a tip if they want. Another common feature of some types of terminal is their multi-merchant capability.

Advantages of App-Based Credit Card Services

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 app-based 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 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.

In Summary

The credit card machine has rapidly evolved and is now no longer limited to a fixed spot in the store and a huge outer body. Mobile credit card processing services, including those which are app-based, have risen as the new norm for payment processing and make taking payments easy, safe and radically convenient.

SumUp offers you the best solution in card payments

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With SumUp, you can quickly and easily accept credit and debit card payments with your smartphone or tablet.