The PDQ Machine: Defined

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What a PDQ machine is
  • Types of credit card terminals
  • Benefits of a PDQ card reader

What is a PDQ machine?

PDQ, “Process Data Quickly”. While we’re surprised it hasn’t caught on in our everyday tech lingo, when used in conjunction with the word “machine”, a PDQ machine merely refers to a machine that reads a credit or debit card while ensuring that the card user is also the cardholder by requesting a PIN number. You’re probably more familiar with the term Chip and PIN machine.

The predecessor to today’s PDQ terminals were card terminals whose security system depended on the store’s employee to compare the signature on the back of the debit or credit card to that on the recently-signed receipt. While the best at the time, we now consider this method quite insecure given the Chip and PIN technology we have now.

Whether you’re a small business, a vendor at a popup event or a local market, it’s likely you’ve realized the expectation your customers have that they be able to pay by card. Perhaps you’ve even had customers who initially desired to purchase something from you leave without returning simply because the option to pay by card was non-existent.

two PDQ machines icon

What’s stopping you from utilising a PDQ machine?

Let’s walk through the benefits of having one for your business and see if we can dispel any doubts you may have. Trust us, offering optimal payment options only maximises your business marketing strategy.

There are 3 main types of PDQ machines

Countertop: This is the classic type of PDQ machine that sits permanently on the counter next to the til. They are the most widespread payment terminal in use as they are the forerunners of the technology and used primarily by businesses with a fixed location.

Portable: Using Bluetooth technology, these card readers are connected to a home base unit within the store, allowing portability within the store. This lets employees process payments away from the counter as multiple readers can connect to a home base unit at the convenience of the customer’s location within the store. This flexibility reduces customer waiting times.

Mobile: This is the latest evolvement of the PDQ terminal, which allows merchants to accept card payments anywhere they have WiFi or mobile data coverage. This means that the point of business can be as mobile as your smartphone. Traveling sole traders, popups or conferences can all easily utilise this wireless point of sale (mPOS).

SumUp lives to provide this flexibility as we have merchants who are band members selling merchandise on tour, dog trainers working outside and comic book convention exhibitors who utlise their SumUp card reader to get paid for doing what they love, wherever that may be.

Why PDQ terminal?

As mentioned earlier, card terminals using chip technology provide utmost security for both you and your customers and protects against fraud which was previously rampant among credit card users whose cards did not have chip technology.

We’re here to tell you that the benefits of having a card reader in your place of business far outweighs any cons you may still have floating around in your mind.

  • Security: No need to have large amounts of cash on hand as this increases risks related to robbery, counterfeiting and internal theft.
  • Customer expectation: Today’s customers expect to be able to pay by card and this option can greatly influence their opinion of a business.
  • Fewer cash-related errors: Studies have shown that companies using card readers experience fewer cash-related financial losses due to money handling errors than those who don’t utilise them.
  • Affordable: Gone are the days when a PDQ machine equaled a bulky piece of machinery that’s also expensive. There are multiple card readers out there that you can hold in the palm of your hand that also won’t break your bank.

Now small businesses have many affordable and reliable options for PDQ machines. Take SumUp, for example. We offer our merchants a pay-per-transaction card reader free from a fixed contract, that allows our merchants to only pay when they get paid. Additionally, SumUp is a mobile POS system, which means our card reader can go with you to the market, convention or just about anywhere you can get WiFi or data connection!

Smartphone and PDQ machine for small business

The convenience and ease of use by which your customers can pay will end up serving your small business in the long run. Having a card reader allows customers more payment options, a faster transaction time, and if you have an mPOS, a wider range of mobility. Greater convenience leads to greater satisfaction, and we all know that a positive customer experience is a prime factor in developing and maintaining brand loyalty.


In Summary

PDQ machines are a must for today’s business owners who desire to increase customer satisfaction by allowing them the option to pay by card. Countertop, portable or mobile, the decision to incorporate a card reader into your business infrastructure has never been clearer as the advantages have never been greater.

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