Why do small businesses absolutely need credit card machines? The cashless society certainly seems to be on its way. More than 60 percent of UK adults possessed a credit card at the end of 2011, and some 90 percent had a debit card. Total card purchases for 2011 were close to £500 billion. Clearly any retail business that has not yet begun accepting card payments with credit card machines had better do so, and quickly.
Most credit card machines run on PDQ technology (“Parallel Data Query” or “Process Data Quickly”), communicating with the merchant bank to validate card payments via an Internet connection or a wireless connection. PDQ accelerates the validation process by breaking down a query into pieces so that several parts of it can be searched simultaneously. Most card terminals can process a payment in less than six seconds.
Over the past decade Chip and PIN technology has replaced hand signatures as a method of validating card transactions. “Chip” refers to a computer chip embedded in the customer’s debit or credit card, and “PIN” for the Personal Identification Number the customer supplies to confirm identity as the owner of the card.
Merchant card service providers typically offer card machines along with their processing services. You may also purchase your credit card reader separately, from one of a growing number of UK suppliers, and still use it with your existing merchant service provider. You can even rent a credit card terminal, which is a popular option for start-ups and merchants working the occasional trade show or adding capacity for the Christmas holiday season.
As we stated at the outset, any business that sells any product or service would probably expand its sales by accepting credit card payments, and to do so they need a credit card machine. Portable hardware and mobile networks now make card payment possible in situations traditionally restricted to cash, such as trade fairs, outdoor markets, taxicabs, and even the plumber who comes to fix a leak in your flat.
Beyond the initial cost of buying or renting a credit card machine, you will pay a transaction fee, which is a fixed percentage of each card payment you take. This fee will vary according to your transaction volume. Your merchant service provider may also charge application, set-up or account activation fees.