A card terminal is a point-of-sale (POS) machine that’s designed with one thing in mind – to scan, authenticate and process credit cards. It’s the machine that’s used by most retail shops, stores and restaurants, as well as by sports centres, gyms, public transport, car parking metres, Big Issue stalls and other cashless businesses.
It’s easy to think that all card terminals are the same, but they actually come with a variety of features, some which are more important for some industries than others. For example, many card terminals now allow you to accept contactless payments, like Apple Pay. And some offer the option of adding a logo to your receipts – a feature which can improve customer loyalty, boost brand recognition and increase the perceived value of your product or service.
The most common type of terminal is a countertop unit that allows you to swipe your customers’ credit or debit cards through a card reader and then prints a receipt for them to sign. Some also require a PIN entry from the customer as a security measure. Many modern terminals can be used in a card-not-present (CNP) environment – meaning they’re able to process phone or mail orders from customers who aren’t present in person. CNP transactions generally cost more than card-present transactions because of the added fraud risk.
Some card terminals can also cache transactional data and transmit it later when a network connection is available. This makes them suitable for remote locations that have little access to hardwired internet, such as a car park or outdoor event. Other terminals are wireless and communicate via cellular network connections or Wi-Fi. card terminal