Credit Card Processing Services at the Point-Of-Sale: Exploring New Options

When it comes to credit card processing services, providing the best merchant service to your customers should always be a priority. One simple way to do this is by staying up-to-date and providing the latest options for processing payments at the point of sale. Unfortunately, keeping up with it all can be difficult–even for a merchant services provider.

New solutions are introduced to the payments world at a seemingly supersonic rate. Traditional terminals, and even virtual terminals, are familiar standbys, but mobile credit card processing, tablet-based POS systems and other computer-based POS systems are starting to make waves.

Many financial institutions have questions about these emerging technologies, so here are the topline details on the latest and greatest solutions designed to complement your credit card processing services.

Next Generation Credit Card Terminals

EMV is currently making headlines on the terminal front. In the U.S., many merchant credit card processors are questioning whether it will truly become commonplace, but terminal manufacturers are gearing up with plenty of options, and ensuring they’re ready when merchants decide it’s time for a new terminal. Processors are beginning to certify terminals to fully support chip cards for EMV, and new players are becoming prevalent in addition to the companies you may already be familiar with.

A few companies from outside the U.S. are making inroads include PAX and DejaVoo. Equinox also launched its first new terminal (called Apollo) since changing its name from Hypercom, and, not one to be left behind, Ingenico in the U.S. is also making a big push.

Mobile Credit Card Processing Services

New card readers for mobile devices are also becoming prevalent. MagTek and ID Tech are developing readers that can support EMV cards–two in fact: one with PIN verification and the other featuring signature confirmation. Additionally, Ingenico boasts a terminal that works in conjunction with a tablet POS application.

Tablet-Based POS Systems

At the 2013 ETA Annual Meeting & Expo hosted in New Orleans, tablet-based POS systems were popping up everywhere. Newer players like ShopKeep, GoPago, and Leaf were all developing solutions, as were more tenured companies like NCR.

These solutions appeal to a broad range of merchants because they offer many of the features and functions typically found in more costly POS systems–like those developed for conventional merchant locations, such as restaurants or retailers.

Cloud-Based POS Systems

Cloud-based systems have become popular for the same reason tablet-based systems have. These robust, data-driven systems are reasonably priced, they take the hassle and worry out of things like updates and upgrades, and they simplify data retention and disaster recovery. They allow merchants to focus on their core business instead of worrying about their credit card processing service, which is why they are quickly gaining traction at companies like retailcloud and Benseron.

Which technologies are you most interested in, and what do you want to see from your merchant services provider? Leave a comment on your thoughts regarding the methods discussed above.

Why Chip And PIN Is The Way To Go For Small Businesses

In years gone by small customer-facing businesses might have been able to get away with not accepting card payments. Up until June 2011 small businesses could accept cheques but since then customers can no longer use their bank cards to verify cheques. That has left small businesses who do not accept cards only accepting cash.

Customers now expect to be able to pay by card. They have been spoiled by every establishment accepting payment cards for even the smallest of payments (though sometimes a small levy is charged where payments are under a certain figure, say £5 or £10). Think about all the establishments which take cards now. Local ‘corner’ shops, restaurants and pubs. The latest trend is for mobile businesses to accept cards and that will be the norm very soon. Taxis in London, for example, now accept card payments.

It is no longer a case of staying ahead of the curve for many businesses but is a necessity just to keep up with the competition. For businesses that are on the move, new advances in technology have made accepting card payments much more viable in recent years. Mobile chip and PIN machines are available now which use mobile phone signals to transmit payment information to the merchant services provider. The technology used is usually GPS.

Working on the same technology you can now buy chip and PIN machines which work with your mobile phone, sending encrypted messages to the bank through the phone. These type of devices are lightweight and inexpensive and it wont be long before these devices or similar are commonplace.

For small businesses looking for their first merchant account it is important to be aware of all the costs. A minimum monthly service charge will be payable, rental costs for the machines/ cost of purchasing the machines, cost per transaction and others such as activation and early termination charges.

When you look at the technologies available now such as contactless cards and mobile payments no longer accepting cards seems archaic. Think of it from purely a branding perspective and what customers think if you do not accept card payments. You don’t look like the market leading professional outfit that put their customers first.

Is it time your small business made the decision to offer your customers chip and PIN payments at last? It might be the best decision your business can make in the tough economic climate at the end of 2012.

Credit Card Data Breaches – EMV – Merchant Services

As a business owner, have you heard the terminology, EMV? If not you will likely hear it soon as the spring influx of new merchant services reps hit the street and come knocking on your door. The purpose of this article is to bring you information on this technology so that you are on top of your game.

As defined by Wikipedia, EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, a global standard for inter-operation of integrated circuit cards (IC cards or “chip cards”) and IC card capable Point of Sale (POS) terminals and automated teller machines (ATM’s) for authenticating credit and debit card transactions. EMV is a joint effort with the three entities to ensure the security and global interoperability of chip-based payment cards.

OK, so now you know what it is but what effect does it have on you and your business? Certainly you’re aware of the huge data breach at Target during the holiday shopping season. And maybe, to a lesser extent, you have heard of the Neiman Marcus data breach as well that dates back as far as July of 2013. Estimates indicate that at least 110 million consumers were affected by these hacks. Obviously, simply because of the sheer size of these data breaches and the businesses involved, it made headline news. However, I’ll bet that you weren’t aware that your business is more at risk of being hacked than these large business entities. A recent study conducted by Trustwave revealed that 92% of all data compromises originated with level 4 merchants. Level 4 merchants are those that process under 1,000,000 transactions a year and have fewer than 20,000 eCommerce transactions annually. I would venture a guess that since you’re reading this article, this describes your business.

Data security is a very important topic that you absolutely need to be aware of and do all you can to protect your customers information. Consider the risk to your business if a compromise occurs:

  • Potential loss of customers
  • Loss of reputation
  • Liabilities from bank fines
  • Potential litigation
  • Card association fines and penalties
  • Inability to accept future credit card payments
  • Lost merchandise due to fraud

For sure, you will and do need to make certain that you are fully compliant, currently, with PCI/DSS standards. And, eventually, you will need to adopt EMV technology in your business. But here’s my word of caution to you: as of right now, the mandate for the implementation of EMV equipped terminals in your business is October of 2015. However, you will have reps coming through your door trying to tell you that this is an urgent matter and needs to be addressed immediately or “you will be at risk”. Don’t fall for it!!! Certainly, eventually you will need to adopt this new EMV technology into your business and there will be a cost (i.e. new EMV POS terminals). The benefits are great in that since when you are fully compliant, fraud risk shifts to the your merchant services provider.

So, in closing just know that increased data security and standards are valuable discussions to have with both your current provider and any processor trying to attract your business. As the “deadline” for implementation approaches, don’t be surprised if it gets pushed back again. The US is one of the few remaining markets that doesn’t use chip and pin technology for point-of-sale transactions. It’s a major task and expensive proposition for banks (issuing expensive new chip embedded cards) and merchants (replacing all their terminals) but, it is coming. Watch for future article on this topic as I strive to keep you informed.